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Thursday, 21 September 2017

EVERYTHING IS COMING UP GREEN IN MY NEW GARDEN

Good Morning to you,


It is roughly 3 months since we moved into our new home and one of our biggest tasks was getting to grips with the garden.

Do you remember how it looked when we first moved in?  Goodness me, there was so much to do.  I have to say that both George and I did not feel phased by the amount of work which was needed to bring this garden to life, we both saw the new garden as a wonderful challenge. 

Its not to say that we haven't been tired at the end of our gardening days, because we have, but it has been a good tiredness and we are so pleased with what we have achieved.

Now before I show you the progress we have made, I have to tell you, the following photographs are not the style you are used to me showing you. My previous garden was a beautiful, mature garden, whereas this garden needs so much basic work to be done before we could even consider any planting.


One of the first jobs we had to do and when I say 'we' I mean the royal 'we'..... George. He had to pressure wash both of the decks.  They were covered in algae and quite honestly they were a danger as they were so slippery. I came out of the house one morning to hang out my washing and I almost slipped and fell.  Luckily I managed to hold onto the side of the door, otherwise I would have landed with a nasty bump.

So George set to and both of the decks were transformed.


George pressure washed the deck by the kitchen and also the deck at the bottom of the garden.  You can see the deck drying in the sunshine. The difference when George had finished was amazing.


As you can see, during July/August, the grass began to grow. We had considered re-turfing the lawn, but Phyllis suggested we wait, as given time, the lawn would recover and she was right.  Initially when Gary our friendly gardener, cut the grass, the garden looked more like a hay field, but after a few days we could see a light green haze forming over the garden, just little dots of green here and there. We were so pleased when we realised the lawn could be rescued.


Whilst we waited for the grass to grow, we decided to dig our new borders.  I dug whilst George,


removed the turf and weeded.  As you can see, George is a man who knows who he is and is not afraid to wear pink gardening shoes.


After a lot of laborious work removing so many weeds, the first border was finished.  As you can see our plants were waiting in line ready to be planted.


After digging the first border, George decided to paint all the fencing surrounding the garden.  I chose the colour green because I felt the fence would blend into the background once our trees and shrubs were planted.

So we now have, the fences painted green,


the grass as you can see is turning a beautiful green. We have fed the grass it's autumn feed so we are hoping that it will clear any weeds which are lingering in the the lawn.


The decking has been painted green.  A more bluey green, than the fence, but we needed anti-slip paint and we could not find a matching colour.  When all my roses, jasmine and clematis have been planted, you will never notice the difference. There are a couple of fence panels that seem to need a little more paint, but that has to wait for the next sunny day.

As you can see, I could not wait to begin planting, so I have added a few winter pansies to give us a little colour and focus in the garden.


.... and do you remember the decking by my back door.  Not very attractive is it.... and this is after it had been power washed.


George being the man of action that he is, once again, sprang into action wearing his pink gardening shoes,


and transformed the unsightly decking into a thing of beauty.  I realise it is a little extreme to describe a decking as a thing of beauty, but quite honestly, the way it looked before, to me it really has become a thing of beauty.

I've just noticed the beautiful pink dahlia petal on the decking. Doesn't it stand out well against the green.... ooh I cannot wait to begin my planting around this deck.

As I mentioned earlier, none of these photographs are gorgeous, but they are photographs of our hard work.  We have to do all this boring work, before we can turn our attention to the planting, although as you saw earlier, I couldn't help myself, I just had to add a few plants to the garden.

I have decided that each month I will show you what we have achieved in the garden.  We are working hard because we want to have all our daffodils, tulips, snowdrops, bluebells and whitebells planted before the middle of October.

Before I leave you, I wanted to say that I am sorry I have not visited and not replied to comments as much as I usually do.  The garden has taken up so much of our time, that I have not even sat in front of the computer until today.  As the winter approaches, there will be less to do in the garden and I will have much more time to visit.

So for now, please forgive me, I promise I will get back to normal very soon.

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

As Always,





Thursday, 14 September 2017

MOTH ORCHIDS ~ EASIER TO CARE FOR THAN YOU MIGHT THINK

Good Morning to you,


I am settled in our new home.

.... and how do I know this for sure?

Well I will tell you. I have found the time to potter. A thing I truly love.

.... also, I have stopped trying to put the broom inside the fridge. Isn't that crackers, why on earth would I do that. Goodness only knows.

I wouldn't mind, but the design of my new kitchen is totally different to the design of my previous kitchen, so I'm not sure why I kept opening the fridge door wanting to place the broom inside. I am pleased to report, things have settled down and the broom has found it's new home, not in the fridge, but in a cupboard. Once more my life is settling down to a nice rhythm.

.... and the pottering.

I have finally managed to find the time to care for 


my Moth orchids.  
Since we  moved house, time has been taken up with settling into our new home. So my orchids have not received the attention they deserve. 


They have not been sprayed with water


or
had their leaves dusted.
My normal routine has gone right out of the window. 


Luckily for me, my Moth orchids have forgiven my tardiness


and rewarded me with the most beautiful flowers.
This beautiful white orchid, lives in our conservatory and it loves the warm conditions which the conservatory provides.  


Whilst this pretty pink orchid,  which sits comfortably on my kitchen windowsill, also loves it's new home.  
 It really is a vision of beauty.


When I am peeling potatoes or chopping vegetables for our supper, I look out of my kitchen window and before I see my garden, I take in the beauty of this lovely Moth orchid.


All the Moth orchids I have shown you are still flowering and will continue to do so for a month or more.

.... but I have 3 orchids which are dormant, sitting on my kitchen windowsill, which will flower in a few months time.

Before they are delivered to their new home on the kitchen windowsill, I cut back the stems just above a node. They are then watered once a week and fed once a month until new growth starts appearing, then I increase the feed to once a week. 

So when your Moth orchids have finished flowering, don't throw them away.  I know a lot of my friends have done so in the past, but changed their minds, once they realised how easy it was to care for them. 

If you would like to know more about caring for your Moth Orchids.  I wrote about this, way back in June 2013. Since first writing about Moth orchids I have since discovered a plant feed which is sprayed onto the leaves.  This makes caring for Moth Orchids even easier.

I find as I have bought Moth orchids at different times of the year, I always have 2 or 3 orchids flowering at the same time, when the 1st batch have finished flowering, I have another batch ready to burst into flower.

Now I thought I should mention, I am not telling you that my way is the only way to care for Moth orchids, as you may have another way. I am sharing with you, my experience, of caring for Moth orchids. I mention this, because  as with cooking and baking or anything else you read about, here, on Ivy, Phyllis and Me! I am sharing my experiences with you.

So if you don't have a Moth orchid on your coffee table.... treat yourself, as they are not very expensive.  Here in England they can be bought quite cheaply from supermarkets.

I promise you, once you've bought one, you will buy another and another.

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

As Always





Saturday, 9 September 2017

BLUE AND WHITE

Good Morning Everyone,

 Gosh, can you believe it,  Wednesday is here again!  Where does the time go? Phyllis did warn me, that the older you get the quicker time passes.  I am inclined to agree to a certain extent, but I also believe, the busier you are the faster time passes and since I have started blogging my days are so full they seem to be  zipping by!

What is your opinion on blue and white, do you love it or hate it?


 I  love  blue and white, whether it is blue and white ceramics, blue and white material...well let's just say anything blue and white makes me smile.



I grew to love blue and white when I lived in Germany as a young married wife. 

Look how young I was, a friend snapped this photograph without me knowing


 I've noticed blue and white  comes in and out of fashion, but I have never cared for fashion with regards to the home.  I like my home to be individual and to be a collection of  items which tell the story of our married life. I'm not interested in things which are disposable and that will flit in and out of my life. I don't want to be told, this is what I should have this year and what colours are in vogue at the moment.  I want to be an individual and I want my home to reflect this. I want to display treasured things that stay with me, that mean something when I look at them.  To remember where it was bought or who gave the item to me. I have loved building our home slowly over the years and not to rush out to buy the latest whatever. Our home is filled with a wonderful eclectic mix and we love it. 





 So with that in mind, I thought today I would show you something that I really love,  my collection of blue and white plates. Well not my entire collection, as you would be bored to tears if I showed you them all.  So I've selected a few pieces which I think you will enjoy.   These blue and white plates are from different parts of the world and have been packed and unpacked so many times that I have lost count.  Some beautiful plates  have been lost along the way, but that is part of of life!

A Blue Delft Plate


This is a beautiful Blue Delft plate. This is such a pretty plate.  The flowers  appear to be  huddled together, and remind me of a coral reef.  Then there are the taller flowers stretching their faces towards the sun, you can almost sense their movement in the wind. See the little bug, don't you just love   that it has gone unnoticed by  the bird.


Royal Doulton Plate




This plate is a fine china Royal Doulton Plate.  The willow pattern was designed by Thomas Minton around 1790. 

Willow refers to the pattern and the background colour is always white, whilst the foreground colour could be blue, pink, green or brown.  Here is a poem which describes the Willow pattern.
Two birds flying high,
A Chinese vessel, sailing by,
A bridge with 3 men, sometimes 4,
A willow tree hanging oer,
A Chinese temple, there it stands,
Built upon the river sands,
An apple tree, with apples on,
A crooked fence to end my song.


This plate is from Portugal and is quite different from the previous plates I have shown you. Do you see  the  cut outs, I feel this is a more feminine looking plate. 





This plate is from Dresden, Germany.  We visited there many years ago and this plate was bought as a memory of that visit.





This is "Water Tower" a Wedgwood Queen's Ware blue and white plate

 Do you see the sun peeking through the clouds and the little girl playing with her cat.


You don't get a sense of size from this picture, but the plate measures
14 inches in width.  It is spectacular hanging on the wall.


....... and now for something a little different. This is a beautiful Spanish Plate, it is so vibrant to look at ..... it reminds me of hot sunny days.


Size - 14 inches wide

This is another large plate from Spain, I know there is brown and green amongst the blue, but look how vibrant the blue colour is, again it is a stunning plate.




This is a Japanese plate.  George loves Bonsai trees and has quite a few which he cares for.  The spruce tree to the left of the plate reminds me of  George's Bonsai trees.





Isn't this Portuguese plate fabulous.  I just love this plate.

....... and finally,



Not one,

but

two

 Blue Delft Tiles


Sorry about the gaps in the corners, they really aren't this big.



Blue Delft Tile

I hope you have enjoyed looking at this small selection of my  blue plates. I have so many more to share with you, but I will leave that for another day, as I don't want you to overload on blue and white!

Enjoy the rest of your week and I will catch up with  you on Sunday.  Until then, take care.

Best Wishes,




Daphne xxx

Thursday, 7 September 2017

GOULASH ~ I MADE IT MY WAY

Good Morning to you,


I was travelling on the bus the other day and the lady in front of me was reading a magazine.  She lifted the magazine and the headline read '60 is the new 40'.

I was intrigued and I  started thinking about  reasons why I feel woman of today appear younger than our grandmothers. 

I feel there are a couple of contributing factors. The first is clothes.  There are no style rules for women of our age, we are free to choose whichever style we wish to wear, whereas women of Ivy, my grandmother's generation, did have to conform to a certain set of style rules.

I remember Ivy would always wear beautifully cut clothes, she always wore a hat when she went out and about and her hair was curled. She always carried gloves and a handbag which matched her shoes and her perfume was glorious, she always wore Chanel No 5. The one thing I never saw Ivy wear was trousers.... women of Ivy's generation just didn't have the luxury of wearing trousers,  as it was deemed unladylike.

Nowadays we have so much more freedom where clothes are concerned.  I often wear trousers, actually they are so comfortable, that I probably wear them a little too much, I  have to remind myself every now and again, that I have skirts hanging in my wardrobe waiting to be worn.

Secondly, we have a great choice of hairstyles to choose from. If we wish we can wear our hair long, medium or short, with no one  raising their eyebrows at the length of our hair. The ability to have our hair coloured has made such a difference. Although I do have friends who have embraced their grey hair and I have to say it does look lovely, maybe I will consider this in the future when I tire of going to the hairdressers.  On second thoughts, I think I had better retract that last statement, as Natasha and Danielle will be raising their eyebrows, when they read the words I have just written, because it is a silly sentence.  They know and I know, that I love visiting the hairdressers, so I will never allow my hair to go grey. It just will not happen....  I am being being totally honest with you.

Although it is true to say, Ivy did look older than I do at my present age, she still looked beautiful to my young eyes. Her hair was always neat and tidy, I never saw a strand of hair out of place. I remember on occasions she had her hair permed and also I have seen photos of her with waved hair. She wore her hair long when she was a young girl and shorter as she became older.

.... but Ivy's life was very different to mine. Is it any wonder that I look younger. She lived through 2 world wars, once as a young girl and then again when she was a woman.

These periods in Ivy's life, were difficult, as they were times when food and clothing were in short supply. Firstly as a young girl in the early 1900s and you will get a little snapshot of Ivy's younger years here.  Also during  World War II, when rationing was in place. Gramps was away on ship with the Royal Navy, so it was difficult to work the allotment, which normally provided fresh fruit and vegetables for Ivy, Gramps and my father.  To have a husband away fighting in the war, a young son to look after and continuous bombing of Portsmouth Harbour, must have taken its toll. To deal with rationing, Ivy, like all the women of her generation, had to be creative when it came to cooking and clothing. 

Whereas I can buy any type of food I choose and within reason, buy any item of clothing I desire. With a healthy diet, clothes, hair and makeup I have available to me, is it any wonder that I look younger than Ivy did at my age.

Do I consider myself fortunate?  Absolutely. 

Am I grateful? Again absolutely.

What are your thoughts on '40 being the new 60'?

Now in terms of age, today's original recipe, is classed as old, but I would class my version as young.



Today we are making my version of Goulash.  I have not written Hungarian Goulash in the title, because this is not an authentic recipe.  It is a recipe which started as Hungarian Goulash, but which has evolved over the years to suit my family's taste buds.

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


the fabulous Frank Sinatra singing 'Saturday Night Is The Loneliest Night Of The Week'.

I was playing this song, and doing a quick two step around the kitchen, whilst gathering my ingredients, when George walked into the kitchen. He took my hand and we had a little two step around the kitchen together. These are precious moments.


INGREDIENTS
YOU WILL NEED
TO MAKE MY VERSION
OF 
GOULASH

Serves 6

1kg stewing steak
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
1 red sweet pepper, deseeded and sliced
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
1 stick of celery, sliced
2 tablespoons of paprika
3 tablespoons of tomato puree
sea salt and black pepper
400 ml of chicken stock
200g tin of tomatoes ~ chopped
200ml red wine
4 tablespoons of Worcestershire Sauce


HOW TO MAKE
MY VERSION 
OF
GOULASH




Finely slice the onion.

Place 2 tablespoons of olive oil into a large pan.
Place the pan over a medium heat
and 
gently cook the onions until they are golden brown.


Grate the garlic and add to the pan. 
 Cook for a couple of minutes.



Add the paprika, tomato puree and tin tomatoes
to the pan and mix everything together.

Add the red wine and bring to the boil, simmer to allow the alcohol to evaporate. This usually takes a couple of minutes.


Add 1 teaspoon of salt
and

1 teaspoon of black pepper.



Slice the celery into small pieces
and
add to the pan


Cut the carrots into chunks
and
add to the pan.



Cut the sweet red pepper in half
and
remove all the seeds.
Slice the remaining sweet pepper
and
add to the pan.


Add the stewing beef and stir to incorporate all of the ingredients.


Add the Worcestershire sauce to the chicken stock 
and stir.
Pour into the pan.
Stir the ingredients together once again.


Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat

and simmer for 2 hours or until the meat is nice and tender. Check after an hour that the liquid has not evaporated too much.  If it does you can always add a little more stock.

Check for seasoning.  You might find you need extra salt or black pepper.

Then all you have to do, is find a bowl


some crusty bread to mop up the juices

and enjoy.

Sometimes George enjoys this Goulash just as it is with some crusty bread.  Other times I will serve it with creamy mashed potatoes and broccoli.  It just depends on our mood. Which ever way you eat this Goulash, I feel sure it will become a favourite when the colder weather arrives.

The nights are rapidly closing in and there is a definite chill in the air, so this is the perfect warming supper.

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


As Always,













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