Saturday, 24 December 2011

All that glitters is not gold

Sometimes it's silver.  And at least once in a lifetime it has to be cleaned.  Christmas is a good time.  I can never understand why such a fuss is made about cleaning silver.  It's an art, I'll grant you, and I'll let you into my secret household hint.  Simply con your spouse into cleaning it for you.

I can't believe he even cleaned the ice bucket, which I had forgotten was silver.  I had assumed for years that it was painted black.  What a treasure.

If you were married before the Eighties, you probably have a lovely collection of silverware from your 25th anniversary.  Today it's stainless steel, so much more sensible. A good friend realised an hour or so before some long-lost out-of-town friends arrived that she hadn't cleaned the silver (obviously a bride of the Sixties).  She grabbed them out of the china cabinet and cleaned the sides that were on show.  Clever girl.

The turkey is thawing in the fridge, the pudding is steamed, and now the silver is glittering.  We are ready for Christmas.  We used to love going to Midnight Mass, but at our age we'd be asleep in no time, so we will go to the Vigil Mass this evening and be ready for our guests tomorrow.  Have a very happy Christmas, surrounded by loved ones.

Hang on ... he didn't clean the salt and pepper shakers.  

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Last minute projects

Sydney is bursting with beautiful hydrangeas and I can only assume they love their summers cold, unlike me.  As a small child I hated hydrangeas, mainly because they were growing in the garden of family friends where I stayed while my mother was in hospital.  I was desperately homesick for my parents and took out my frustrations on the hapless hydrangeas.  I didn't harm them, I simply hated them.  However, time heals and now I love them.

With the frantic rush to fill Etsy and MadeIt orders finally winding down, I can think about making something for my summer wardrobe - ever the optimist.  This hydrangea blue fabric has been languishing in my fabric stash for far too long, so I quickly ran up a skirt (well, the hem has to be hand sewn, but there's always tonight in front of the TV).

I bought this pretty Liberty fabric in London a couple of years back and it was time to stop wringing my hands and declaring it was too precious to cut.  The skirt was in need of a blouse and there is just the right touch of blue in it, so now it is sitting in front of the machine waiting to be sewn together.  If I am not wearing it on Christmas Day, please avoid the subject.

Now that I am over screaming every time I look at it, I have put the last of the Christmas tree garlands up in our own living room.  This is Garland Number 52 made this season, so you can understand my temporary aversion to anything with branches.

My only concern now is that I will forget to take the turkey out of the freezer and will end up tossing it into the bathtub full of hot water on Christmas morning.  But that's not going to happen ...

Saturday, 17 December 2011

All is calm ...

I doesn't feel like our usual run-up to Christmas.  The tree is up, the cards have been posted, the turkey is hiding away in the freezer, and we even found a parking space at the shopping centre this morning.  OK, we were there at the crack of dawn, but it still counts.  The annual Fudge Family Panic Frenzy is missing this year.

Perhaps the fact that we had our family Christmas Day early this year accounts for the feeling of serenity against the tide the rushing shoppers. Our Christmas shopping is done (do you feel the smugness coming through the screen?)

The reason for the premature Christmas celebrations is that it's the turn for the in-laws to have the pleasure of our offspring's company and the other grandparents live in Melbourne. It's a very amicable arrangement which has worked over the years, with the Sydney family dividing their Christmases between us in Brisbane, our son-in-law's family in Melbourne, and our other son-in-law's family living just out of Sydney.  The children have so many cousins in Melbourne and it's lovely that they will all be together on Christmas Day.  After all, now we have them close by for the rest of the year.

I have been so welcomed by the St Ives Quilters, the local group which I joined soon after arriving in Sydney.  We had our Christmas party this week - there were so many beautiful quilts on show that I am now really fired up to start a new project in 2012.

We all brought along a dish to share.

These pastries are apparently a permanent feature and I can understand why.  They are feather light and it's impossible to stop at one.  Well, impossible for me.

A different slant on cheese cake?

So Christmas Day this year will be a quiet affair, with my brother and our two closest friends as guests for lunch. The company will be wonderful, as we have known each other practically all our lives - the best sort of company.  There will be laughter and reminiscences, old stories re-told (and perhaps embroidered a little).

Our third Christmas will be in Brisbane a couple of days later, as we drive up to celebrate with our son, daughter-in-law and their four beautiful children.  We have missed them so much, so I hope they are prepared for lots of hugs.

All is calm, all is bright.  I wish you all a very happy and blessed Christmas.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Ten days to go

It's summer here in Sydney ... apparently.  We timed our return to our city of birth perfectly; this has to be one of the coldest starts to summer in many a year.  However, ten days out of Christmas there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

We don't wilt under the heat of the Christmas tree lights.

The Christmas cake mixed perfectly without the eggs curdling in the Brisbane heat.

The Christmas puddings boiling away kept us warm.

The flowers don't wilt a day after they are purchased.

Yes, there are always plenty of reasons to be grateful. 

I've been lost in a forest of Christmas trees, as orders keep pouring in for garlands in my Etsy and MadeIt shops and private custom orders.

 With any luck, there will be one left over for Chez Fudge.

The sun is peeking through the early morning mist, with the promise that it will be a sunny day.  Sunny is good.  Sunny and warm is better.  Fingers crossed.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Christmas in the city

It's coming - you can feel it in the air.  If you need to kick-start the Christmas spirit, now is a good time to visit your city.  Yes, I know, the jostling crowds can be terrible, but they are all part of the plan.

We took a trip to the city a few days ago and headed straight for the Queen Victoria Building.  This is our first Christmas back in Sydney for many years and stepping into this gloriously restored building brought it all back in an instant.

You are immediately filled with wonderment when you lay eyes on the gigantic Christmas tree in the centre of the building.

It soars from the ground floor, through the middle section of the building,

ending under the domed ceiling.

It's Santa's cave of choice ...

... and he has a queue of children anxious to assure him that they have been very good indeed.

It's always a mecca for shoppers, but at this time of the year it really pulls out all stops.

I love licorice allsorts.  I also love these bags.  Sigh.

Beautifully illustrated classics by Australian artist Robert Ingpen

Earlier in the day we ventured to Bondi Junction on the other side of the city.  As part of our Christmas tradition, we were on our annual pilgrimage to buy a tinned panettone, and discovered that some were available at the Norton Street Grocer, one of our favourite browsing spots.

It will be opened in the week leading up to Christmas and if we plan carefully, the last slice will be eaten for breakfast on Christmas morning - or earlier, whichever comes out on top, greed or restraint.

It will then join its predecessors above the kitchen cupboards, if we can make room.

Christmas is coming - you can feel it in the air.

Monday, 5 December 2011

A Village Fair

It's in its 20th year and it's huge - the Wahroonga Village Fair.  

When we left Wahroonga nearly 22 years ago, the Village Fair wasn't even on the drawing board, but over the years as its reputation grew, our friends kept telling us how wonderful it was.  And now that we are only three train stops away, yesterday we finally were able to experience it for ourselves.

Or course, before all else we needed to keep our strength up with a morning cup of coffee and with so many coffee shops to choose from, it wasn't long before we felt human again.

While sipping on our coffees, we were entertained by the Knox Grammar School Pipe Band.  

We were blown away.

But floated back in time to listen to the Knox Grammar School Big Band, who played like professionals.

By some miracle we spied the family in the throng, and the serious shopping began.

You know you are back in Sydney when you see Christmas Bush for sale.

What's a fair without balloons?

Who can go past home made marmalade?  Not us Fudges.

Same goes for Italian pastries.

She the Adventuress took a ride on the wild side.

Snack time, and nothing is better than a sausage roll when you are two.  Bliss.

It felt as though all the neighbourhood dogs were at the fair, greeting their old acquaintances.

This was my favourite stall - the quality of their clothing stood out from the crowd.

Ollie & Max

Sadly, the weather turned really nasty and we scurried home slightly wet, but missed the worst of it.  What a pity that this delightful fair couldn't have been blessed with a full day of sunshine, but at least it was rewarded with a huge turnout for the first half of the day.

Will I be back next year as a stall holder?  What do you think?