Sunday, 23 December 2012

I blame the Mayans

OK, the world didn't end on Friday, but there was a minor apocalypse in Kitchen Fudge.  I blame myself for tempting the gods with the smart "What can possibly go wrong?" comment.  I should have known better.

The first curse came with the Finding of the Pudding Tins, an annual ritual which usually ends in tears.  And it did.  They were discovered cunningly hiding behind a tower of cake tins, but my triumph was short-lived.  One of the tins had two tiny holes in the base, rendering it useless.  So there I was with enough mix for two puddings and only one tin.  The Spouse made a quick dash to our daughter's home a few blocks away and returned with the Rolls Royce of pudding tins.  The mixture was poured into the tins and it was only then that I realised that the largest saucepan I own was too small to accommodate the guest tin.  Back to our daughter's home drove Mr Fudge for a pasta pot which made mine look like the runt of the litter.

Finally they were steaming away and if nothing else, we will have pudding for Christmas Day.  The second pudding is sitting smugly in the freezer ready for next year, because who wants to go through that every year?

I'll spare you the dramas of the glacé fruit cakes.  Suffice to say the Mayans are a cruel bunch.  However, they are now baked and ready for Christmas Day, along with the traditional cake and shortbread.

All that is left now is a sewing project and ... oops ... I almost uttered those fatal words again.

Have a happy and safe Christmas surrounded by your loved ones.  We will be traveling north to hug our Brisbane grandchildren very soon after Christmas and that will make our season complete.

Friday, 21 December 2012

Nearly there

The Christmas shopping is done, the cards are mailed, the cake is in the oven (can you smell it?), the pudding should be steaming along nicely this afternoon, the fruit mince is drinking up the brandy, and there are still four days to Christmas.  This has to be a record in the Fudge household.

Yes, of course, there are still things to do.
  • make the glacé fruit cakes
  • make the pastry for the fruit mince pies
  • make the shortbread
  • wrap the presents
But there are still four days to go.  What can possibly go wrong?

Summer arrived in time for some pre-Christmas lunches with family and friends.  It's seafood weather and a couple of weeks ago we traveled to the Central Coast town of Woy Woy, famous for  one thing only - Spike Milligan, whose parents had retired there in the 1960s.  As a result he spent many years visiting the place, loving and hating it.  He named it "the largest above ground cemetery in the world".  Ah, the perfect place to meet up with old class mates and our menfolk for a Christmas get-together.  

Last Sunday we had lunch with the family at Cockle Bay Wharf - seafood of course.  Our son-in-law's parents were in town from Melbourne and we had the most happy day.  The children were preening themselves with pleasure at having both sets of grandparents together.  Our son-in-law's family name is the same as a particularly nice eating fish and it never ceases to amuse me to watch the waiter's face when the entire family orders the same fish dish.  No, not salmon, and certainly not barramundi.  Guess again.

Photos of Watson's Bay, Sydney
This photo of Watson's Bay is courtesy of TripAdvisor

During the week we met up with my brother for yet another seafood lunch, this time at Watsons Bay.  There's nothing more pleasurable than queuing up for take-away fish and chips at Doyles on the Wharf.  We sat on the beach wall, soaking up the sun and slowly eating our fish and chips.  Bliss.  It became a little hazardous when I took pity on a seagull and threw a chip his way.  Within 5 seconds the beach was transformed to a scene from The Birds.  Time to beat a hasty retreat.

And now I shall take a leisurely look at the cake, put the pudding on to steam and cut up the glacé fruit so that I can soak it in rum overnight.

What can possibly go wrong?  If I do not return until some time after Christmas, you will know that all did not go well.  Best not to ask.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Christmas Wishes

Conversation with my seven year-old granddaughter last night.

Grandma, when are you picking up your new glasses?

On Monday.

What will they be like?

Oh, they will be brilliant.  They will be multi-coloured and they'll have fireworks shooting out in all directions.

They're going to be black and boring, aren't they?


It's a bit depressing when you are outwitted by your grandchildren, but in another way it brings a glow to the heart.  These are smart children with a keen sense of the ridiculous, an essential ingredient to being part of the Fudge Family.  I mean, how many three year-old boys want a street sweeper for Christmas?  I have a horrible suspicion we are talking full-size here.  And he assures me that he's going to get it because he told Santa.

At last the tree is up.  In true fashion it did not happen overnight, but it did happen.  It all started here.

Mr Tangles goes through the yearly ritual of wondering who on earth packed the lights away last year so thoughtlessly.  

Poor tree.  

After four hours of sighing, cursing and swearing, finally some light.

Yes, it was worth all the pain and sweat.

We are looking forward so eagerly to seeing our Queensland family which has increased alarmingly over the past few days with the addition of four new kittens.  No matter how cute they look with big red bows adorning their necks, we will resist all offers of a Feline Fudge to bring back to Sydney.

May you all have the most wonderful Christmas, and watch out for a three year-old driving his street sweeper crazily down your street. 

Friday, 7 December 2012

The eye of the beholder

Over the past several months I've noticed that my eyesight has been fading.  About five years ago an eye specialist advised that I had the beginnings of cataracts, but no action was required at the time.  I was not endeared to this particular specialist.  He had been a national sporting hero in his time, but any admiration on my part was quickly dispelled when he kept addressing me as "Old Girl".  Considering that he was only about a year or two behind me, how tempted was I to respond with "Old Boy", but he was holding a pointy instrument near my eyeball so discretion ruled.  However, he is not on my Christmas card list.

When I found it difficult to read the coloured print in magazines, I knew it was time to find a specialist here in Sydney.  After the appointment was made ("You do have cataracts don't you?  Doctor only sees cataract patients."), knowing that it would be many months before anything could be done for my eyes, I bought a pair of those cheap reading glasses from the local pharmacy. I put them on and WHOA!! The whole world turned instantly into a Technicolor movie.  What happened to my fading eyesight?  I asked Mr Fudge to look through my old glasses and he immediately became a candidate for a cataract procedure.  It was then that we discovered the problem.  The protective coating on the lenses was crazed, giving the effect of looking through a gauze curtain.

Noooooo ... the appointment with the specialist was rushing towards me and I could envisage the medical humiliation that would produce. Remember - he only sees cataract patients.  Oo-er.  Panic.  So I did what any honest person would do.  I rang his receptionist and explained that I had been called away unexpectedly and would probably not return for quite some time.  Then we Fudges drove to the nearest shopping centre and had our eyes tested at the optometrist with all those latest whizz-bang testing machines that do everything except your ironing.  It was explained that the protective coating on the lenses was only guaranteed for two years and that five years (shame, guilt) was perhaps asking a little much of it.  In the end we both came out with flying colours and my new glasses, which are only slightly stronger than my old ones, will be ready next week.  Oh, and I emphatically do not have cataracts.

Still, I'm holding onto those old faithful glasses, in fear that my colour sense may in fact only be accessed through those crazed lenses.

No wonder I thought I was going blind.  These garlands have been so popular that I have had call it a day with them for this Christmas.  To date I have sewn 370 individual trees and each garland of 10 is constructed with 20 different fabrics.

I now have only 2 dresses and 9 garlands on back order to make - 90 more trees and then it will be time to close the Etsy and MadeIt shops for Christmas and float away on a vat of wine.  With my old glasses firmly clutched in my hand.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Ready to ship

This is a blatant and shameless piece of self promotion, so if you are not into children's clothing but love cats, perhaps you may wish to skip to the bottom of this post.

 At this time of the year, life becomes a little hectic for us all and here at Hot Fudge headquarters the activity has cranked up to breakneck speed.  My work load means that there is a delay of between 1 and 2 weeks on orders to be made up, but take heart - there are alternatives.

I have many items of clothing waiting to find new homes and to make it all the easier for you, I have created a Ready to Ship section in my Etsy shop.  So make yourself a cup of coffee, sit back and relax as you choose a  Christmas outfit for your little princess in the comfort of your home.  Here are a few dresses ready to ship off to you today:

Cape Cod, size 3
Christmas Holiday Party Dress, size 6

Christmas Party Dress, size 8

Party Bow Dress, size 3

Back bow detail

Salmon Pink Wrens, size 7

Strawberry Pink Tea Party, size 6 months

Summer Tree, size 5
Back bow detail

This is a small selection of what is available in my shop.  Do drop by and see what else is available.  Remember, Christmas is only a few short weeks away.

And now something for you patient cat lovers.  Have you ever thought of buying your much loved feline a Christmas gift?  How about its very own cat carrier?

Happy shopping!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

It's snowing in Sydney

Hard as it is to believe, it did snow in Sydney yesterday, a week before the beginning of summer.  And we were fortunate enough to be in the city to witness it.

I guess we're a couple of big kids, but we love visiting the city at this time of the year, when the excitement and anticipation of the Christmas season is starting to stir in earnest.

The window displays are so colourful and joyous.

 And you don't have to be a child to appreciate it all.


Tradition has it that we always visit the David Jones Food Hall to admire the goodies from lands near and far.

Particularly if Italy comes into the equation.

And then there's the traditional gagging at the price of their produce.  Does anyone pay these prices?

Our last port of call was to the Queen Victoria Building, a mecca for all children, young and old.

Here are the most tempting shops spread over several levels.

A word of advice.  If you plan on visiting this toy store, leave the children at home because they will only spoil your fun.

In fact, you will be doing them a favour.  I mean, what child wants to be embarrassed witnessing their parents (let alone grandparents) squealing with delight at every turn?  Not the Fudge kids, that's for sure.

We never cease to wonder at the size of the Christmas tree, which starts at ground level and soars through the centre of the building, finishing under the dome.

So where does the snow come into the story?  Here at the Christmas Tree.  Right on the hour, as we gazed up into the dome, snow flakes suddenly appeared.

It only lasted a few minutes, but it was such a delightful sight.

This little fellow was mermerised.

Even Santa thought it was pretty cool.

Ah, what fun.  I hope we never grow up.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Now that the birthday is behind us, bring on Christmas

Last Sunday the Fudge Clan celebrated our first born's birthday in style.  Three generations, spouses and an uncle gathered for brunch at our favourite restaurant in Centennial Park.

How satisfying it is to see the handmade gene passing down to the youngest family members.  Our seven year-old granddaughter provided her own birthday card for her aunt ...

... and Birthday Girl was equally delighted with the hand-knitted scarf in Spring colours, hot off her sister's knitting needles.

Now that the birthday is behind us, I can at last talk of Christmas.  Usually around the first week of November our middle child (who also answers to The Organiser), sends out the first Christmas Wish List email.  Tradition has it that her sister immediately sends out a response complaining that the Birthday Wish List surely should come before the Christmas Wish List.

A respectful distance has been observed since the birthday, and I can now officially slip into Christmas mode.  Mind you, with strong orders for Christmas dresses and garlands in my Etsy and MadeIt shops, the mode is well and truly worn in.

I've just shipped off the last custom order of clothing, so now it's back to the assembly line for the Christmas Tree garlands.  With a bit of luck I will have caught up with the orders by this time next week and then I can plan the Christmas pudding and cake.  And there lies another tradition.  My late mother's cake and pudding recipes are legendary and she would be thrilled to know that they are now being used by her granddaughter, and in time no doubt by her great-granddaughters.

Back to last Sunday, where Centennial Park never ceases to surprise and delight us with the lovable and sometimes the downright quirky.  This family of pugs (what do you call a group of dogs?  Pride? Herd? Mob? Gang?) comes under the lovable banner.  They were anxiously waiting outside the restaurant, hoping their owners would bring them something tasty for being so good.

And here is the quirky - the pigeon's contribution only added to the quirkiness.

The title, We Won, intrigued us all.  What was this Rugby player from the late 1800s wearing on his head?  Dog turd was the most popular response.  The children loved that idea, but was quickly dismissed.

And what were these cherubs up to?

No matter, it was a fine monument and one that caught the imagination of the children.  Curiosity got the better of me and I did find the explanation here.  Ah, an artist from the past with a delightful sense of the absurd.  Thank you sculptor Tomaso Sani for completing our perfect day.