Thursday, 23 March 2017


Good Morning to you,

My blog is not a political blog, it is a place where I share with you, the things I love in my everyday life.

.... but I cannot let yesterday's horror pass by without comment.

The day started well. I decided, in the afternoon, to catch up with some ironing, a job which I don't really enjoy, so to pass the time, I often watch a film.

I switched on the television and as George had been watching the news channel, in the morning, the television went straight to the BBC News.... and I could not believe what I saw, unravelling before my very eyes.

There had been a terrorist attack in the heart of London. 

It was reported that a terrorist had driven his car, into a group of people, who were walking across Westminster Bridge. They did not stand a chance. These everyday people, were going about their daily business, some going to work and others, enjoying the sights of London. 

As the scene unfolded, it appears, the terrorist, then abandoned his crashed car and  walked to the Palace of Westminster, where he tried to gain entrance.  I don't know if he had a knife in his hand at the time or if he took the knife out of his jacket, as the information is sketchy as I write this, but the terrorist, attacked an unarmed policeman, who I heard this morning had sadly died.

Eventually the terrorist was stopped, by armed policemen, from within the Palace of Westminster.

Four people died, including the terrorist.  40 people were in hospital, some in a critical condition.

.... and this makes me feel so sad. 

I am so sad for the people who lost their lives and for the families who will never see their loved ones again. 

I am so sad for the people who are critically ill, whose lives have changed forever. 

I am so sad for the people who witnessed this terrible scene, as it is something that will live with them, probably for the rest of their lives.

I am so sad for the party of school children from France, who, whilst on a school holiday, having fun,  witnessed this dreadful scene. I have been thinking about them all day.

.... and as the days roll by, I feel sure we will learn more and more about what happened yesterday.

But for today, can we place our hands on our hearts and send our collective love and sympathy, to everyone, who was caught up in this terrible attack.

Let them feel the strength of our love.

As Always,

With Warmest Wishes
to you.

Thursday, 16 March 2017


Good Morning to you,

How has your week been so far?

I have been very industrious this week, because I have been working in the garden, cutting back my roses, tying in new branches of the many clematis which are beginning to shoot.... and that job, which we all dislike, but we all must do.... weeding.

Monday was a fair day and so we decided to get out into the garden and begin our annual Spring cleanup.

We donned our gardening clothes and searched out our clogs, which incidentally, we haven't worn since last autumn. 

....and out into the garden we went.

Now you are probably thinking, there was not a lot to do in the garden, because as a rule, gardens are tidied and plants cut back, before winter arrives.  But I have to say, I am slightly different on that front, as I am a gardener, who definitely does not tidy her back garden before winter arrives.  My front garden is kept neat and tidy, but my back garden, which only we can see, is a different story.  I like to keep places where wildlife can hibernate, hide and feed during the winter months, so herbaceous plants are left in situ, until the Spring, when I begin the task of clearing up the old growth. 

I love my summer garden, but this time of year, is also special,  as plants start to peek through the soil. When we cleared the garden, I discovered Bluebells shooting through the soil, Primroses in bud and almost ready to flower, Snowdrops with their delicate flowers, bobbing in the breeze and the Cowslips growing around the pear tree, had multiplied and were just waiting for a few more warmer days, before they could burst into flower.

I then moved on to pruning and started with the grapevine, which certainly needed pruning, as it had become a little unruly. We grow the grapevine more for the leaves and I make great use of them during the summer when I make dolmades. Grapes do grow, but very tiny ones, as we don't have enough sunshine for the grapes to fully develop, so instead of picking them, we leave the grapes for the birds to enjoy during the Autumn.  It was then the turn of the climbing roses. I snipped off the remaining rose hips.... which again the birds love, tying in loose shoots and trying my best to avoid being scratched by the many rose thorns. I then decided to tie in the early flowering clematis shoots, which meant I had to stretch quite high up the fence and then down low, to where the shoots were growing at the base of the plant. I had to squat to tie in those shoots. Not very lady like, I know, but necessary. I was up and down like a yo yo. As I worked my way along the fences, I could see all my hard work and the tidiness was visually pleasing.

After over 4 hours, we decided to call it a day.  We both enjoyed the fresh air and pleased with what we had achieved and thought we would continue on Tuesday afternoon.

We had our showers and then I cooked supper.... and that was when I felt a slight change in my body. I began to feel a little twinge, but I thought if I kept moving, I would be alright.... well that's what I thought.

Later in the evening, we sat down to watch some television and when it was time for me to get up to go to bed, oh my, I began to feel stiff.

.... and the following morning, I felt as if I had done a full work out in the gym.  My body really ached. So we decided to give the gardening a miss on Tuesday, so I could recover. By Wednesday, I was right as rain, ready to go out in the garden to finish what I had started.

Each year, I say the same thing to myself, that this year, I will pace myself. Believe it or not, the last thing Phyllis said to me on Sunday, when I mentioned I was going to do some gardening, on Monday, was that I must pace myself and not do too much at once, as I would regret it, if I did. 

It really is time I listened to my own and Phyllis' advice, but I get so engrossed in what I am doing, that I want to continue until the job is finished. 

How do you pace yourself when it comes to gardening?  

Are you an all or nothing type of person like me or are you more sensible and have the ability to take things more slowly?

I promise you, there is no bending or stretching today, because we are making, a childhood favourite of mine,

Coconut Macaroons. If you have been reading Ivy, Phyllis and Me! for a while, you will know of my love of all things chocolate and coconut. So it will come as no surprise when I tell you, whilst  talking to a friend about childhood cakes, I remembered these Coconut Macaroons, (not to be confused with French Macaroons). When I returned home  I decided to look up the recipe in Ivy's cookery book, and do you know, I couldn't find one.  So I checked in Phyllis' and I discovered a recipe but they were coconut biscuits.  Then I discovered a recipe in my 1955 Good Housekeeping cookery book which I have adapted slightly.  The only thing is, I did not have any rice paper, so I improvised and used a patty tin instead.... and it worked beautifully.

So it's on with the pinnie.


2 large egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla essence
100g dessicated coconut
50g ground almonds
150g caster sugar
25g good quality dark chocolate
25g melted butter (for patty tin)


Makes ~ 12

Pre-heat the oven 180C/160 fan 

Butter a 12 holed patty tin.

Place the egg whites into a small bowl and using a fork, lightly whisk until a light froth forms.

Add the vanilla paste to the egg white
and lightly whisk until incorporated.

Set aside for the moment.

Place the ground almonds,

the dessicated coconut

the sugar
into a separate bowl.

Mix the ingredients together.

Pour the lightly whisked egg white mixture
into the dry ingredients
stir until combined.
This will take a few minutes.

Place a tablespoon of the coconut
mixture into each of the patty holes
using a spatula press
to flatten the mixture.

Place into the pre-heated oven for
15 minutes
 until lightly golden
and cooked through.

Allow the macaroons to cool.

Whilst waiting,
melt the chocolate
and when the macaroons

drizzle the melted chocolate
over the macaroons.

all there is left to do

These macaroons are so easy to make.  The only thing I would say, is, my patty tin is very old, and it cooks these macaroons really well, but if you don't own one, which is so old, then  I would suggest that you use a non-stick patty tin.

.... and by a patty tin, I mean the shallow baking tins we used to use before we were introduced the deep muffin tins.

.... and look what I discovered,

when I was looking through Ivy's cookery book. Have you noticed how coconut was spelt?  It was spelt with an 'a' added ~ cocoanut. I wonder if that was a typo error, mixing the spelling of coconut with cocoa?

.... and one final thing before I leave you,

look what was  peeking through the branches of my large Lavatera bush.... these delightful little Tete-a-Tete daffodils

What a lovely surprise.

Take care until I catch up with you next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,

As Always,

Thursday, 9 March 2017


Good Morning to you,

It's a fact, I am getting older. isn't something I think about on a daily basis, it's just every now and again, when I go to do something physical, I notice I can't work at the same pace as I used to.

For instance.

I used to be able to potter around the garden for hours on end, but nowadays I find I need to take breaks and sit down for 5 minutes or so, before carrying on. It doesn't take the pleasure out of gardening, it just takes me a little longer to achieve my goals.

It's the same with cooking.  Nowadays, I cannot stand for hours upon end, cooking, the way I used to. Instead, I need to pace myself and plan what I am going to do. Whereas when I was younger, I worked, looked after George and our girls, as well as our home and garden, with enough energy left, to cook up a storm for George's birthday and create a huge buffet, for over 100 people. 

Yes, it's a fact, I have slowed down a little. I am not sad about this, because with age comes time.  Time to enjoy the things I love.  I decided long ago to follow Phyllis, my mother's ethos.

 'Forget your age, it's just a  number.  Get out there and enjoy life, as much as you can.' 

Talking of Phyllis, she is an amazing woman, because this year she will be 87 years of age, and do you know something, when we go out for walks, she can walk as fast as I do. In actual fact, I think it would be fair to say, when we walk together, it is Phyllis who usually sets the pace. I believe, one of the reasons for her fitness is, she never learnt to drive, she either cycled or walked to wherever she needed to be.  

As a child, Phyllis would walk with her brothers and sisters, along country lanes, for 3 miles each day, to get to school. She said she never thought about the distance, because come rain or shine, it was what they had to do, to get to school. 

As you can see for yourself, Phyllis is pretty amazing. You'll never believe it when I tell you, that she still does her own housework, she remains adamant that she will continue doing her own housework for as long as she can. Firstly, it keeps her fit and secondly it keeps her busy. She feels, by doing her own housework, she is incorporating exercise into her daily routine, which of course she is, so she does not have to think about going for a walk unless she wants to. 

I'll let you into a little secret, even at the age of almost 87 years, Phyllis  loves to go to family gatherings, as she loves to dance. Do you know she even keeps up with the younger members of the family.... that's how much she loves dancing.

I also believe, the key to getting older, is to have the courage to embrace new things which come our way. I love talking about the past and the memories it holds, but I am not stuck in the past.

I remember, when I first started working, in the late 1960's, I was a secretary, and I typed letters on an old black, Olivetti upright typewriter.... not an easy machine to use, so when the new Remington manuel typewriter arrived in the office, I was thrilled, because the keys were so easy to use, compared to the Olivetti.  I was happy with my manual typewriter, but then electric machines appeared, my word, they were a revelation.  No more working out the characters and page size to centre a heading, no this wonderful machine did all the work for me. I admit it took a bit of getting used to, but once I got the hang of using it, it made my working life so much simpler. Then it was the turn of computers.... nonsense thought I, what on earth could a computer do, that my marvellous Remington electric typewriter couldn't do. Nothing was my thought and so I resisted.  That is until I went on a course and was amazed at how I could delete and insert words, without the need for an eraser or Tippex.... and it made me realise, I must never be closed, I must always try to be open to new ideas.

I'm not saying it is easy, because there is comfort in doing what is familiar, but give it a go, be open to a new idea, you might be surprised. 

.... as I have today, I have introduced myself to something new,

Thai black rice.  Admittedly, by accident, as I had gone to the supermarket to buy red rice, but they were out of stock. Whilst searching  I discovered a packet of Thai black rice which looked intriguing. So this will be a first for me.

So it's on with the pinnie and today I am thrilled, because George surprised me with,

the new album by Ed Sheeran.  This album is so popular and is being played quite a lot on the radio at the moment.  

The track I have chosen is, Supermarket Flowers. Please don't be put off by the title, the song is lovely.
I tried to copy and paste the official Youtube clip but for some reason I could not do it.  Pop over to Youtube and listen to this beautiful song.

So whilst I listen to this track and think of how lucky I am to still have Phyllis in my life, I will organise my ingredients.

Serves ~ 4

160g Thai Black Rice
1 small carrot
50g broad beans
3 spring onions
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
juice and zest of half a lime
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon sweet hot chilli sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander


Cook the rice as per the instructions
on the packet.

Whilst the rice is cooking,
cook the broad beans in water.
When cooked remove the outer covering.
Inside you will find a bright green, broad
Set aside for the moment.

Peel the carrot.
vegetable peeler,
cut the carrot into ribbons.

Snip the spring onions into small pieces,
I snip them using a pair of scissors.

When the rice is cooked,
place the rice into a large bowl
and add
the ribbons of carrots,
the broad beans
spring onions.

Using a separate bowl,
place the
rice vinegar,
lime juice,
lime zest,
grated ginger,
soy sauce,
sesame oil,
olive oil
sweet chilli sauce
into the bowl
and mix the ingredients together.

Pour the dressing over the rice
and toss the ingredients to
coat the rice grains.

Chop the coriander
add to the bowl.
Toss again.

Then all there is to do


You will have noticed that I did not add any salt to the recipe, that is due to the soy sauce being salty.

I cannot lay claim to this recipe, because I have adapted the recipe found on the back of the Sainsburys Thai black rice packet. As it was the first time of using this rice, I wanted to see which ingredients worked well together.  I omitted quite a few of the ingredients and inserted others, because I wanted to use what I already had in my store cupboard. For instance I used broad beans because I had them in my freezer, instead of edamame beans.

The recipe also called for vegetable oil, but I use mainly olive oil in my cooking, so I preferred to use olive oil for this recipe.  I am really pleased with the outcome, so this will be making an appearance at supper time, many more times in the future.

You might be wondering about the title, Forbidden Rice.  When I was researching black rice, I discovered that in the days, when China was ruled by Emperors, black rice was grown in small quantities, strictly for the Emperor's consumption. The local population were forbidden to eat this rice, and so it became known as forbidden rice. Luckily for us, that time has past and black rice is more widely available.

Take care and I will catch up with you again next Thursday.

This week I will be joining,

As Always,

Thursday, 2 March 2017


Good Morning to you,

I do love meeting people.

.... and I am always pleased, that when I take the time to smile at someone, I am rewarded with a smile in return.... and sometimes, with an added good morning or good afternoon.

.... and yesterday was a case in point.

I was waiting at the bus stop,  when I noticed out of the corner of my eye, a lady, standing alone, huddled in the corner.

I smiled and she smiled back and I asked if she was alright.  She replied, that she was, but she was feeling very cold. I suggested that she stand in the sunshine, where it was much warmer, but because we had struck up a conversation, I could see, she wanted to stay where she was.

When the bus arrived, I suggested, as she was feeling cold, she should get onto the bus first. She dilly dallied and at one point I thought maybe she was not waiting for the same bus as I was. After a few moments she got onto the bus, bought her ticket, but she didn't sit down, she waited in the aisle, until I found a seat, whereby she said, I think I'll sit next to you rather than sit on my own.... the company will be nice.

We started chatting to each other and I asked what had brought her into town. She mentioned that since her husband had passed, she now lived on her own and because of this, she made a point of getting out and about at least twice a week. She explained, one of the things she loved doing, was visiting charity shops, such as St Oswald's in the High Street.  

Of course my interest was immediately peeked, because as you know, I love finding pre-loved items. 

I asked if she had managed to find herself any bargains and she mentioned, that she had found her son, a lovely shirt.  I said that he would be pleased with her find, to which she replied, yes, that he would be now, but that wasn't always the case.

She explained, until recently, he didn't like her visiting charity shops, he felt she didn't need to. To be honest, I got the impression that her son felt it was beneath her. He said if she needed new clothes she could buy them from Fenwicks or Marks and Spencer, but she didn't agree. She felt the complete opposite, why pay all that money, if you didn't need to.  She said that buying clothes from the charity shops meant she could support St Oswald's Hospice and also the Heart Foundation and get a bargain to boot.

.... and then something happened to change her son's mind.  

A few weeks ago, she was browsing around one of her favourite charity shops, when she came across a jacket, which was the correct size for her son.  She ummed and aahed, wondering what he would say if she bought it for him. The jacket, looked like it had never been worn and she felt it would be perfect for her son, so she took the plunge and decided to buy it.

.... and so the jacket went home with her. The next time her son popped around to visit her, she mentioned the jacket.  Apparently he raised his eyes and didn't want to try it on, but to please his mum he eventually did.... and of course it fitted. The son asked how much his mum had paid and she said £10, which believe it or not, he thought was amazing.

Anyway, long story short, one Saturday afternoon, he was with his wife, browsing around Fenwicks, when he saw, hanging on a coat hanger, the same jacket he was wearing.... and guess what the price tag was, £150. He could not believe he was wearing the same jacket, but his had only cost £10.

Now, I bet you can guess where this is going. The son was converted. Apparently he now gives his mum, spending money, to buy whatever she thinks is value for money. He is pleased because he now realises his mum has a good eye for a bargain, and she is pleased because she has more money to spend/donate to the charity shops... so everyone is happy.

.... and whilst we were talking on the bus, her son rang.  She winked at me and she smiled, as she said to her son, yes I have been visiting charity shops and I have found you a very nice shirt. I could see that this made her so happy.

So if you see someone, standing alone, and you feel comfortable doing so, give them a smile, as you might just make their day by striking up a conversation.

I really feel this lady was a little lonely and was so happy to talk to me.  When it was time for her to leave the bus, she waved to me as she walked down the bus aisle and she smiled and waved to me when she got off the bus. 

.... you never know, we might meet up again next week and if so, I wonder what new things I will learn.

Talking of learning, do you remember last March, yes it is actually a year ago when I made,

a chocolate marble cake in my, then new buntd tin? well I feel sure you will remember it didn't look like the cake in this photograph,

no, it looked like this.  A respectable cake, but not one made in a buntd tin.  Everything was going smoothly, until the cake was baked, I left it for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a cooling rack, but when the time came to remove it from the tin, it would not budge. If you would like to see what happened next, then you can see it in great detail here.

I decided I wanted to make the cake for this Easter. Now I know it is a little way away, but I needed a dry run to make sure I could get the cake out of the tin successfully. So thank you to all my wonderful friends who gave me advice about how to prepare a buntd tin. Now I realise, I should have buttered and floured the buntd tin.  

So it's on with the pinnie, and I have to tell you, there is no music today.  Now that is unusual isn't it, but I needed to focus on what I was doing. I decided peace and quiet was the best course, as I wanted this buntd cake to be a success.  


250g unsalted butter
plus 25g to liberally butter the buntd tin
250g plain flour
plus 1 tablespoon to dust the buntd tin
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon of salt
225g caster sugar
4 large eggs - room temperature
2 tablespoons of milk
3 tablespoons of dark cocoa powder
3 tablespoons of hot water

For the Chocolate Ganache

250g dark chocolate ~ 70% cocoa solids
235 ml single cream


Pre-heat the oven: 180C or 160C Fan
Buntd tin: size 2.4 litre

  Melt 1oz of butter and brush the buntd tin liberally, making sure you get into all the nooks and crannies.

   Dust with the tablespoon of flour, moving the flour around the tin until the surface is covered with flour.
Throw away any excess.
    Set aside for the moment.

Sift the flour

the baking powder and salt
into a bowl.

Set aside for the moment.

Using a 2nd bowl,

Cream the butter


sugar until light and fluffy.

Whisk the eggs


add the almond extract and whisk again.

Add the eggs, a little at a time, to the butter mixture. If you find the mixture starts to curdle add a tablespoon of the flour and continue beating.

When all the eggs have been added,

gently fold in the remaining flour.

When all the flour has been incorporated, gently fold

in the milk.

Divide the mixture in half and put one half into a separate bowl.

Place the cocoa powder in a bowl


add the hot water.
  Stir to form a chocolate paste.

Gently fold the chocolate paste into one half of the cake mixture 
until the paste is fully incorporated.

Divide the mix into roughly thirds and add to the buntd tin.  

Using a teaspoon, drag through the mixture to create a marbled effect.

Bake in the oven for 40 - 50 minutes.
If you are not sure if the cake is cooked, 
 insert a cake skewer as near to the centre of the  cake as possible. If it comes out clean your cake is cooked.

When baked, leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack and allow to cool.

..... and I am pleased to report,

the cake released itself from the buntd tin, with no problem at all.

Now you can decorate the centre with the chocolates of your choice and dust with a little icing sugar.


you can go a step further and make a chocolate ganache.... well it will be an Easter Cake.


     Break the chocolate into small pieces and place
in a heatproof bowl.

   Pour the cream into a small saucepan and gently heat until you see bubbles forming around the edge of the pan. Just before the bubbles start to move towards the centre of the pan, remove from the heat.

Pour the heated cream over the chocolate pieces


   stir until the chocolate has melted into the cream.  

Using a wooden spoon, beat the mixture until
it is smooth and glossy.

Allow the ganache to come to room temperature,

spoon the chocolate ganache over the cake and down the sides. 

Allow the ganache to cool completely.

Then all there is left to do is, make a cup of coffee,
cut a slice of this Chocolate Marble Buntd cake 



When Easter arrives I will add a few Easter decorations amongst the chocolates and then we will have a gorgeous cake to share with the family.

The first time I made this cake I divided the cake mix into four sections of white mix and four of chocolate, this time I divided into three of each. There will be more marbling if the cake mix is divided into four.... you choose.

So take care and  I will catch up with you next Thursday.

As Always,

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