Saturday, 12 May 2018


Good Morning to you,

Do you feel the year is galloping by? No sooner do I blink and it seems the month has gone, with the month of May being no exception.  Not that it has finished, as it has barely started.... or so I thought. 

You see the month of May has really thrown me into a tizz, because I seem to have lost track of the days. On Sunday I had it in my mind that it was the beginning of May.  I have no idea why, it just was.

I was waiting for my nephew to collect me to go to a family bar-b-que.  I had finished packing pasta salad, 3 bean salad and a plum tart into my basket and I was covering each item with an ice block.... please don't ask me why I wasn't using our ice box.... that is a whole other story, so a basket had to do.

Just as I put the last ice block into the basket, the phone rang and it was my niece, Rue, who, after a little chat, mentioned the reason she was ringing, was to ask, if I had the time to make her mum a chocolate cake for her birthday. Which of course I was pleased to do.   Whilst talking to Rue, I was thinking that I had plenty of time to make the cake as it was not needed until a week Thursday.  Just as I was talking to Rue, my mobile rang, so I ask Rue if she would mind holding on, because I knew it was Gloria ringing.  Gloria mentioned that her son was running late and would be with me in 10 minutes, I thanked her, said I was looking forward to seeing her and put the phone down.  I then had a quick chat to Rue and said I would see her a week Thursday and I never gave it another thought.

Of course George was not privy to this conversation because he was already at Gloria's, helping with the bar-b-que and I had forgotten to mention that Rue had rung.  If he had heard the conversation I feel sure he would have said something earlier.

Anyway, Thursday arrived and I was getting myself ready to go to my new craft group. I said goodbye to George, saying I would see him later in the afternoon.

George said, 'Before you go, I just wondered, did you remember to buy a birthday card for my sister, as we can pop over, to wish her a happy birthday, when you get back.'

To which I replied,'Oh yes, I've bought the birthday card, but I think you have got the date wrong, as it isn't her birthday until next week.'

George gave me a strange look and said, 

'It's not next week, I think you will find, it's today.'

I said, 

'Of course it's not today, it's only the beginning of May'. 

George replied, 

'I think you've got yourself in a bit of a muddle, as today's date is the 10th, check the barometer if you don't believe me.'

I checked and the date read, the 10th, but I wasn't having it, I thought maybe the battery had made the clock run too fast.  So I decided to check my trusty paper calendar.... and there it was, the date was certainly the 10th May, to which I howled, yes honestly, I think it is fair to say, I howled, 

'Oh no, I promised to make a birthday cake for today.'

George asked, 'What birthday cake, I don't remember you mentioning that you would make a cake.'

I replied, 'No you wouldn't know, because you weren't here on Sunday, when Rue rang to ask me to bake a cake... and now I feel awful, because I have mixed up my dates.'

George said, 'I don't know what your getting upset about, why don't you just buy a chocolate cake from the bakery.'

.... and it was as if he had blasphemed.... buy a chocolate cake from the bakery. How could he even suggest such a thing, when I had promised to make one.... I know, I was a tad dramatic.

I said, 'Anyway, I couldn't buy a cake, even if I wanted to, because I have bought all the ingredients, ready to make the chocolate cake.' 

I am smiling to myself, because on reflection, that really doesn't make sense, but my mind tends to fixate on the strangest things when I become stressed.

'Yes, but there is nothing that won't keep'. George continued,  'Seriously, you have arranged to go to your craft group, so there is no time to bake a cake. Make it easy on yourself,  pop to the bakery and buy a cake. I would go but I will probably choose the wrong sort of cake.'

I remained in a 'fizz' for a while, but George gently 'stroked my feathers' and I calmed down. Of course I could see the sense in buying a cake, so I decided I just had to get over myself and not feel I had let my sister-in-law down, by not making the cake myself.

So I went to the bakery and I bought a lovely chocolate cake and we delivered it to my sister in law later in the afternoon.... and guess what, she was over the moon with her surprise.  I apologised to Rue, and she laughed and said she didn't know why I was so upset, to which I replied, that I felt awful because I had promised to bake her mum a cake.

When George relayed the story to the rest of the family, he of course, embellished it quite a bit, which made everyone roll around laughing, saying I was silly to get myself in such a tizz.

.... and of course they were absolutely right.... but it's just the way I am.

So today, on 12th May 2018, we are making the Chocolate Yoghurt Cake, which should have been made for 10th May 2018.

Which secretly pleases George no end, as this cake is an added extra, as I was not going to bake a cake this weekend. 

So it's on with the pinnie and I know I've not chosen any music for a while, but today, is an exception. I have chosen this  video for George, for being so nice.

Neil Young singing Harvest Moon.... are you swaying yet.... I am.... I love, love, love this song.

I really must stop  listening to Neil and organise my ingredients.


100g plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
175g unsalted butter ~ room temperature
200g dark Muscavado sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla essence
3 large eggs ~ beaten
150ml Greek yoghurt
150g self raising flower ~sifted


1 tablespoon cocoa powder 
Chocolate stars


100g plain chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
50g unsalted butter
350g icing sugar ~ sifted
6 level tablespoons Greek yoghurt


23cm loose bottom cake tin
baking parchment
Small saucepan 
Pyrex dish to fit the saucepan


Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C Fan

Butter the cake tin and line with baking parchment

Boil a kettle of water and pour into the saucepan until quarter full.  Place on the heat.

Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in the Pyrex bowl. Place the bowl over the saucepan and allow the chocolate to slowly melt.
Set aside.

Place the butter and sugar into a mixing bowl and whisk until light and fluffy.

Add the vanilla essence, then gradually add the beaten eggs.  Continue whisking the mixture.  If you find it is beginning to curdle, add a tablespoon of flour to the mixture.

Pour the melted chocolate into the bowl and the yoghurt and continue to whisk until both have been fully incorporated.

Using a metal spoon, gently fold the sifted flour into the mixture.

Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake tin and bake for 45 minutes or until the cake is thoroughly cooked.

Leave the cake to cool for 10 minutes then run a palette knife around the edge of the cake to make sure the edge is released.  Leave the cake in the cake tin until it is cooled.

When cooled.  Take a second cooling tray and 

turn the cake upside down, so that the top becomes the bottom and the bottom becomes the top. This gives a nice flat surface to decorate.


Using a low heat, melt the butter and chocolate in saucepan.

Pour the butter and chocolate mixture into a bowl.

Add the icing sugar and the yoghurt and whisk until smooth. 

Continue whisking until the frosting cools. At this point you will also see it thickening.

Spread the frosting over the top of the cake and if you like you can spread the topping down the side of the cake.

Sprinkle with sifted cocoa and decorated with chocolate stars.

Then all there is left to do,


cut a slice and enjoy.

As you can see, this cake has a lovely, moist texture. It looks as if the cake has sunk in the photograph, but as you could see, when I turned the cake upside down, the surface was flat.  The frosting has decided to run down the centre of the cake.

If you do not fancy yoghurt in your frosting, just make your usual frosting.  I however, love the flavour of this chocolate frosting, as the yoghurt stops the frosting from being too sweet.

Whether you make this Chocolate Yoghurt cake on a Thursday or Friday.... I feel sure you will thoroughly enjoy it.

Until next Saturday, take good care of yourself.

As Always,

Saturday, 5 May 2018


Good Morning to you,

When I write to you each week, I feel I am writing a letter to a friend.  In the letter, I tell you about things which have 'tickled my fancy' during the week.  

The letters tend to be long, because once I start writing to you, I cannot stop, as the words keep flowing.

.... but as from this week, every now and again, there is going to be a slight change, as I am going to introduce a postcard. On my postcard,  there will be fewer words, but the bonus will be, not one picture, which is the normal rule, but between 6 and 10 pictures, because why have 1 picture when you can have many more to enjoy.

.... and the reason for the postcard is, I want to share our progress in the garden and what better way to do that, than with photographs. I also need to spend more time in the garden because as you know, when we moved here last year, there was so much work to do.  If you are new to Ivy, Phyllis and Me! and you would like to see the huge task we faced, please press this link 

As an added bonus, we listened to the weather forecast last night and we have been promised the most glorious 4 days of warm sunshine. Which is so lovely, but as you know with the sunshine, comes the weeds.  We really thought we had eradicated most of the weeds, but no, they are like a 'bad penny' they just keep returning.  I do not use any chemicals in the garden, so I have the laborious task of hoeing the weeds, over and over again as this weaken the little blighters.  On the plus side.... and there is always a plus side, I am exercising my arms.

So before this postcard, turns into a letter, I will show you how the garden has evolved in just one year.

Now why am I showing you a shabby window box? The pansies, fritillary and daffodils are looking lovely, but the window box, well, that is in a sorry state of affairs. 

.... but it is spring time and the birds have taken a fancy to my window box and are using the recycled material for making their nests. I certainly do not begrudge them, actually I am pleased.

This Montana Clematis is spreading so well and the flowers are so pretty.

The ferns are unfurling all over the garden and when unfurled they will cover this space.  In the background an Evening Primrose is growing.  I have been very successful with growing these plants from seed.

The grass is growing well and when the bushes along the fence grow, we will be living in a sea of green.

I really think the daffodils and tulips will be finished by the end of this hot spell, so I will enjoy them while I can.

These bulbs I planted in my chimney pot  have grown very happily.

Now this photograph, you might think is a little strange, but the reason I am showing you, is this is what I am working towards.  All my borders spilling over with cottage garden flowers. Here you can see foxgloves and campanula ready to throw up their flowering shoots.

Look a little closer and you will see the little pink flowering buds on this geranium, which I feel sure will burst open over the weekend.

.... and at the end of last summer, I sprinkled Forget-Me-Not seeds into the soil.... and they have rewarded me by popping up all over the garden.

What do you think of these pair?  As you know George has a brilliant sense of humour and he is the reason these fabulous little frogs are sitting on the stone. Apparently, they represent George and I.... do you like how I am looking adoringly up at George.  

I love a little humour in a garden.

Speaking of George, I think it's time I left you and went to check on him.... as left to his own devices, you never know what he might get up to in the garden.

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

As Always,

Saturday, 28 April 2018


Good morning to you,

Have you heard the latest news with regards to interiors?

Apparently the art of Macrame is coming back into fashion, albeit in a more up to date form.

.... and here I am, old enough to remember when Macrame was trendy first time around, in the early 1970's.  

When Macrame first appeared, it was such a contrast to anything our parents had in their homes, along with Peacock chairs and rattan tables.... it was an era of change. We did not want the same furniture and accessories, we wanted to be completely different. Practically every young couple seemed  to have Macrame decorating their home, in one form or another. Honestly everyone seemed to be Macrame crazy. I remember Phyllis thought the idea was silly and did not embrace the new fashion, in any shape or form, in fact I think it would be fair to say she hated it.  She could not understand why we youngsters wanted plants hung from the ceiling, it completely mystified her.

Macrame plant holders were the most popular item amongst my friends, filled with trailing plants and hung from the corner of the ceiling. With the more adventurous of my friends, having two or three holders suspended from the ceiling filled with plants.... and this could be hazardous, depending on the type of ceiling you had. I remember George screwing a hook into the ceiling, assuring me that it would be fine.  I did mention that the holder would be heavy because I intended putting fruit into the baskets, but he told me I had nothing to worry about.  So the macrame holder was hung, with the fruit placed into the baskets.... and what happened?  Yes you are right, it crashed onto the floor with the fruit rolling around the room. So it was off to the hardware shop where we discovered the type of fixing George needed. Due to the type of ceiling we had, we needed a butterfly screw. When the butterfly screw was inserted into the ceiling, all was fine, although to be honest, I did avoid walking underneath the Macrame holder for a little while, until I was fully satisfied it was secure.

... and what type of plant did we use to fill our Macrame holders. I remember my friends added Spider plants and instead of removing the new plants, they allowed them to grow. By allowing the baby Spider plants to grow, they created a trailing plant, from what should have been an upright plant, 

Another popular trailing plant was Devils Ivy, this was because the leaves were a glossy green and by regularly applying a little Baby Bio cleaner, the leaves would remain shiny. When the plant became too long,  it was re-potted and a moss pole was introduced, so the trailing plant, became a climber. The ivy was tied to the moss pole and  the size of the moss pole,  dictated how large the ivy grew.  Some friends managed to grow plants up to six feet tall.

It was always a trailing plant that was used.... although I was slightly different, because as I mentioned earlier, I inserted three different woven baskets into the circles and used the baskets to store my fruit.  The baskets were hung from the ceiling, over the the kitchen counter, which I thought was very chic.... it was so different to how my friends used their macrame holders. Over the years, I've always created a twist to whatever is in fashion, thus creating my very own style.

My mind is racing now, as different thoughts are popping into my head.

Do you remember the Macrame owls which were hung on everyone's walls.  The owl was hung from a horizontal twig which was attached to the top and bottom of the owl.  Actually if I remember rightly, I think the Macrame owl started life on the top twig and finished off on the bottom twig.

Oh and those long handled Macrame shoulder bags were very much in vogue.  If you were a follower of the 'Hippy style' then this was the bag for you.

.... and my absolute favourite, was a Macrame belt I owned, which I loved and used as a hipster belt for my hipster jeans.... does anyone use such a word nowadays.... hipster, I think it has been relegated to the 'old fashioned' section of our vocabulary. Oh and of course the jeans had to be bell bottomed jeans, the bigger the better.

From reading one small article, it brought back a memory, which was tucked away and something which I had not thought about in years.

.... and something which has been around for much, much longer, is an ingredient we are using today.... oranges.

Because today we are using oranges to bake,

an Orange cake. This may look like a very plain cake, but a cake does not have to be 'all singing and dancing' to be an enjoyable cake.  When time is of the essence, this is an easy cake to put together.

So without further ado, it's on with the pinnie and time to organise my ingredients.


200g plain flour 
2 teaspoons of baking powder
200g caster sugar
4 large eggs
150 ml sour cream
1 large orange ~ juiced and zested ~ you will need 4 tablespoons of orange juice
150 ml sunflower oil


2 tablespoons caster sugar
6 tablespoons of orange juice

You will need 1 x 23cm loose bottom sandwich tin
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C Fan 


Oil a 23cm sandwich tin and line with baking parchment.

Sieve the flour and baking power into a large mixing bowl.

Add the caster sugar and mix to combine the ingredients.

Using a separate medium sized bowl, whisk the eggs, sour cream, orange zest, orange juice and sunflower oil.  Whisk until combined.

Pour the wet ingredients, into the dry ingredients and thoroughly mix together, making sure there are no lumps of flour in the mixture.

Pour the cake mixture into the pre-prepared sandwich tin.

Place in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until the cake is thoroughly baked.

 When the cake has been baking for 30 minutes, make the syrup.

 Pour the orange juice into a small saucepan and add the caster sugar.

Stir, using a low heat, until the sugar has dissolved. Simmer for 3 minutes.  Set aside for the moment.

 When the Orange cake is baked, remove from the oven, leaving the cake in the cake tin. Using a cake skewer, prick holes over the surface of the cake and brush with the orange syrup. It will seem as if you have too much, but as  the cake cools, it will absorb the syrup.

 When cooled, remove the cake from the cake tin
 and all there is left to do

I thought I would show you a close up of the Orange cake and as you can see, the cake has a lovely texture.

Before I leave you, I think I should explain why I was not with you last week. My only excuse is the weather.... yes the weather. After so much dreadful weather, we had the most glorious week, so both George and I spent our time working in the garden.  We worked hard everyday and to be honest, by the time Saturday arrived, I  was so tired. I never let my age restrict me from doing anything, but I am being honest when I say, sometimes I push myself too far and last week was one such week. 

Also,  because I wanted to get so much work done in the garden, I did not go to my new craft group either, but I fully intend to go this Thursday, so I promise to let you know how it goes.

Until then, take care of yourself and I will catch up with you next Saturday.

As Always,

Thursday, 5 April 2018


Good Morning to you,

My mind is wandering....

I close my eyes, take a breath, and allow myself to travel to warmer times.

I am not visiting India, America, Italy, Cyprus or some other exotic place.

Today, I am much closer to home.
Today I am walking in my summer garden, which is overflowing with beautiful flowers.

Some flowers are tall and sway with the breeze, whilst others have self seeded and find their own place in the garden.

The clematis are busily scrambling up their supports, covering every spare inch of space.

Whilst roses, with their vibrant yellow, bask in the glory of the sun. With each passing day they become paler in colour, until their beauty fades and the petals float to the ground.

.... but whilst some roses have finished their display there are others, who are just learning to climb, stretching their branches towards the sun.

It must be summertime, as the fragrance of roses fills the air

and containers are filled to the brim with petunias, fuchsia and geraniums.

Where old containers are not thrown away, but placed on their sides and filled with flowers.

.... and Evening Primrose, always a welcome sight, stands alone unsupported. As the evening sun goes down, they light my garden with their beauty.


I watch as this young clematis, the Star of India, finds its way through the old plum tree, striving to reach the very top.

I feel so content and so very happy.

.... but then I pause, open my eyes and look out of my window.

This garden I am describing, is not my garden anymore, this is the garden I loved and cherished for so many years, which now belongs to someone else. 

The space I see in front of me, is very different.  There are no billowing flowers, no climbing roses, no flowers swaying in the breeze.

.... instead there is a garden which needs my help. I look closer and I can see the changes we have made, the borders have been dug, bushes have been planted and autumn planted bulbs are beginning to peek through the ground.  This garden is not the same as it was last year, it is slowly changing, and with my help, it will be as beautiful as my previous garden.

There is no sadness for my lost garden, because I look forward to re-creating the style of garden I love, here in my new garden. It will take commitment and energy, and this excites me.

So my first task of the year, is planting as many seeds as possible. When there are large spaces to fill, this is the cheapest way to create colour.

Every seed I plant will be wildlife friendly.... and my first packet of seeds to be planted are,


I agree with my favourite gardener, Monty Don, when he says 

'With lovely ferny foliage and elegant blooms in any colour you like that’ll keep on flowering for months, cosmos are just out of this world'.  

(Mailonline 15/5/15)

With a smile on my face, I know these tiny seeds, will gift me with the most beautiful flowers this summer. I have so many seeds to plant, that I am utilising every empty container I can find.  As you can see these egg boxes work perfectly.

.... and to keep me on track, I have a beautiful garden book, 'at the ready'  to record my plants

and I cannot wait,

to once again, see the cheery, bobbing heads of beautiful flowers, waiting to welcome me, when I walk into the garden this summer.

But for now, I just need to be patient..... oh and believe me when I say, I have plenty of patience, because I know with patience, my new garden is going to give me so much joy.

With patience, my newly planted seeds will grow. With patience, the roses and clematis, I was given for my birthday, will grow. With patience the plants I brought with me, will settle and grow. This is such an exciting time.

How about you? Are you planning your summer garden? Are you reading seed catalogues deciding what seeds to buy, or is your garden, already filled with summer flowers just waiting to burst forth?

Before I leave you, I just wanted to mention that I will not be with you next Thursday, as I have been invited to join another crafting group.  I've met the ladies and they are lovely, so I will have much to tell you when I write next time. I will be returning the following week, but on a different day.  My new day of writing to you will be Saturday. So I will catch up with you on Saturday 21st April.... my goodness that does seem a long way away.

Until then, take good care of yourself.

As Always,

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