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Thursday, 23 July 2015

UP, UP AND AWAY!

Good Morning to you,


'I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down
and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all.'


Joni Mitchell


I do so love travelling and visiting new places.

I also love the sense of adventure that travelling gives me.

..... and before I begin travelling, I even love the mundane things which I need to do, such as taking the suitcases out of the loft and dusting them off.

I love packing my clothes, probably a few too many times. Putting this in and taking that out, three or four times, possibly even more, before I decide I have the right combination of clothes.

I love deciding which outfit to wear when travelling, but it always has to be casual and it most certainly has to be comfy

..... and when the time arrives,

I love the tingly feeling I get when I arrive at the airport.

I love the hustle and the bustle of the airport

and I love, love, love seeing all the adults and children, so excited about their own family holiday. 

I love checking the departure board, to see the different countries people are  travelling to,

and I am always thrilled to find that our flight has not been delayed but is on time.

Once we have boarded the flight.

I love settling myself in to my seat and unwrapping my blanket, sorting out my book and my Ipod and looking to see which films are being screened during the flight.

..... and then I wait.

What am I waiting for?

I wait patiently until the flight takes off and as we climb higher,


I see the most beautiful sights below,


and then I see the first glimpse of clouds.  

Just a few fluffy clouds pass by at first,

and then,


as the plane climbs higher,  
a
 few more clouds appear,


until we rise above the clouds and
 we see
the most beautiful blue sky.



Whilst below us,
 clouds are swirling and others 


seem to be floating like big puffy meringues.



Once we fly above the clouds
I am very excited,
as I know I am on my way




to see Natasha and her husband
 and then
 to visit the most beautiful sight I will ever see in my lifetime.


The Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday
when I will tell you more about my visit to India.













Thursday, 16 July 2015

FROM ENGLAND TO INDIA AND BACK AGAIN

Good Morning to you,


Have you been wondering what I have been up to during the past few weeks?


I am bursting to tell you.

George and I have enjoyed the most wonderful holiday in India.  We spent a whole month with Natasha and her husband and were thoroughly spoilt and I have to tell you, we loved every minute of it.

We arrived home a couple of weeks ago and both of us have been adjusting to jet lag..... it's awful isn't it. Each morning I would wake up absolutely starving. I know that sounds a bit extreme, because I am never starving, but my stomach was crying out for food. The time difference meant, that whilst we were in India, we would have eaten breakfast and lunch by the time we awoke in England.  So my stomach was rebelling, as it could not understand why I had not eaten my normal ration of food. 

I am pleased to say, we are finally back to our normal eating regime..... breakfast at 8.00 am, lunch at 1.00 pm and supper at 6.30 pm, or there abouts and my stomach is very happy and content. 

The journey from India to London was a long journey and we arrived at 7.00 am as we travelled through the night. We did not have to wait around in London too long before we boarded our final flight to bring us home. When we arrived home, we were tired, but I have to tell you, we were also excited. We did not want to go to bed, as we wanted to talk about our holiday and all the wonderful experiences we enjoyed.... we felt like children at Christmas time.

We also wanted to see how our garden had grown whilst we had been away. So our suitcases were left in the hall whilst we went into the kitchen to make a much needed cup of tea.

With tea in hand, we opened the backdoor and walked in to the garden and we had a wonderful surprise. Whilst we had been away, the garden had grown so much.  Apparently the weather had been mild and in true English style, it had rained quite a lot, so the garden had flourished in our absence. There was colour everywhere.

I was so pleased, that I thought I would share some photographs with you.

One of my favourite flowers in the garden are roses and in my opinion, you can never have too many.



For instance, this rambling rose Golden Showers, it blooms and it blooms and it blooms all summer long and whilst it can grow to great heights, if pruned properly it can be contained so that it does not get out of control.



Which is what I did in spring, I cut the rose back quite hard, to encourage new growth and I was rewarded with so many beautiful flowers. There must be about twenty or more rose buds on the branches, ready and waiting for the warm sun to unfurl their petals.


Here you can see it growing happily amongst the clematis Richard Pennell. The buds are the late flowering clematis, Jackmanii, which always produces masses of velvety dark purple flowers.



If I had to choose a favourite rose, it would have to be this David Austin rose, St Swithun. The fragrance has a strong myrrh scent which I love and the flowers are stunningly beautiful.  



.... and although it only has a few buds and a couple of flowers at the moment, next year the flowers will surround Bacchus and what a treat that will be.



.... and the foxgloves, well they have grown to new heights this year. Some years I dry the seeds and sprinkle them around the garden, but in other years  I allow the seeds to be blown by the wind and they pop up in interesting places around the garden..... they are always a nice surprise.



As you can see they look very much at home amongst the Johnson's Blue geraniums and the pink Endressii geraniums. At the moment I am looking for a Kashmir White geranium to add to the garden.



I love planting flowers which intermingle, because as you can see I am not a fan of formal planting.   I think it would be fair to say I am a great lover of the cottage style of gardening. I love closely planted flowers which look as if they have been in the same place for years.



This Star of India clematis I planted a month or so before we left for India, as a reminder of our wonderful holiday. I thought it would look lovely growing up the trunk of the cherry tree. I had not expected it to flower this year, but the conditions were perfect and I was gifted with some lovely flowers.

The colour of the flowers are a lovely shade of pink. When you look closely, it is as if someone has loaded a brush with paint, then brushed the outer edges of the petals first, then, with the remaining paint, decided to paint fine lines down each petal.... so beautiful.



I love the green of this Lady's Mantle.... isn't that a fabulous name for a plant. I love that firstly, a mound of lush leaves appear and then the lacy flowers pop up through the leaves. I often pick the flowers and add them to arrangements of roses. Yes, I have to admit, the plant can be a little invasive, but I don't see that as a problem, because it is so easy to dig up the young plants, pot them up and give them to friends. I love cottage garden plants, because I get so many free plants which I can move around the garden or give away to friends.



This white washed terracotta pot did not survive our winter this year and was a little worse for wear. As you know I hate waste, so I decided not to throw it away or use it for crocks. Instead I placed it in the ground on its side and planted some low growing Campanula.... it is very happy in this spot and is thriving.



The white French Lavender is doing well and the Penstemons, which I have around the garden in a range of beautiful colours, from the delicate Apple Blossom to the pinker Pink Endurance and Amelia Jayne. I love the wine coloured Raven Penstemon, as it always stands out in the garden. Some plants are in flower and some are almost ready to burst into flower.

I think, before long, I will I need to find something for my little cherub to stand on, because he needs to stand at least eighteen inches taller, now that the flowers have matured and reached their full height.



The shady part of the garden is doing well.  The ferns have grown and spread so much, giving us a lovely feathery looking carpet.  We missed the flowering of the Rubra Plena peony, which is a rich, deep burgundy colour and one of George's favourite flowers. When peonies flower, they are stunning, but the flower of this variety does not last very long.



Lavender surrounds this centre piece, which the bees love, they fly from one flower to another morning, noon and night.

.... and finally a beautiful plant which self seeded itself, in probably not the right place, but I really don't mind.



this lovely Evening Primrose.  When dusk falls, the colour stands out amongst all the other flowers.

The garden is continually evolving, in Spring time I dig up a plant from here and plant it there.  I really do get a great deal of satisfaction from gardening.

How about you, are you a keen gardener? Do you enjoy getting your hands in the soil?

Before I leave you I just wanted to say, I have lots to tell you about our visit to India, but I really need to organise my photographs.  I took quite a few and they need a bit of sorting out, but when organised I promise I will show you them and tell you all about our visit.

Just a little teaser..... what is the most famous place you would associate with India..... Agra to be precise..... yes that's right, The Taj Mahal..... how lucky were we to visit such a beautiful place.

As I mentioned I have so much to tell you about our fabulous visit to India and promise to do so in the coming weeks.

So until next Thursday, take good care of yourself.

This week I will be joining,













Thursday, 21 May 2015

QUINOA SALAD

Good Afternoon to you,


I do love re-discovering something I had quite forgotten about, as when found, it is like seeing the item for the very first time.

The other day, I was rooting around at the back of the cupboard, when I found a lovely little cruet set. Well I say found, what I actually mean is, I re-discovered a silver cruet set, which I had quite forgotten about.  I had bought it quite a few years ago and the reason I bought it, was that the cruet set, reminded me so much of Ivy, my grandmother.

I think I have mentioned before, that Ivy loved a well laid table. Her table was always beautiful, whether it was set for breakfast, dinner or tea-time. Not only was the table laid beautifully with lovely linen tablecloths, but the item which stands out in my memory, is a silver cruet set which was always placed on the table.... but do you know, it was hardly used and certainly not by the children, as we were never allowed to add salt or pepper to our meals. The adults, after tasting their food, and only after tasting their food, would put a tiny spoonful of salt on to the side of their plate, ready to sprinkle over food which needed a little extra salt..... and when I say it was a small spoon, it certainly was as it was the size of my little finger nail, yes it was that small.

Just recently, I have been placing salt in a tiny dish and putting it on the table along with a tiny dish of black pepper.  I can't tell you when I started doing this, but I think I know why..... it is because when I am taking photographs of my food, and the time arrives for the salt and pepper to be photographed, I always put the salt and pepper into little dishes....and now,  it seems to have become a habit.

..... and do you know I think I might expand that habit to include my silver cruet set..... now that would look very 'shi shi' on the table, wouldn't it.

You will be able to see my little silver cruet set as I have included it in the photographs, but before you see it, you need to know what we are making today.


A very healthy quinoa salad.  The weather isn't really salad weather, as believe it or not it is still very cold. I went shopping today wearing a coat, scarf and gloves, but I digress, back to the salad, this is one of those salads which I find I can eat anytime of the year.

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to is,


Robbie William's fabulous album 'Swing When You're Winning'. Listen to and enjoy,

'Mack The Knife'
'Well Did You Ever'
'They Can't Take That Away From Me'

I love all the original versions, but I have to say, Robbie does a fabulous job singing these old songs.

So while I listen to 'Beyond the Sea'..... one of George's favourites, I will organise my ingredients.

INGREDIENTS
YOU
WILL NEED
TO
MAKE
QUINOA SALAD

100g quinoa
1 fresh chilli (medium heat)
2 handfuls of baby spinach leaves
5 spring onions
280g jar artichoke hearts
100g edamame beans
(I used frozen edamame beans)
2 tablespoons capers
8 sun dried tomatoes
lemon juice ~ 1/2 lemon
4 tablespoons of olive oil
sea salt
black pepper

HOW TO 
MAKE
QUINOA SALAD


Rinse the quinoa
in plenty of cold water.

Place the quinoa into a pan
and
add
500 ml of cold water.
Bring the water to the boil
and
simmer the quinoa for 15-18 minutes
or
until the water has been absorbed
and the quinoa is tender.


While the quinoa is cooking,
place the edamame beans in a pan
and add water,
bring to the boil 
and simmer for 3 minutes.
Drain
and
set aside for the moment.


I would advise
that you
wear a pair of rubber gloves
when handling the chilli,
because you might inadvertently
 rub your eye
and trust me,
these chillies will sting,
so I find the safest bet is to 
wear gloves throughout this process.
Better to be safe than sorry, I feel.



Remove the stem of the chilli
and
remove the membrane and the seeds
then
finely chop.
If you prefer a hotter flavour
use the seeds as well.



Top and tail
the spring onions
and


finely slice.
Set aside for the moment.


Cut the sun dried tomatoes
into slices
and 
set aside.


Wash the spinach leaves
and
set aside.


Mix together
the
lemon juice
and


the
olive oil
until


thoroughly combined.


Season with
sea salt
and
freshly ground black pepper.
(This is my lovely little cruet set.
Do you see the size of the spoon... tiny
isn't it.)


When cooked,
place the quinoa in a large bowl
and
add
the dressing.

Toss together.

Add
the
spinach 
and
toss together.

Add
the
chilli,
the
edamame beans,
the
 spring onions,
the
sun dried tomatoes,
and
toss together.

Add
the


capers
and 
toss together.

Check for seasoning,
and lemon juice.
If needed
add 
then toss again.

Finally,


drain the artichokes
and
arrange


on top
 of the salad
and
all there is left to do
is
enjoy.

I love artichocke hearts, but if they don't float your boat, add french beans.  With this type of salad it is easy to take away and add what you love.

Before I leave you I wanted to let you know that I will be taking a blogging break for about 5 weeks.  I will miss you, but I will try my best to keep up with you and visit your blog when I can.

So take care of yourself and I will see you again in July.






Thursday, 14 May 2015

AUBERGINE, FETA AND RED PEPPER OPEN SANDWICHES

Good Morning to you,


'Well, well.  What a pretty picture', Mrs Swindell
said, clapping the money box lid shut.
'Poor Mr Swindell, out in the mud, digging
for the treasures what put food in your
ungrateful mouths'

The Forgotten Garden
Kate Morton

I am really enjoying 'The Forgotten Garden' by Kate Morton and if I have the time, I read a few chapters each day. A little way into the book, I came across the above passage. My word, 'mudlarks' they are a something from the past and quite forgotten by me. 

Firstly, let me explain what a 'mudlark' is.

A 'mudlark' is someone who scavenges in river mud searching for items which have been buried in the mud. They search during low tide for anything which can be re-sold. 

... and I have memories of mudlarks. As a young girl, when we visited Ivy and Gramps, we would travel by train, which I loved, but the part I liked the best, was the brief, but exciting ferry boat crossing.

We would arrive at Portsmouth Harbour and walk across a walkway.  If the tide was low, we would look over the barricades and there would be 'mudlarks' knee deep in mud, waiting for people to throw coins, which the 'mudlarks' would then retrieve. If they were lucky the 'mudlarks' would catch the coins, but if the coins landed in the mud, they would then have the awful task of searching in the mud for their treasure.

What is it about children and mud, because, I so wanted to be a part of the mudlark gang, I wanted to stand knee deep in mud (which Phyllis would never have allowed) and try and catch the pennies which were thrown.

On a serious note,  during the 1950's many people, were experiencing a difficult time and often, 'mudlarks' would help with the family finances. The children would give the money they collected to their parents to help put food on the table. To me as a young girl, mudlarking seemed fun, but of course, it wasn't, it was a sign of  poverty.

.... also in the 1950's, when we visited Ivy and Gramps, Ivy would make us lovely sandwiches for teatime and as it is 'British Sandwich Week' this week, I thought it a good idea to make a sandwich..... of sorts.... which George loves.


It is not a sandwich in the true sense of the word, because it is not made with sliced bread and it does not have a slice of bread on top..... but we very rarely eat sandwiches these days and having just one slice of ciabatta works well for us. So it is my version of an open sandwich.

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I have chosen to listen to today, is a bit of a mix.... they are individual pieces of music which I know both Danielle and Natasha love, so I thought it would be fun to share a few of their favourites.




'Baby Don't You Cry'
Quincy Coleman
(I always have a tear when I hear this song)

'Hey Ya'
Obadiah Parker

'Song For You'
Alexi Murdoch

'If Not For You'
Derek Webb
and
Sandra McCracken

'Your Love Is My Love'
Whitney Houston

So while I listen to 'That's My Daughter in the Water' by Wainwright Loudin I will organise my ingredients.

INGREDIENTS
YOU WILL 
NEED
TO MAKE
AUBERGINE, FETA AND RED PEPPER
OPEN SANDWICHES

2 ciabatta rolls cut in half
or
4 slices of your favourite bread
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 clove of garlic
2 red peppers
100g feta cheese
1 large aubergine
a few basil leaves
sea salt

Pre-heat the oven: 180C

HOW TO MAKE
AUBERGINE, FETA AND RED PEPPER
OPEN SANDWICHES

Cut the red peppers in half
and
remove seeds and membrane.


Brush a tablespoon
of 
olive oil onto a baking tray
and


place the red peppers
onto the baking tray.
Roast until slightly charred.
This normally takes about 45 minutes,
but it does depend on the size of the
peppers used.

When roasted 
carefully place the peppers into a dish
and 
cover with a clean tea towel.
Allow to cool for 5 minutes then
remove the skins.
(Pop over and see the step by step
instructions for roasted peppers
or
 you can leave the skin of the
red peppers in tact.


Slice the red peppers into strips
and 
set aside for the moment.


Remove the stem
from the
aubergine
and 
cut into cubes.


Drizzle
1 tablespoon of olive oil
into a pan
and over a medium heat
cook the aubergine
until brown and tender.
I tend to move
the aubergine around the pan every few minutes.
Aubergines tend to absorb the oil
so if needs be add a little more.


Grate the garlic
and
when the aubergine
is almost cooked
add
the grated garlic to the pan
and 
cook for a minute or so.


Remove the mixture
from the pan and place into a bowl.


Mash the aubergine.


Season
with 
sea salt,
but not too much
as
we will be adding
Feta cheese 
to the open sandwiches.


Split the ciabatta rolls
in half
and
toast both sides until
golden and crispy.


Spread a quarter
of the mashed aubergine
onto 
each ciabatta half.

Then


divide the roasted, sliced red peppers
between the four pieces of ciabatta.


Cube the Feta cheese
and
sprinkle over the 
red peppers.


Finally,
shred some basil leaves
and


sprinkle over the
open sandwiches.

Pop them onto an oval platter
or


if you prefer
a
wooden platter
and
enjoy.

You can also roast the aubergine in the oven, then scoop out the flesh and mash. Sometimes I use this method, it all depends on how much time I have.

Oh yes, just before I go, I wanted to mention a few new things.

Firstly, I have started a Facebook page for Ivy, Phyllis and Me! and you can find it here. I have to tell you it is a learning process for me because currently, I am learning how to create the header for my FB page and also how to add things of interest via my phone.... I am getting there and I hope you will be patient with me. If you have the time, I would love it if you could pay me a visit me.... you would be most welcome.

Secondly, I have added my Pinterest Boards just below my lovely friends on Google +.  I really do love Pinterest as I find so much inspiration there.

..... and thirdly, I have added a recipe page which can be accessed to print the recipes from Ivy, Phyllis and Me!  It will take a little while to add all my recipes as there are almost three years worth, but I hope to have achieved this over the next three or four months.... I think that is being a little optimistic as truthfully, I think it will take longer.

So that is enough about me, (I am being very English), because now I want to tell you how I learnt to add the page to print my recipes. It was from the lovely,

Linda 
who writes the fabulous blog

Linda is such a kind and generous spirit, because not only is she a blog designer, but she shares 'how to' information. I found her step by step information on how to create a ReciPage invaluable.  So if you need your blog to be re-designed or you need information on 'how to' then pop over and visit Linda, I know she would love to see you there.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,


and










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