De-mystifying the Traditional Christmas Pudding

Christmas does not happen in our house without Christmas Pudding. When my grandmother moved into a home and I inherited the pudding bowls I knew that this came with an unspoken invitation to take up the tradition of cooking the pudding. After several phone conversation with my Nanna, Mum and many You Tube clips later, I have come to the conclusion that its not that mysterious you just need to know a few of these tips:

Tip Number 1:

DSC_3831If you are doing this for the first time, buy enough unbleached calico to easily cover your pud and allow for tying. I tested this with a big ball of wool in my pudding bowl before cutting the fabric. You then need to boil the fabric to both steralize and soften it. I did this in separate water to that which I would later boil the pud in (if you are re-using the fabric the following year you can use the same water!)

 

DSC_3821Tip number 2:

Soak your fruit overnight in orange juice and brandy. Warm it up until all the fruit softens, mixing frequently and then let it cool over night in the pot.

 

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Tip number 3: Once your mixture is ready you will need to have the fabric prepared. To do this, after boiling in water, wearing rubber gloves, squeeze out the water and place it on a clean bench. Rub a generous amount of flour in the fabric (I kept the DSC_3841 gloves on to do this which seemed to help) … then with the flour side up, place the fabric in your pudding bowl. Leave the corners and edges free of flour. This provides a seal and prevents water getting in and your pudding getting soggy. I found a fair bit of butter in the water after boiling the puddings, but apparently this is normal (so says mum).

 

Last Tip:

When hanging to dry, separate the corners to assist them in completely drying out (otherwise risk mould). To prevent the string from snapping, double it up before tying. The best time to cook your puds is the last weekend of November!

As they say, the proof will be in the pudding, fingers crossed for Christmas day!

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Still Life Set up Sunday

Had a lovely lazy Sunday down at the local bowls club followed by some still life set up time – working with the themes of object, weight and the experience of time and memory. Why do some objects gather soo much value while others we are happy to leave by the side? These kitchen scales were used by my sister, cousin and myself to bake scones at Nana’s. I often see similar sets of scales in op shops – and somehow think – although identical – they’re not the same as mine!IMG_20141114_184307 IMG_20141116_202944

Slow Textiles – another slogan for the Hipster Dictionary?

I heard a saying this week while listening to a talk by Tim Cope; If you have to rush, rush slowly.

It has resonated with me.

When I read the phrase ‘Slow Textiles’ recently on social media, my initial reaction was a quick turning of the eyes skyward – another slogan to be added to the Hipster Dictionary. Images of fermenting linen danced across my mind. Putting my inner cynic to the side, I let the words linger a little longer.

In so many ways life is on a fast track like never before. We crave convenience to such an extent that we have become not only willing, but eager consumers. Searching out the latest, shiniest, what is trending, being hit, shared, liked, pinned.

Slow, from a conditioned point of view, is tainted with negative interpretation; behind the eight ball, not up to speed, yesterday’s news. And yet there is such value in the ability to pause, breath a moment longer, make space for another way, an alternative thought, or if you are brave enough to relinquish the control of inner dialogue, allow just for a moment, no thought at all.

To rush slowly, evoked in me that inner balance. Cope described it as the midway point between passion and patience, between the need to have ambition, to feel propelled forward, to have a goal and yet to be gentle, to tread lightly as you move forward and find the way that honours yourself and others simultaneously.

This creative process, between action and inaction, can take you into the places that are alive and beyond your imagination. It happens when you are living in cooperation with something that is greater than thOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAe small version of yourself. It takes an inner bravery that is very quite, very still. It doesn’t have slogans or a tag and is far too often missing from our lives today.

To rush slowly. What a lovely combination of words to cross my path this week.

 

 

1920s inspired Shirt Design

ShirtA sneak peek of a new shirt design that is just about at completion! The inspiration for the silhouette of this design came from the female fashion of the 1920s, when women were exploring a freedom of expression that, for me representing strength and femininity combined.This top is constructed with my fabric from my vintage collection, with a modern detail for the exposed yoke detail.

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On Still Life

I heard a quote today (and I am usually fastidious about referencing all quotes- a habit from University days), but tonight I am content to paraphrase;

It is what people make, not what they say or do, that tells you about humanity. Study what they make.

I have made aIMG_20140824_204128 study of what people make and never had much patience for what people say and a terrible memory of what they do. It was an extremely gratifying TV bite and was one ingredient of today that got me back to the canvas. The others were rain, the prospect of the working week and that indescribable sense of anticipation, which sometimes masks its self as anxiety that come when an artist has spent little time expressing herself and too much time avoiding.

This week has come to an end with a great deal of reflection. Having lost a dear friend.

She made something of her life and it was a privilege to have been a small part of it. As in the last still life (Self Portrait), this piece features objects of significance to my past; my grandfathers camera I inherited, a tin can – the same my grandmother would put on the stove to boil an egg and limes from the garden where I last lived. Peg, my friend who passed away last week, was my next door neighbour. I gardened for her and she nick-named me Green Boots, for the bright green Crocs I would wear when I spent time in her garden. We treasured every minute and didn’t waste a crumb or sip of cuppa tea together. She was everything a woman of her generation was meant to be.

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