Thursday, 17 August 2017


Good Morning to you,

There are periods in our lives when we meet people, and begin, what we think, will be a good friendship, only to discover, they are not the friends we thought they were. You know this in your heart to be true, but the hardest thing, is to admit it to yourself and to shed the said friendship. As we grow older, we realise, there is no place in our lives for these type of 'friends' because they do not make our heart sing.

.... but on the other side of the coin  there are people in our lives, who do make our heart sing and who make us feel we can do anything we want to..... fly to the moon, if that is our hearts desire.

.... and I am lucky to have friends and family who inspire confidence and who truly make me feel I could fly to the moon, if that is want I wanted.

Two of my biggest supporters are my daughters Natasha and Danielle, they make me believe I can do anything which I set my mind to.  I might not believe them at the time, but with their encouragement I usually surprise myself and manage to do whatever it is I set out to do.

For instance, Ivy, Phyllis and Me!

My biggest supporter and the one person who truly encouraged me to stop putting  pen to paper to write my recipes and to  begin writing Ivy, Phyllis and Me! was Natasha.  She gently guided me, even when I dug my heels in and made every excuse imaginable not to write this blog. The excuse which came up time after time was, 'I didn't have the time to write a blog, I was far too busy,' but still, living half-way around the world, Natasha persevered and would not listen to my lame excuses.  You see Natasha saw something which I didn't see, that I had a wealth of information tucked inside my brain, which was just waiting to be shared. She knew me so well, that she knew I would love writing, even if I didn't know this myself.  She instinctively knew that writing a blog would be the right platform for me. 

.... and so, with much 'kicking and screaming' Ivy, Phyllis and Me! was born.

Even though the original idea was to set down recipes for Natasha and Danielle, I did hope that someone else would visit, although I really didn't expect anyone would.

Well as it turns out, you did. I have many friends from this country and around the world who have returned to visit me week after week.  If you had told me on 'Day 1' of Ivy, Phyllis and Me! that friends would return again and again, I would not have believed you, but return you have and for that, I am so very grateful.

.... and so the world turns, because I have been given the most marvellous opportunity to help and support Natasha.  I want to support Natasha in the same way as she supported me.

.... and I feel with your kindness and help, it will set  her on the path to what she loves to do..... writing.  

Natasha is currently writing a book about that fabulous  80s TV Show, Dynasty and she is creating a series of YouTube clips, to highlight the book. Natasha has created these YouTube clips, by learning absolutely everything herself. She has spent hours upon hours learning about correct lighting, about camera work, about stop/go motion and so much more associated with making a good quality YouTube clip. To be absolutely honest with you I am in awe of what she has achieved.

So I have learnt, yes learnt..... amazing what you can do when you try..... to embed Natasha's latest Dynasty Teaser Trailer here on my blog. 

Wasn't the clip brilliant. If you enjoyed this YouTube clip, could I ask you to 'Like' and 'subscribe' as this will help Natasha get her YouTube clips noticed in the ratings.

I am just in awe of how she has done this Teaser Trailer, there was so much work involved. Were your feet tapping by the end of the YouTube clip..... I know mine were.

I have also added a link to Episode 1. You will hear Natasha talking about the episode. Click on this link to  Natasha's YouTube site and if you wait until the very end, you will hear both my daughter's laughing.... which in turn, I feel sure will make you laugh.  I know both George and I laugh every time we listen to a new video. 

So before I leave you, I want to say a heartfelt thank you for your support. Please know that with your help and encouragement, you will be helping Natasha to achieve her dreams.

I look forward to catching up with you next Thursday.

As Always

Saturday, 12 August 2017


Good Morning to you,

.... and where was I on Thursday?

Actually, I have to tell you, I was having lots of fun celebrating Gloria, my sister-in-law's, 60th birthday.

I say I, when I should really say, the whole family were celebrating Gloria's birthday.

When I visited Gloria on Thursday morning, she was surrounded by gifts and flowers and so many birthday cards, that it would have been impossible to count them all.... and if memory serves me well, I don't think she had one repeat card. The mantelpiece and window sills were covered in a mixture of small, medium and large sized birthday cards.... they looked so lovely.

.... and in front of the fire place floated two huge balloons, in the shape of 60.  The floating balloons were huge and when Gloria stood beside them, they towered over her.

After we hugged and I gave her our birthday gift and card, she showed me the many lovely gifts she had received from friends and family. We then decided to take a walk around her garden.  I was especially keen to see Gloria's new vegetable plot which had been planted in raised beds at the bottom of her garden.  She showed me the huge variety of vegetables she was growing and I was excited to see she had one of my favourites, beetroot pushing its way through the soil.  Gloria knows I love freshly roasted beetroot and promised to share some with me when they were ready to be harvested. I definitely had a twinkle in my eye when she offered me beetroot as even beetroot bought from the market does not compare with freshly harvested beetroot from the garden.

We then walked around her flower garden and I had a lovely time. Before I left to return home, Gloria gifted me with 3 lettuces, which were pulled from the soil that very morning.

We said our goodbyes and I said I was looking forward to celebrating her birthday later that day when the family were meeting up, at a fabulous Turkish restaurant, which we all love.

The restaurant was perfect because it was so family friendly.  Our family group ranged from 9 years to 90 years and every age in between. There was something delicious for everyone.  I have to tell you the starter of filo pastry with soft cheese and spinach was fabulous.

By the end of the meal I was so full, that I thought I would not be able to eat anything the following day. I'll tell you how full I was, I refused dessert.  Yes honestly, now you know about me and my sweet tooth, I love desserts, but even I could not face another mouthful.

Now notice I wrote 'I thought I would not be able to eat anything the following day'. Well I was wrong, because I woke up the following morning and I was so hungry. I don't know about you, but I find if I eat a meal late in the evening, for some reason, the following day, I feel ravenous.  Which seems silly, because you would think that as I was full to the brim the previous evening, my tummy would be saying 'please no more food'.

So I decided I would not indulge this supposed hunger, no, I would be sensible and make some soup. Actually, it turned out to be a good idea, because as it was the end of the week,  I needed to check my fridge to see what 'bits and pieces' were left and what I needed to use up.

I often make soup with left overs, as it is a great way to use up food.

.... and my leftovers turned into,

should I call it carrot soup, or should I call it carrot, tomato and rice soup? I don't think so as this soup was made up of food I had to hand, some fresh and some which I had frozen as left overs, I decided, 'Soup ~ From What You Have To Hand' would be a good title.... after all that is what the soup is made up of.

Now the problem with sharing this soup is that technically, nothing is weighed, as I have used leftovers.  So I have given you a rough guide to the amounts I used.


6 tomatoes (mine were frozen)
1 large mugful of frozen rice
3 medium sized carrots
1/2 onion
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 litre of chicken stock
sea salt to taste


Boil a kettle of water.
Place the frozen tomatoes into a Pyrex jug or bowl
pour over the boiling water.
(You will see my jug wasn't large enough for 6 tomatoes, so I removed the skins of 4 and then the other 2)

After a few minutes you will see the skins begin to release themselves from the tomato flesh.

Using a slotted spoon, remove a tomato from the water and peel away the tomato skin. Yes it really is that easy.  The tomato will remain frozen, but it will thaw during the cooking process.

Continue until all the tomato skins have been removed.

Peel and chop the carrots.
Peel and chop the onion.

Place 1 tablespoon of olive oil into a medium sized
pan and add the chopped onion.
Cook until translucent.

Add the chopped carrots,

the frozen rice,
and the tomatoes.

Pour the chicken stock into the pan.  
Bring to the boil and simmer for 30 minutes.

When cooked, allow the soup to stand for 10 minutes.

Using a hand held blender, blitz the soup
until it is smooth.

Taste for seasoning and add salt.

Then all there is left to do,

is pour the soup into a dish

In case you are wondering why I used only half an onion. Well, that is what I had left after making a quiche and I needed to use it up.

The rice was frozen as it was not eaten after I made a chilli at the weekend.  What I would say is, if you are nervous about reheating frozen rice, then add half a large mug of uncooked rice as it will cook whilst the soup is simmering. When blitzed, the starch from the rice helps to thicken the soup.

The frozen tomatoes were some which I knew we wouldn't be using, so I just popped them whole, into a freezer bag and placed them into the freezer, for such a time, when I would use them.

If you find your soup has not thickened enough, just return the pan to the heat and simmer gently, without the lid, until you have the consistency you enjoy.

With a little thought, nothing should be wasted.  I know it isn't always easy, but I see food in my fridge and freezer as money.  It has been spent.... and I would never throw money away.

.... and as Ivy and Phyllis would say, 'Waste not Want not'.

Oh before I leave you, I know some of my friends are experiencing a heatwave, especially in Greece, Cyprus, Italy and Spain and soup would be the last thing on your mind.... but here in Newcastle, it is unseasonally cold, so actually for us, soup is the perfect lunch.

Take care and I will see you next week.

As Always,

Thursday, 3 August 2017


Good Morning to you,

When it comes to gardening, I have a clear idea of the style of garden I want to create. This comes from creating many different gardens in the many different homes we have lived in.  Not for me the formal style of garden. Not at all, give me curved, undulating borders, which are overflowing with flowers.  I love flowers which self seed and pop up in the most unexpected places.  It can make for a very interesting border. 

.... but the one thing I really have to think about, before any planting begins, is where to place my whirligig.

I could not live without my whirligig, because I love to see my washing blowing in the wind. When I unpeg the dry washing and take it indoors, I just love the fresh, outdoor smell.

.... and there is definitely a difference when it comes to drying sheets in a tumble dryer versus sheets which have been dried on a washing line. To my mind, no amount of 'perfumed smellies' can recreate that fresh, outdoor smell.

Sadie, my mother in law, used to watch the weather closely, before deciding whether or not to hang out her washing to dry and Phyllis, my mother, is exactly the same. A short break in the overcast weather was enough to have both Sadie and Phyllis dashing outdoors to allow their washing to blow in the wind, even if it was for half an hour.  Of course on days when rain threatened, they had to be vigilant and probably spent most of the time keeping an eye out for the rain.  But each felt it was worthwhile to allow their washing to blow in the wind, even for a short amount of time.

Both Phyllis and Sadie have a washing line which runs almost the length of their garden.  Phyllis' washing line is on a pulley system, so that when the washing is pegged, she uses the pulley system to hoist the washing line high in the air, to allow the washing to blow in the wind.

Sadie, is slightly different, because although the washing line is the same, Sadie uses a clothes prop. When all the washing has been pegged out, the clothes prop is placed in the centre of the washing line, so that the line can be pushed upwards, again, to allow the washing to blow in the wind.

Both Phyllis and Sadie, would never entertain a whirligig.  For them, a whirligig is on the same level as a tumble dryer..... to be avoided at all costs.  But I like whirligigs, because when the washing has dried, the whirligig can be closed and stored in the garage, hidden from view, until the next time it is needed.

So where abouts in our new garden, should my whirligig live.

I have a little system which I employ when deciding where to place it in any new garden. I watch for a few days to see how the sun plays out in the garden and to see which direction the wind mostly blows. Then only when I am satisfied that I have found the perfect place, will George begin digging a hole big enough for the heavy concrete base.  

Now I think you can see, just at the bottom of the picture the base I am talking about.... I have to tell you it is really heavy.

.... and are you wondering why it is half in the ground with the other half above the surface.

Well..... apparently, I am told, it's just in case I change my mind about the placement of the whirligig. Those are George's words, not mine.

The first time George did this, I thought he had only dug half the hole, but he said no, it's because experience has taught him, that I am just as likely to ask him to dig another hole, in a different position. He says it's because when I begin to plant the borders, I am inclined to plant large plants like foxgloves too close to the whirligig..... so much for my well thought out system. Although, I have no memory of doing this, maybe I have a selective memory, who knows.

I will let you know if the washing line stays in place or if it finds a new home. Actually, as the garden evolves, you will probably notice yourself if there is any change.

Oh just one thing before I leave you.

It occurred to me, that last week, I told you about our new neighbour, who bought us a beautiful Chrysanthemum plant, as a gift to welcome us to the neighbourhood, but I forgot to show you a photograph.

Isn't it a beauty.  I have enjoyed it indoors for a few weeks, but I then remembered that Chrysanthemums love to be outdoors, so I have placed it just outside the conservatory, where it will catch some sun and also the rain.

.... and we were gifted with not just 1 plant, but 2.

My lovely friends from my sewing group, presented me with this gorgeous Dahlia.... it is really stunning.

Like I said to you last week, I feel really lucky to have such lovely friends.

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

As Always,

Thursday, 27 July 2017


Good Morning to you,

All 80 boxes, yes honestly, I can hardly believe it myself, 80 boxes, have been unpacked and the contents put away. Although there are some books, no, I have to be very honest with you, and tell you, lots of books, have been stored in the loft until I can get around to culling some more.  I did have a good sort out before we moved, but, it seems, that as we have downsized, the initial sort out was not enough, so the sort out must continue, but that can be done at a later date.

Meanwhile the furniture has been placed in the appropriate rooms and even the cushions have been plumped and placed on the sofas.

.... and we are feeling quite settled in our new home. I genuinely feel so happy and content. I really feel, I am where I am supposed to be.

Although I have to tell you, as settled as I am, I feel sure that much of the furniture and many ornaments will be moved, once, maybe twice, but knowing me, three or four more times, before they find their rightful place in our new home.

As settled as we are in the  house,  we do have a bit of a challenge ahead of us.  We have not inherited neatly tended lawns and beautiful borders, such as the gardens we left behind.

This is what we face.  I admit, perhaps not quite a jungle, but I would say, not far from it. You would not believe the things we discovered hidden behind the bushes.

The bushes had been allowed to overgrow without any pruning. We discovered the honeysuckle is intermingled with weeds, which in turn are intermingled with nettles and grasses.

Whilst the Buddleia has been allowed to grow to at least 20 feet high and the same wide. Far too big for the size of our garden.

At the back of the garden there is a cute gazebo, which will be staying but does require a lot of attention.  My idea is to plant roses and clematis and to allow them to scramble up the gazebo. This corner is a lovely place to sit and read as it catches the evening sun.

There is so much work to do and if we were 10 or even 5 years younger, we would have immersed ourselves into the garden to clear all the bushes and weeds away, but we realised after decorating the whole house, we really did not have the energy to clear the garden as well. It took us quite a while to reach the decision, as both of us said in words, that we wanted to crack on and get the job finished, but in truth we didn't. When we both finally had the courage to admit how we felt, we were relieved that each of us felt the same. Now we had the task of finding someone who could make a silk purse out of our sow's ear.

.... and between you and me and the gatepost, I had a secret weapon up my sleeve.

A brilliant young man called Gary, from Ace of Spades, who is based in Cramlington. He certainly was our Ace of Spades.

I came to know about Gary, one sunny, summer day last year and who knew that a year later I would need his expertise.

I was enjoying the sunshine and weeding the borders in our front garden, when I heard an electric hedge cutter.  It wasn't the noise of the hedge cutter which attracted my attention, but the wonderful laughter of the man using it. He would cut part of the hedge, then sweep away the cuttings, at which point, the owner of the house would take the opportunity to talk to him. The air would then be filled with Gary's wonderful laughter.   So when the decision was reached that we needed help, I thought this is just the man I would love to help us clear our garden.  I tracked Gary down via our old neighbour and we arranged for him to come along to look at the garden.  I was a little worried that he might feel a little phased by the amount of work which needed doing, but no, he gave us a quote and we were excited for the day to arrive, when the garden would be cleared and we could begin planning our new garden.

The first date came and went, because we had torrential rain, as did the second date. In the meantime, the garden was enjoying the rainfall and continued to grow.  After about 4 changes of date, the rain stopped and the day finally arrived when Gary felt he would be able to start work. 

As it happened it was on the first Tuesday I returned to my sewing group.

So when I left the house, the garden looked like this,

and when I returned at 1 o'clock some 3 hours later, the garden looked like this.

I could not believe how much work had been achieved.  George said he had sat and watched the lads from the conservatory and was itching to help.... as is his way.  He did offer his help, but they would not let him. They told him he was to sit down and enjoy his cup of tea.

Both the lads were absolutely amazing.  When they had finished, they took away all the garden waste to be composted. I really could not have been more pleased with what they had achieved.

Before Gary left us, I asked him a couple of questions.

Firstly did he always work so quickly? 

He said he did, but on this occasion he was spurred on, because we were forecast rain at 3.00 pm and he really wanted to complete the job, because the weather had hampered him for so long.

The second question was, did he realise he laughed a lot whilst he worked and how infectious his laugh was?  

He said he knew he laughed a lot, but he didn't realise the effect it had on people. He also said what was the point in being miserable, as he preferred to be happy.

Gary could have arrived and been disgruntled about the amount of work that was waiting for him, but he wasn't, he made the job of clearing the garden seem like a very simple, pleasurable job, when in truth it was a lot of hard work.

Gary and his friend were lovely and I would highly recommend them to anyone who needs help with their garden. 

.... oh and when the bushes were cleared, look what we discovered peeking through our neighbours fence,

these beautiful raspberries.  Our new neighbour is so lovely. When we moved in to the house,  he popped around to introduce himself and to give us a lovely potted Chrysanthemum as a welcome gift,  at the same time he  told us to help ourselves to any raspberries which appeared on our side of the fence and that later in the year we would discover blackberries fruiting.

.... how lucky are we to have met such lovely people.

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

As Always

Thursday, 1 June 2017


Good Morning to you,

Do I have some exciting news for you.

George and I are moving house.... yes and we are beyond ourselves with excitement.

I didn't mention anything before, because house buying here in England, can be a little precarious and I didn't want to jinx the process, but I am pleased to tell you, all has ran smoothly and we collect the keys to our new house tomorrow afternoon, so as you can imagine, life here has been very hectic.

We are staying in Newcastle, because it is a place we both love. The house we are moving to is smaller, which suits us just fine, because it will drastically reduce our utility costs.  The heating bill during the winter months will be greatly reduced.

.... but, the garden is much larger.  Not huge, but just big enough for George and I to handle.  The previous owners were not gardeners, so there is a lot to do, but that again, makes us so excited, because we can plan exactly what we want from the garden, rather than inheriting someone elses design.

So, I think it is time to give you a peek into what our lives look like at the moment..... are you ready? Brace yourself.

I know it looks like organised chaos.  I am closing my eyes to the fact that George has turned my beautiful leather trunk on it's side.  At times like these I have to appreciate that George and I have very different working methods. Although, I have to say, that little bit of blue tack, holding the frame to the mirror, is a pretty good idea.

As you can see, our house is full of boxes,

and more boxes.

Although I'm not sure what the canopy from the swinging chair is doing in my living room.  I think George found a space and decided that is where it would live until the furniture removers arrive.... I have a funny feeling that I will not be able to help myself.  I'll put money on it that I will move the canopy to the garage when George's back is turned.

My sewing is the one thing which is really organised as I wanted to be sure, I could lay my hands on my sewing, for those moments when I have 5 minutes to spare.... although I don't think there will be many spare moments for quite a while. 

So it's goodbye to our garden.

which we have loved 


nurtured for so long.

But it isn't all sadness, because we are taking with us some of the plants which we divided earlier in the year,

to come and live with us in our new garden.

Oh and do you remember the mint I planted for our mint tea, well look how it's grown. We will be taking this with us as well, because once planted in it's new terracotta pot, I will be able to make mint tea once again.

So that is my news.  I have to say I will probably be busy for the next month or so, because there is a lot of decorating to be done in the new house.

I have decided later in the year, I am going to share with you, how our new garden evolves from a bit of a field into a lovely country garden.

I will try and visit you when I can, and I promise I will catch up with the comments you have so kindly left me. They have been read, but not answered, which I know is very bad manners, but I feel sure you will understand, because you know how stressful moving can be.

.... but it is also very exciting.

Take care and I will catch up with you very soon.

As Always,

Thursday, 18 May 2017


Good Morning to you,

I was reading in the Good Housekeeping magazine, that this week is British Sandwich Week.  By all accounts this is an annual event and it is a week long celebration of the British Sandwich.

To tell you the truth, in previous years, this event has passed me by and I'm not sure why.  So this year I've made a note on my calendar, to remind me about British Sandwich Week next year. 

I then thought it would be fun to ask my family about their favourite sandwich combinations.

Danielle's is definitely George's bacon, cheese and brown sauce sandwich.... to be honest, I had never heard of bacon and cheese until Danielle mentioned it to George. Danielle's perfect bacon sandwich has to have 3 thick slices of bacon, which incidentally, has to be bought from the local butcher, no other bacon will do, and the bacon has to be placed inside two medium slices of buttered bread.

Now, I know Natasha also loves George's bacon sandwich, but she is a purist.  She enjoys only bacon inside two slices of buttered bread.

So I asked what Stephen's favourite sandwich was.... and it seems Natasha has a double favourite.  When in England, she loves her dad's bacon sandwich, but the one sandwich, both Stephen and Natasha dreamt of, when they lived in India, was,

a sandwich made of sliced granary bread, good quality ham, mature Cheddar cheese, iceberg lettuce, mayonnaise and grainy mustard.... oh but I'm not sure if the bread was buttered.

It's interesting the things our taste buds miss when we live in another country.  I remember when we had a family holiday in Goa, I loved all the spicy Goan food, but towards the end of the holiday, my taste buds wanted something plain.... in actual fact they were screaming out for something plain to eat and you'll never guess what I asked for one evening.... french fries, yes honestly, french fries.... nothing else and once eaten my taste buds were satisfied. So I do understand Natasha and Stephen's craving for this sandwich, because during their stay in India, these ingredients were unavailable to them.

So in honour of British Sandwich Week, I thought I would share with you Natasha and Stephen's favourite sandwich.

There are no amounts, instead, I have added photographs so you can see the ingredients I have used.


Start by slicing your loaf of bread

I used 2 slices for George.

Spread each slice of bread with butter, then
spread the grainy mustard.

If I was making this sandwich for Phyllis, I would have made sure that the butter and mustard reached the edges of the bread.... as this is the way she likes her sandwiches. She cannot abide dry bread.


slather with as much or as little mayonnaise as you like. Maybe you prefer less slathering. 

Add 2 square slices of mature Cheddar Cheese.

2 slices of ham

Slice the iceberg lettuce into strips
add salt if required
and place on top of the ham.

Place the 2nd slice of bread, which has been spread with grainy mustard and mayonnaise

on top of the lettuce. I find the mayonnaise helps to keep the lettuce in the sandwich. Although once
bitten into, the lettuce does escape.

Cut the sandwich in half.... and I have to tell you that you will need a serviette for this sandwich, because as you can see, it is a very full sandwich.

I wonder if this sandwich will pass muster with Stephen, as I know, he makes a very good sandwich.

I know it did with George, so I am wondering if this sandwich will replace his previous favourite, 'A George Size Sandwich', which I have added to my featured post this week.

I did ask him, but he was very non-committal because he was enjoying Stephen's sandwich.  He just smiled.... I think he was wondering what other sandwich fillings might be coming his way.

Personally, I am very boring, as my favourite sandwich is a toasted Cheddar cheese sandwich. Not very exciting, but lovely all the same. Oh but I do love a little mango chutney served with my toasted sandwich.

I was reading about the origin of the sandwich and it seems John Montague the 4th Earl of Sandwich asked for cold beef to be placed between slices of toast, as he did not want to leave the card table and interrupt his card game.

Isn't it strange how these things happen. I feel sure the Earl of Sandwich would be amazed to know that his slices of toast and beef became known as a sandwich.... and all because he didn't want to leave the card table.... amazing.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday.

As Always,

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