Saturday, 10 November 2018


Good Afternoon to you,

A couple of months ago, I was watching BBC Gardener's World and my ears pricked up when I heard Monty Don say, that houseplants were coming back into fashion.

Now this surprised me, because I had not realised that houseplants had gone out of fashion, never mind coming back into fashion.

Houseplants for me, have always been an integral part of my home.  I cannot remember a time when I have not grown indoor plants.  Admittedly, the style of houseplant  which I grow has changed over the years, as I no longer grow rubber plants, spider plants or cheese plants, but I do grow plants which suit my smaller home.

For instance,

whilst this Clivia is new to my home, the plant itself is not new to me.  

When I lived in Cyprus, my friend gave me a Clivia as a birthday present. It was in full bloom when I received it, and the plant loved the temperature in my home.  It bloomed, just once a year, and always on my birthday, which was really lovely.  I have since heard from Pamela, one of my Instagram friends, that a Clivia will flower at Christmas and also Spring time.... which will be lovely.  Maybe I will be lucky and this Clivia will flower once again on my birthday.... wouldn't that be nice.

If you have been reading Ivy, Phyllis and Me! for a while, then you will know how much I love growing orchids.

.... many people think that orchids are a difficult plant to grow, so they avoid them.... and this is such a shame, because by following a few simple rules your orchids will bloom over and over again. I have orchids  blooming in my conservatory that I have been growing for years. When each orchid has finished blooming they are transferred to my kitchen window sill. The orchids are then cut  back, where they will rest, it is then the turn of the orchids on my kitchen window sill to be transferred to the conservatory to spend their time in the spotlight.

I have added as my Featured post this week, the post I wrote a few years ago, on how to care for orchids.  I think once you read the post, you will be surprised to find how easy orchids are to grow and enjoy in your home.

Another plant which I find easy to grow, is the Weeping Fig.... it just needs plenty of light.  I have grown these for years and I have never thought they were difficult.  This Weeping Fig is a plaited standard, and to look after it all I do is make sure it is watered once a week during wintertime, but it does need more water in the summer time. I dust the leaves with a cloth and every now and again I spray the leaves with a fine mist of water. When Spring arrives I start to feed it. The plant does benefit from being placed by a window and turned every now and again to make sure the leaves do not grow towards the light, but other than that I think you will be surprised how easy they are.  Maybe buy a small plant and see how you get on.

.... and I am thrilled to pieces with how this Parlour Palm has settled.  I bought 4 tiny plants for the princely sum of £1 each. I repotted them and cared for them until each one reached a good size, I then potted them on to the next size of pot.  When they were large enough I planted two Parlour Palms into two large pots and I am thrilled to say they are growing so well as they love the warmth of the conservatory.  Admittedly their growth will slow during the winter time, but next year they will put on another spurt and in a few years time I am hoping I will have two large Parlour Palms.  If you were to buy a full grown Parlour Palm I know they can run into over £100 for a large one, so why not buy small, nurture the plants and save yourself a lot of money.

Another favourite indoor plant is this Peace Lily.  Although I grow this one on my windowsill, it is quite happy, because this window does not receive any direct sunshine.... plenty of light.... but no sunshine to scorch the leaves.  I have grown Peace Lilies in the corner of a room and as long as the plant is given some direct light, it will survive quite happily.  You will also be treated to some lovely white flowers which will bloom two or three times a year.  An easy plant to care for and one which will reward you with lush green leaves.

A very old favourite and one which my mother Phyllis has grown for years.... a Christmas flowering Cactus. Actually I am sure this is a cutting taken from my mother's plant. I have to be honest and say, 10 or 11 months of the year, this flowering cactus does look rather boring, but during the run up to Christmas the flowers begin to form and before you know it you have buds all over the plant and when the buds burst into bloom, the plant looks spectacular.  I normally stand this plant in my porthole window, but I could not get a decent photograph to show you, so I moved it onto this shelf. It has now been returned to the window, where it sits quite happily.

.... and I could not leave you without sharing this touch of whimsy.... don't you just love Baby Groot. Whenever I look at him he always brings a smile to my face.  

Baby Groot was part of my birthday present earlier in the year and unbeknown  to me, Baby Groot arrived before my birthday with George being given strict instructions as to the type of plant he had to buy from the garden centre.... and I think he did an admirable job as he found the perfect plant.  To care for the air plant, all I have to do, is pop the air plant into rain water once a week and it is happy.

So if you do not grow houseplants, maybe give it a go... it is lovely to have that touch of greenery around the home and not only do the plants look lovey,  they are also very good for filtering the air.

I would love to know which houseplants you have had success with, as maybe the houseplants which you grow are totally different to mine.

Take care and I will catch up with you next Saturday.

As Always,

Sunday, 4 November 2018


Good Afternoon to you,

Firstly, I am so sorry I was not with you yesterday afternoon, but I had a lovely surprise visit from my sister-in-law.... and once we started chatting the time flew by, which left me no time to write to you.  I did let my Instagram friends know that I would not be posting yesterday, but I did not have the time to post here on my blog.

.... but I will make up for it, as I have a lovely little story to tell you today.  

Last week, as usual, I joined the ladies of my Thursday craft group. When I arrived, I said hello to everyone and made my way to my craft table. 

I made myself a cup of coffee and then started to unpack the contents of my bag, which I  organised on my table.

At the moment I am busy, making Christmas tree decorations, so this was the perfect project to work on at my Thursday group.

Whilst I was doing this, my friend arrived with her little 4 year old granddaughter.  I will call the little girl Georgina... this is not her real name, but for the sake of privacy that is what I will call her. 

We welcomed them both, but when I said hello to  Georgina, she was not sure about me, she was very shy.  I did understand as she had not met me before, so I went back to my table and I thought to myself, she will speak to me when she is ready.

Shortly afterwards another member of our group arrived, who is also a Grandmother, and she brought her little 6 year old granddaughter.... this little girl I will call Molly. So as you can see, we were thoroughly spoilt with 2 lovely little girls to make a fuss of. 

After everyone caught up with each others news, my friends started crafting and I started sewing,

I was busily sewing the bell onto this green Christmas tree decoration, when, from now where, Georgina appeared and sat on my lap. Being 4 years of age, she is quite a  little girl, and I realised she had snuck under my table to find her way onto my lap. Honestly, I was so focused on what I was doing, that I did not see this lovely little girl beside me. I know I tend to get lost in my work, but I would have thought I would have seen Georgina making her way to me.

I have to say I was secretly pleased, because Georgina seemed to lose her shyness and started talking to me.  Whilst talking to me she saw on the table, my box filled with interesting objects and she wanted to see what was inside.

So I removed the hexagons from the box and I lay them on the table.... her eyes lit up and she started playing with them. She lay them out on the table and for a little while she was satisfied.... remember this is a little 4 year old.

.... and then something else caught her eye,

inside a smaller box which I use to keep odds and ends for projects I am working on. Inside the box Georgina discovered,

a glue stick.... which caused great excitement as she knew what it was.  She picked it up and before I knew it, she had twisted the lid off and wanted to glue something.

At this point, Molly became interested in what Georgina was doing and came across to my table. So I had to think quickly, what could I give the 2 little girls to glue. I didn't have any craft paper only material.

.... of course, they could glue the hexagons.... but I had to explain, that we would glue the paper on the back of the hexagons and not the material on the front.

I asked each girl to choose 2 hexagons which  they liked and then they began using the glue stick, the hexagons were glued together, and of course glued, then glued a little bit more.  They decided this was fun and chose some more hexagons to glue, but at the rate the girls were gluing, first I would run out of hexagons and secondly I would run out of glue. So I had to think on my feet, what else could  they do.... I know, they could glue a piece of ribbon to the top of the hexagon.... can you see where I am going with this.  When you are playing with a 4 year old and a 6 year old your brain has to work pretty quickly. So we cut the ribbon and both girls glued the ribbon to each of their hexagons.

....but for one little girl, the glue stick was too much fun and she was not going to give it up lightly.... can you guess who it was.  That's right, little Georgina was having so much fun, she decided that it would be much more fun to glue 3 hexagons together, not paper to paper, but material to material. I think if she could, she would have glued every hexagon together, one on top of the other, until every hexagon was glued.  

So again, I had to think quickly.  Inside my smaller box I had quite a few little bells, so I needed to distract Georgina... I took all the bells out of the box and put one bell to Georgina's ear and let her hear the bell tinkle.... her eyes lit up.... this was fun.  

I asked Georgina and Molly to choose the bell they liked the most, but to be able to choose, they needed to put the bell to their ear and listen to the tinkle of each bell.  This they were quite happy to do, and it took quite a while for each to decide which bell they liked the best.

.... although when it was decision time, Georgina felt it would be much better to have 10 bells rather than 1... I mean why have 1 when you can have 10, but if I gave Georgina 10 bells, which she was most welcome to, I would not have had enough bells for Molly. So what was I to do.

I decided to turn the hexagons into Christmas tree decorations for the girls. So I persuaded the girls, that in order for me to finish the decorations for them to take home, I needed to begin sewing.  Luckily both grandmothers could see what I was trying to do, and sat their respective granddaughter on their knee, so that I could begin sewing.

I hurriedly slip stitched around the hexagons and I was able to centralise the ribbon as  the glue had not dried.  I then took each bell which Georgina and Molly had chosen and stitched it to the bottom of each of their hexagons.

I have never stitched so quickly.... but I finished both Christmas tree decorations in time for the girls to take home. Although this decoration isn't what the girls made, I wanted to give you an idea of what we had made together.

Both Georgina and Molly loved their Christmas tree decoration and they each thanked me, then just as Georgina was leaving, hand in hand with her grandmother, she looked at me and with a smile said , 'This Christmas tree decoration belongs to me, so could you make me another one for my mummy.'

I smiled and said of course I would.

.... and with that she was gone.

It has been a while since I have been around such young girls, but do you know it was a joy, I loved every minute of it.

.... so there was nothing left for me to do, but to return, 

to my sewing, which did not feel quite the same as it had before I met Georgina and Molly.

Take care and I will catch up with you next Saturday.

As Always,

Saturday, 27 October 2018


Good Afternoon to you,

Today, I thought it prudent to bake a cake, as I have been receiving huge hints from George, that it's the weekend and the cake tin is decidedly empty. The only way he could make it any clearer that he wanted to indulge in a piece of cake, is if he stood in front of me and said 'Please bake me a cake'.

As the weather turns colder and the nights draw in, comfort food and cake, become an integral part of my cooking.

Do I see you rolling your eyes? Are you thinking to yourself, eating cake is not a good idea, because what is the saying.... oh yes.... 'a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips'.... well yes I suppose this is true, but surely everything in moderation.  

My mother, Phyllis eats whatever she wants, and her weight never seems to fluctuate by more than a couple of pounds, as she is a firm believer of eating everything in moderation.

I think it would be wrong of me to say, I am as good as my mother, because my appetite ebbs and flows with the weather.  In the summer time I eat less, but when winter arrives it is fair to say I do indulge a little more.

.... but this is how I compensate. Around the middle of November, I ban all things sweet, such as cakes, biscuits and chocolates from our house, (with George's agreement of course) until Christmas arrives and then I give myself permission to indulge in all the Christmas foods.  I don't know about you, but I  find, I can resist temptation if the forbidden foods are not in the house.  I might fancy a chocolate, but if there are none in the cupboard, then I find the fancy passes quite quickly.

.... and between you and me, I feel the constant hinting from George, is because he knows, very shortly, there will be no cake in the house.

But for now, I do feel this Plum cake will indulge his sweet tooth and as plums are plentiful in the markets at the moment, this is the perfect Autumnal cake.

So it's on with the pinnie and time to organise my ingredients.


250g soft unsalted butter
250g soft brown sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
250g self raising flour - sieved 
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
500g plums ~ halved and stones removed

You will need:  22cm cake tin, buttered and lined
with baking parchment.

Pre heat the oven to 170C


Using an electric whisk, 

Whisk the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Whilst the butter and sugar are combining. Whisk together the eggs and vanilla extract and set aside for the moment.

Sieve the s.r. flour, cinnamon and salt and set aside.

When the butter and sugar are light and fluffy, add the eggs a little at a time and continue whisking. If you find the mixture splitting, add a tablespoon of flour and continue whisking.

Add the dry ingredients a tablespoon at a time until thoroughly combined.

Spoon the cake mixture into the pre-prepared cake tin and smooth the top. 

Place the halved plums into the cake mixture, pushing them down into the mixture.  You can arrange them haphazardly or create a design. You will find to fit all the plums into the cake mixture, they will need to be quite close together.

Bake for about 1 hour or until the cake is golden in colour and firm to the touch.

Leave the cake in the cake tin for 10 minutes, then remove  and place onto a cooling rack to cool.

There are two ways to enjoy this Plum cake. You can eat it warm with a spoonful of double cream or enjoy it cooled with a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Either way, I think you will be happy to indulge your sweet tooth.

.... but not too much, remember the saying I mentioned earlier.

'A moment on the hips, a life time on the hips.'

Take care and I will catch up with you next Saturday.

Oh yes, just before I leave you, I wanted to mentioned that I am having great problems answering your comments.  The comments are there, but when I try to access them they disappear.  I know Google does not support Open ID Comments anymore.  Do you know of anyway around this to allow me to access your comments.  I would appreciate any help you could give me.

As Always,

Saturday, 20 October 2018


Good Afternoon to you,

Are you a lover of spice?

Do you enjoy that wonderful after taste, when you have eaten something flavoured with spices.

I know I do.

So today I thought I would share a recipe with you which was given to me by my friend Wasanti. It isn't exactly the same dish that Wasanti would make, as firstly, Wasanti loves her Butter Chicken very, very  hot, whereas I like mine less hot and more spicy.... and secondly Wasanti has her own special blend of spices which are mixed for her in her local village. Having said that, Wasanti kindly gifted me a jar of mixed spices, but I have made Butter Chicken so many times, that although the spices were used sparingly I used them all up quite a while ago.... and you will have heard me say before, that a recipe is a guideline, it can be adapted to suit your own taste, so that is what I have done, adapted the recipe to suit my palette.

For instance, I use olive oil instead of ghee to brush the chicken whilst it is baking,  also I use full fat Greek yoghurt, as both ingredients I use on a daily basis.

Now for the title, Butter Chicken.... does that fill your taste buds with delight.... probably not, I have to admit it does sound rather boring, but when I tell you that Butter Chicken is made with a glorious mix of spices which will tantalise the taste buds, then I feel sure you will be a little more interested.

.... but before I share the list of ingredients, I must tell you, there are two parts to this recipe.  The marinading of the chicken, which can be done first thing in the morning, ready to cook in the evening. Or, if you prefer, marinade the chicken overnight, which I prefer to do, ready to cook the next day.

.... and the ingredients, when you look at the list, you will probably think, 'oh no, not another recipe with 101 ingredients', but please don't fret, as the ingredients list, appears long, purely because of the amount of spices we are going to use.  Again that might put you off, but please don't let it, as I know you may not have all the spices in your store cupboard, but trust me, if you are a lover of spice, once you make Butter Chicken, it will be something you will make over and over again, as once the spices have been bought, the actual dish is not an expensive dish to make. My friends love Butter Chicken and my family love it also,  so I feel sure it will be worth investing in the spices as they will not go to waste.

Now for the dish itself,

What do you think.  Does this Butter Chicken look tasteless and boring.... I would say, absolutely not.  I'm looking at the photograph and I could just reach for a piece of Naan bread or crusty bread and dip it straight into the Butter Chicken sauce.

So let us begin with the ingredients you will need to make Butter Chicken.


Serves 4

1kg of chicken legs 


2 garlic cloves ~ grated or crushed
1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon of chilli powder
1 teaspoon of garam masala
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons olive oil
100ml full fat Greek Yoghurt


40g of unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves ~ grated or crushed
1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon of garam masala 
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon of chilli powder
8 crushed cardamom pods ~ crushed, seeds removed
1 teaspoon of sea salt
2 tablespoons of tomato puree
1 400g tin of tomatoes ~ chopped
1 tablespoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of sugar
Water - fill the empty tin of tomatoes with water
100 ml Greek Yoghurt
Handful of coriander ~ chopped

You will also need a large baking tray
a baking rack



Using a large sized bowl, mix together all the marinade ingredients.

Place the chicken in the bowl and spoon over the marinade and make sure each piece of chicken is coated.  Cover the bowl with a plate or if you prefer clingfilm and place the bowl in the fridge for at least 4 hours or overnight.


Preheat the oven to 180 F

Using a large baking tray, place a baking rack over the baking tray, as you will find, whilst the chicken is cooking some of the marinade will drip through the holes in the baking rack. 

Place the marinaded chicken on the grill rack, spoon extra marinade onto the top of the chicken and bake for 10 to 15 minutes.

Remove from the oven and brush the chicken with oil and turn over. At this point I spoon any residue of marinade onto the chicken. Cook for another 10-15 minutes.   You may find there is still some marinade left in the bowl, but don't worry as it can be added to the sauce.

Whilst the chicken is cooking, make the sauce.


Using a medium sized pan.

Using a medium heat, melt the butter and add the grated garlic and ginger.  Cook for a couple of minutes, moving the ingredients around the pan.

Turn up the heat and,

add the garam masala, ground coriander,  turmeric, chilli powder, cardamom seeds.

Stir for 2 minutes.

Reduce the heat.

Add the tomato puree to the pan and stir for another couple of minutes.

Add the tin of chopped tomatoes, sugar, water, lemon juice
and salt.

Bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. If you have any left over marinade, place it in the sauce (waste not want not) and simmer for a further 5 minutes. Taste for seasoning, add more salt if necessary.


Using a wide pan, place the baked chicken into the pan and gently pour the sauce around the chicken. Place a lid on the pan and gently simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes. Halfway through the cooking time baste the chicken with the sauce.

When the chicken is cooked, stir in the Greek yoghurt and garnish with some chopped coriander leaves.

You can serve this with Basmati rice and naan bread, or sometimes as I do, just crusty bread.  I have even been known to serve Butter Chicken with mashed potatoes, because the plain mashed potato works well with the rich spicy sauce. 

I have also used this sauce to make a similar curry ~ Paneer Curry.  I have added the recipe to this weeks Featured post.

Now just a word about cooking times.  It is always difficult to say how long it will take for meat to cook, because it depends on the size of the portions being used.  You might find you need to cook your chicken a little longer. So please, always check to make sure the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Also, you might find this Butter Chicken too spicy, or not spicy enough.... again, adjust the heat to suit your taste.

.... and do I think you will make this Butter Chicken again.... oh absolutely.

Take care and I will catch up with you next Saturday.

Saturday, 13 October 2018


Good Afternoon to you,

I was talking to George the other day, about the fact that there are so many text abbreviations I do not understand.

For instance 'lol'.... it took me an age to discover that the letters stood for 'laugh out loud'.... how had this happened, why had this passed me by..... and when did 'haha' become 'lol'. 

Back in the days when I wrote letters and I wanted to write something funny, I would always finish the sentence with 'haha'.... making sure the recipient of the letter realised I was being funny, but it seems 'haha' is now obsolete and has been replaced with 'lol'.

.... and who is the person, who has brought me up to date with texting lingo.... someone of my age?  I'm afraid not, it is George's young nephew who when I asked if he knew what 'haha' stood for, said he hadn't a clue  and he thought it was so funny that I did not know what 'lol' meant, because apparently it had been around forever.... this coming from an 11 year old.... forever seemed an odd word to use (haha) .... sorry, I couldn't help myself.

So he decided to test my knowledge, which as you can tell by now, is pretty limited.

Here goes, wish me luck.

BTW ~ 'By the way' ~ nope,
I had no idea.

How about IDK ~ nope, I failed again. Apparently it stands for 'I Don't Know'.

Would I fare any better with TTYL ~ Those of you who are old enough to remember the Jimmy Young Show on Radio 2, will remember Jimmy saying goodbye with the initials TTFN ~ 'Ta Ta For Now'. It sounded so similar, but I couldn't imagine youngsters still saying Ta Ta. So I thought long and hard, as this was becoming embarrassing. How about 'Text those you love'.... I thought that was pretty good.... can you tell I was clutching at straws, trying to save face.  I shouldn't have bothered, I should have just given in gracefully,  because really, this was becoming embarrassing.  You may be surprised to learn that 'Text those you love' was totally wrong, the initials stand for 'Talk to you later'..... I know, I know, I really should have worked that one out.

....and finally... BRB ~ Be right back. By now I feel sure you will see  a pattern emerging and you will not be surprised to learn, that I didn't know this one either.

At which point George's nephew decided to give up on me, because my knowledge of texting was certainly below par, actually if there is anything below par, then that is what I scored, as  I scored a big round zero.

So it got me thinking about abbreviations which I used when I was young.

Do you remember,

writing the letters S.W.A.L.K on the back of envelopes which were sent to your boyfriend.

.... even more, do you remember what the letters stood for?  If you are of a certain age, then I feel sure you will remember,

the letters stood for, 
'Sealed with a loving kiss'

Or how about,

no, not the country,
Hope Our Love Lasts and Never Dies

I used to think George was so romantic when he sent me letters with H.O.L.L.A.N.D. written on the back of the envelope.

.... and my most favourite and one we have used as a couple for the past 50 years is,

'381'.  These numbers have driven our daughters crazy for years, because we have not told them what they mean.  Of course they have asked, but we just smile and say nothing. To be honest we always thought that they would discover the meaning, but do you know they never have. So finally, after all the years of asking, they are going to find out today.  '381' means 3 words..... I love you..... 8 letters ~ I love you and 1 meaning ~ I love you.

I wonder if I tested George's nephew, would he know their meaning.

Of course not, life has moved on and I feel sure when he reaches my age, he will probably feel the same as I do because technology is moving so fast.

.... but you never know, he might have a lovely nephew, who in the future, will help him, as much as he has helped me.

Take care and I will see you next week.

As Always,

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...