Inspirational Ideas Utilizing Greenery From The Garden

Inspirational Ideas Utilizing Greenery From The Garden

Inspirational Ideas Utilising Greenery From The Garden

Nothing beats the feeling of going into my garden, shears in hand and looking for a piece of foliage that will create a centre piece or focal point in my home

With the cost of flowers, it is far more cost effective to use greenery or foliage, it lasts longer and stays evergreen.  If you do not have access to a garden then greenery is easily obtainable from your local flower seller or even a friend’s garden. The look and feel comes from the container you use and how you place the leaves.  Don’t forget the rule, less is more! Greenery lasts forever, some up until 10 weeks or longer, saving you loads of money.  No matter where I am in the world, staying in a hotel, apartment or villa my first notion is to pick some form of greenery or foliage from a nearby park and arrange it in my living space.

5 various forms of greenery and how to use them as centerpieces or focal points in a home:


Tropical greenery can create a breezy vibe indoors. In fact, many floral shops carry tropical leaves such as monstera (delicious monsters), fiddle leaves or split leaves regardless of the season. These leaves can last for about 3 to 4 months and create a simple but elegant statement in your home or dining room table.  Definitely a plant with fringe benefits.

LARGE LEAVES create a bold & beautiful statement! To maintain free-flowing conversation at the table, keep your containers low so diners don’t have to duck around the plants to chat.
ALOES & SUCCULENTS, so versatile and last forever – they grow so easily in a little water and look fabulous. Love this edgy look. I absolutely love the texture of an Aloe and its densely clustered appearance giving an edgy, organic look and feel to a room or dinner table.
Smitten with this idea of RE-cycling old tea cups and using them to grow succulants or to create interesting centrepieces. I would use these for a tea party in the garden or even a alfresco evening grouping various teacups and even tea pots together.
Popular succulents –  all types of Aloe plants, cacti, Jade Plant, Maltese Cross, Mother of Pearl Plant, Miniture Palm Trees, Moonstones and Ponytail Palm.

VARIETY OF GREEN LEAVES… leaves are not just green, they come in various shades of green from light to dark, different textures, plain to patterned with acid-yellows, pale translucent greens, mottled grey-blues, etc. The variety is infinite and only limited by your ability to obtain different leaf types.

Last minute gathering – try this for your next easy and simple idea:

Gather an assortment of cylindrical vases in various sizes, along with large leaves in a variety of textures and colour striations. Put a bit of water in the vases and tuck the leaves inside for a natural display with a modern twist.

HERBS & VEGGIES…an ensemble of herbs give off a super fresh smell. My preferences are: lavender, feverfew, chamomile, rosemary,mint (I love their scent) and sometimes basil, cilantro and chives depending on the food I serve. If you want to use use herbs for a formal evening then styling is the key and the vessel needs to be clean lined. My advice is to use one type of herb, compact it in. Rosemary or mint would be my choice as they look awesome when compacted into a container.. Remember to treat them like flowers, herbs wilt if not kept fresh – suggestion keep them refrigerated until just before you need to place them on your table.

The use of  VEGETABLES – artichokes and FRUIT – fresh lemons make for an simple but effective table setting.


DO YOU HAVE ANY TRIED AND TESTED IDEAS – please comment and share with me as I would love to get you’re your thoughts and any suggestions.

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Pottery Uncovered In Portugal & A Few Portuguese Tapas Recipe’s

Pottery Uncovered In Portugal & A Few Portuguese Tapas Recipe’s

Pottery Uncovered In Portugal & A Few Portuguese Tapas Recipe’s

The History and customs of Portugal can be told through the decorative pieces made with a great sense of humour and imagination.

Portuguese Traditional Pottery: Clay and Glass have always been materials used by artisans in Portugal.

The large Portuguese brands that still exist today, were able to maintain themselves afloat independently of the changes in fashion and demand that have occurred in the past decades. The classic brands focused on the most exclusive products, with more elegant designs, as is the case with world-famous Vista Alegre – this particular brand dates back to 1942 and is well known throughout the world for its high quality porcelain, take a look at their site and you will get a better understanding of their most exclusive designs and must have pieces of homeware. The most “rustic” pieces that began their production focused on the popular masses are easily available in markets all over Portugal.” Caldas da Rainha, just north of Lisbon, is the center of Portuguese pottery due to the abundance of clay deposits. There are so many different designs from the various regions of Portugal each with their own history. I enjoyed these two different sites that give me a little more detail on the various districts and what is distinct about each of them. offer an in depth view of some of the more “high end” porcelain and pottery made in Portugal.

TRADITIONAL RED CLAY AND HAND PAINTED POTTERY is available in all markets, pottery stores and on the road sides throughout Portugal.

PORTUGUESE TAPAS (called petiscos): Thought I would share a few of my favourite tried and tested recipes that I always serve on my red clay pottery collected from various trips to Portugal.

FRIED PORTUGUESE PRAWNS – a family secret from my mom “Mamma Maria”, I really had to do some convincing for Mum to let me post this recipe!!!!

CHICKPEA & CODFISH COMBO – Having a Portuguese evening at home then this is a must:  Chick pea and codfish traditional Portuguese combo. This recipe mixes both key ingredients in a light dressing, all combined into a salad that can be served together with various other tapas dishes or as a starter to a main course.


  • 1kg Large Prawns
  • 1 Large Clove of Garlic
  • 1 cup beer
  • 2 tsp good quality olive oil
  • 2 small chillies (more if you like your prawns spicier)
  • The outer skin of one onion
  • A handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 fresh lemon
  • Salt to taste


  1. Boil Prawns for 15/20 minutes together with chilli, salt and the skin of an onion (this gives the prawns colour) – once boiled remove water and allow prawns to dry
  2. In a frying pan, mix the olive oil, garlic and handful of chopped fresh parsley
  3. Allow sauce to saute for a few minutes then add prawns – toss together in the sauce and then add fresh lemon juice to taste
  4. Serve prawns in beautiful Portuguese pottery – bon apetite!!!

Courtesy of “Mamma Maria” my remarkable motherJ

FLAMED chouriço (in portuguese) using a red clay pottery chouriço dish – chouriço is traditionally flamed with Aquadente *Portuguese Aguardente has several varieties. Aguardente vínica is distilled from wine, either of good quality or undrinkable wines. It is mostly used to fortify wines such as port, or aged to make aguardente velha (old burning water), a kind of brandy. Better known in South Africa as “Fire Water”. Chorizo and most Portuguese products are available in most Everfresh markets –


250 gr cooked chick peas
2 salted cod steaks
1 “cloved onion”
2 cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
2 red pepper
2 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp Sherry vinegar/can use red wine vinegar if you can’t find sherry vinegar
4 tbsp olive oil
Large bunch of parsley

If you’re using pre-soaked chick peas and cod go to step 3.

  1. Soak the cod in cold water for 2-3 days (depending on the thickness of the pieces) changing water twice a day. In the last day add the chick peas to the water to soak overnight. Cod fish can be purchased from (In Portugal you can find de-salted cod fish in most stores and I would use canned chick peas which makes this recipe a little easier and quicker)
  2. Boil in fresh water (with a little more salt) with a “cloved onion” (a peeled onion with cloves) and bay leaves. Take off the heat when chick peas are cooked (these take about 45 minutes and should be soft while keeping their shape).
  3. Boil the cod for about 5 minutes (the middle should be practically raw) in the same water as the chick peas and put aside.
  4. Make the dressing in a pestle and mortar. Smashing the garlic cloves with some sea salt, add cumin seeds and crush, then add the olive oil.
  5. Shred the cod into small pieces and mix with the drained chick peas, red pepper and roughly chopped parsley. Toss in the dressing and serve.

Recipe available on an awesome blog on Portugal and Portuguese food.


A strenuous walk up to the Castelo de St Jorge was not in vain. For a consumer like me, anything that involves a little retail therapy makes exercise all worthwhile.  Discovering all these interesting stores selling handmade ceramics, crafts and beautiful artifacts made my creative senses elate with excitement.
Walking up this quaint winding road to the soft sound of Portuguese fado and house jazz you cannot but take in the beauty of this diverse city – there were people sitting in wine houses eating tapas platters and sipping wine and other tourists meandering in the cobbled streets.  For good handicrafts made by Portuguese artists then these two stores are a must to visit – Nobre Povo – Portuguese Contemporty Handicraft and Azulejo Handmade by us:

THE PRODUCTS FROM BORDALLO PINHEIRO  well known throughout the world and a must to add to any to your homeware collection, even just one or two pieces add a quirkiness to a table – see the many selections of ceramics available on their website and and so many other on-line stores.

“Rafael Bordallo Pinheiro is one of the most influential people of the nineteenth century Portuguese culture, with a remarkable production particularly regarding the areas of humoristic drawing, caricature and ceramic creation. His work represents an unsettling ever timely reality and a fundamental document for political, social, cultural and ideological study of a time period….” Worth a look to find the diverse products sold and to learn a little more about the history of these products

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My Favourite Durban Curry

My Favourite Durban Curry

My Favourite Durban Curry

RECIEPE from the Executive Chef at The Oyster Box – Chef Kevin Joseph’s blog –

“A little history lesson on how curry was introduced to the Colony of Natal.  Curry was introduced over 150 years ago by indentured laborers who came from India, to work in the sugar cane fields. The word ‘curry’ comes from the Tamil word ‘kari’ which means ‘sauce’.

The unique flavours of Indian cooking, which were embraced by British settlers and the Zulus, have been developed over time to make the ‘Durban Curry’, famous around the world.

Durban curries, which are usually hotter, are coloured red with tomatoes, chilies and cayenne pepper. Expert curry makers from Durban boast that a typical Durban Masala curry powder has about 12 different ingredients in the blend. These include ground coriander, cinnamon, cumin, curry leaves, fennel seed, dried chilies and cayenne pepper, as well as ginger and garlic. The array of tasty Durban curries encompass many glorious dishes made from chicken, prawns, fish, beef and vegetables, but the most popular choice is lamb or mutton.

A typical Durban curry is made in a heavy pan. Onions are browned in oil, and then curry powder is added, followed by the garlic and ginger. This mixture is simmered before the lamb, chicken, beef or fish is folded in and then all the remaining ingredients are added. The pan is covered and the dish is left to simmer, bringing all the flavours together. Coriander is added just before serving. Durban curry is usually served over rice, with condiments such as chutney, sambals and pappadums’.

To pick up the essential ingredients for a Durban curry at the local Spice Emporium – . This is the home of spicy blends of curry powders and traditional accompaniments. Although Durban curries can bring tears to the eye, there is always plenty of flavour in every dish.”

Ask them at the store to help put the curry powder blend together to ensure a perfect Durban curry.

The Masala Mix consists of: (100ml):
Mild Masala
Medium Masala

Famous Lamb Curry

Preparation and cooking time: 1 hour

Serves: 4 people



  • 1 kg leg of lamb or shoulder (or 1 kg chicken), cubed
  • 75 ml oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks (10 cm long)
  • 20 ml medium strength masala curry powder (reduce if you prefer a curry with more flavor than heat)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 10 ml crushed garlic and ginger
  • 4 curry leaves
  • 5 ml whole fennel seeds
  • 250 ml water (one cup)
  • 2 large potatoes, peeled and cut in half
  • 1 medium tomato, skinned and diced
  • Coriander (dhania) leaves for garnishing




  1. Washed cube meat and drain water.
  2. Heat oil and add diced onion, cloves and cinnamon sticks.
  3. Add the masala powder mix, stir and add meat to the pot.
  4. Add salt, garlic and ginger, curry leaves and fennel seeds. Stir all ingredients together.
  5. Allow to cool on a high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking for 30 minutes.
  6. As excess water and juices evaporate, add the additional cup of water, followed by the potato and tomato.
  7. When both meat and vegetables are cooked (approximately 30 minutes), simmer on high heat for 5 minutes.
  8. Garnish with coriander and serve with rice, roti and green salad.


Kevin Joseph’s curry powder mix is a carefully guarded secret but we can share what goes in it with you. As too the measurements… only Kevin knows!

For veggies you can substitute the meat with vegetables of your choice including cauliflower, cubed butternut, sweet potato, lentils, carrots, courgettes and more. One note – don’t add cardamon if you are doing a veggie curry!

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Winter Dinner Party At Home…Part 2, the food!!

Winter Dinner Party At Home…Part 2, the food!!

Winter Dinner Party At Home… Part 2, the food!!

“Wine is one of the most agreeable and essential ingredients in life” – Julia Childs

It’s been rather chilly here in the Algarve. With winter in mind, whilst having a few glasses of red wine with a dear friend, Coq au vin was confused with Beef Bourguignon.  Thus the menu unfolded that Beef Bourguignon was going to be the main meal of the night.

Bourguignon means Burgundy, named after the region in France where this dish originated. One of the most important factors when making this dish is to use a good red wine that you would actually drink. Best is either a Cabinet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chianti or a full bodied Burgundy. (This is a very expensive option though)


My research began with the help of my reliable friend “Google” on how to make Beef Bourguignon and where it originated.  In my search for the perfect recipe, I came across this formidable story of Julia Child and her love for French cooking.  She managed to bring the art of French Cuisine to the American market. For a little more insight’s_kitchen.

In the process of my research, I came across the movie that was produced in 2009 called Julie & Julia with Meryl Streep. It reflected on the life of Julia Child and her love for French food and voila I found Julia Powell’s recipe for “Beouf Bourguignon”. The obvious next step was to watch the movie and get inspired. Definitely worth a girlie throw-back moment to 2009.

My Menu for 8:

  • Welcome drinks: A chilly night called for a Ruby Port to be served setting the ambiance for the dinner ahead
  • Mezze Platters:

Mixed leafy greens topped with beetroot seeds and tossed in a herb dressing

Shaved smoked salmon and prawns

Smoked Salmon pate

Stuffed Jalapeno peppers (jar of pickled Jalapeno peppers and then pipe in some soft goat’s cheese)

Cherry tomatoes on the stalk roasted in balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and olive oil

Spicy sweet Chilli sauce

Homemade Bruschetta

  • Beef Bourguignon recipe:

Served with medium sized noodles

  • Dessert (I always keep this as simple as possible):

Mini Profiteroles, Mini Eclairs and Fresh Berries served on my favourite cake stand for all to nibble on

Great evening with friends, sharing good food, wine, loads of laughter and our new homeJ The sign of happy guests is when all are tucked into their food they don’t even notice the photographer.

Hello Portugal,  we here to stay!

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Winter Dinner Party At Home…Part 1, the table setting!

Winter Dinner Party At Home…Part 1, the table setting!

Winter Dinner Party At Home…Part 1, the table setting!

With 2017 well on its way and my life back on track after our move, renovations and the festive season I am excited to share our very first Dinner Party in our new home.

With 2017 well on its way and my life back on track after our move, renovations and the festive season I am excited to share our very first Dinner Party in our new home.

There is always something magical about hosting dinner parties at home and I hope my simple2elegant blogs inspire you to throw your own a little more often. Like most tasks in life, hosting a successful dinner party takes a little research, planning and preparation in advance to help take away the stress.

My basic rules of setting table:

  • Keep it simple
  • Have a plan
  • An elegant set of white crockery is a must
  • Keep to the colour hues of your décor in your home
  • Mix and match with different textured crockery or glassware where possible to add interest
  • Layering of crockery adds texture
  • Have a pre-planned idea of the table setting
  • Set the table the night before or in the morning of your dinner party – it takes away the stress
  • Simple centerpieces

Each place setting began with:

  • Glass chopping board in black and grey
  • large white charger plate
  • A textured felt placemat in grey
  • Layered the dinner plate
  • Adding an entrée plate.
  • TIP: to stop the plates from rubbing I find using a plain white paper serviette between the plates helps

This was our first dinner party in our new home and the start of many more to come. I wanted to reflect the clean simple lines that we have created in our new open plan space. I found inspiration for the table setting after opening a box of my South African collectables from  and my glass chopping boards that I purchased some time ago that get used as placemats from  The glass chopping boards are fabulous, adding texture and most importantly a very easy surface to clean afterwards. The chopping boards also became a great topic of conversation!

The centerpiece was simple and inexpensive to put together.  For those that follow me regularly I am sure that you have picked up on a trend that I absolutely LOVE. The use of garden GREENERY in all forms to give a pop of natural, organic feel to my home and table décor.  The centerpiece and fresh rosemary sprigs that were used on the serviettes added a natural element and worked well with the food that was served. More on this in Part 2 of my blog, The Menu!

Glass bowl

  • 1 Large frilly lettuce
  • Brassica (ornamental cabbage or kale)

Table set, food ready and looking forward to a fabulous evening with special friends! More in Part 2 of my blog!

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