Saturday, 23 December 2017


Good Afternoon to you,

My Christmas cards have been posted

'Posting a Letter'
by Albert Ludovici Jnr


all our Christmas gifts have been wrapped and placed under the tree.

My Christmas pudding has been made
my Christmas cake is waiting in the wings,
to take centre stage,
 on Christmas Day.

The Christmas mince pies 
are yet to be made,
but the sweet smell of baking 
will fill my kitchen,
 on Christmas Eve.

All the practical things have been done.

.... but there is one more, 
very important thing, left for me to do

.... and that is,
to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for taking the time to visit me here at Ivy, Phyllis and Me! 
 I am thrilled that each year you return again and again, to see what is happening in my kitchen or in my garden. Maybe you return to read one of the many stories I write about my day to day life. 
For whatever reason you return, truly, I am very grateful.

So all there is left for me to do
to wish you a merry Christmas 
and a Happy New Year.

Take care and I will catch up with you again in the 2018.

As Always.

Thursday, 7 December 2017


Good Morning to you,

Oranges and lemons
Say the bells of St Clement's
You owe me five farthings
Say the bells of St Martin's
When will you pay me
Say the bells of Old Bailey
When will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney
I do not know
Say the great bells of Bow

My day was going well. I had planned what I wanted to do.... and I was determined to stick to my plan, because as you know, I can be easily sidetracked.

I had thought it would be fun to make some dried orange slices to use as Christmas decorations. I did not want to string them together with cinnamon and pine cones, instead I wanted their delicate aroma to sit in bowls decorated with pine cones and a little pot pourri.

So I checked my fruit bowl and there sat 2 oranges some lemons and tangerines.... perfect for what I wanted to do.

I began by topping and tailing the 2 oranges and then I cut them into approximately 1/4" slices.

I switched the oven on, to its lowest setting and then

I spread the orange slices between the 2 shelves in my oven and waited for them to dry.  This took 2 hours 25 minutes.

A very simple task.... and as you can see, they turned out perfectly.

Whilst the orange slices were drying in the oven,

I set about scoring the peel of the tangerines and lemons into 8ths, taking care not to cut all the way through, just half way through, so when the peel dried, it separated and the inside of the orange could be seen.

I popped them into the oven, on the lowest temperature, to dehydrate.

So far so good.

I needed the fruit to be in the oven for 6 to 7 hours to enable the tangerines and lemons to dehydrate properly.  They had been in the oven for almost 6 hours and were looking good, when the phone rang.  Always a good thing, because I love a good chat.

.... and it was Natasha ringing to have a Skype chat.  Perfect.  I said I would be with her in 2 ticks.  I made myself a coffee as we always drink our coffee together when we have a Skype chat, Natasha in Chicago and me here in Newcastle. We talked about Christmas and Christmas gifts we were buying.

Now I don't know about you, but when I talk to my daughters, I never have a sense of timing.  I am always surprised to discover we can talk for up to 2 hours, without drawing breath, yes honestly. I only discover the length of our chat when Natasha tells me just before we say goodbye.  

So now you know Natasha rang, but let me take you back to the lemons and tangerines dehydrating in the oven.  They had been in the oven for almost 6 hours before I began chatting to Natasha, and a further 2 hours talking to Natasha, which meant the oranges and lemons had been in the oven for roughly 8 hours.

Can you see where this is leading?

What do you think?  too much time spent in the oven?

Well, let me show you the results.

What do you think now? Yes, you are absolutely right, they spent a tad too long in the oven.... they are a bit of a disaster aren't they.  I was so enjoying my chat with Natasha that I had quite forgotten about the dehydrating fruit.

Now I was not on my own in the house, George was downstairs, reading in the conservatory and when I asked him if he had noticed any burning smells, he said he had caught a whiff of what he thought was marmalade.... mmm it didn't smell like marmalade to me, because when I went into the kitchen, I could definitely smell a little bit of burning.

When I checked in the oven, I discovered that whilst dehydrating, 2 tangerines and 1 lemon had dropped between the shelves,  because as the fruit dehydrated they had become smaller.  They must have fallen with a bit of a thud, as their bottoms were all squashed.... certainly not the look I was going for.

Now I could have decided not to talk about dehydrating whole fruits in the oven, but as you know, I like to be honest and share not only my successes, but also my failures with you.... and it has to be said, on this occasion,  the drying of the whole fruits were a complete disaster.

They normally work well, but that is when I keep an eye on them. So what will I do next time.

.... what Natasha and Danielle are always telling me to do.

'Mum, use the alarm on your phone, to remind you when you need to check something.'

I think it's time I heeded their advice, don't you.

How about you, have you ever been caught out and forgotten the time, when talking with friends or family.

I am keeping my fingers crossed that I'm not the only one who does this.

But before I leave you, I have decided,  I am not going to leave you on a low,  oh no,

I am going to show you one of my cute Christmas cushions which are beginning to fill my home.... I feel sure, this cute little dachshund, will put a smile on your face.

.... and a further treat, enjoy 'The Bells of St Clements' played by the BBC Concert Orchestra. It is almost 5 minutes long, but well worth the time, so sit back and enjoy.

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

As Always,

Thursday, 30 November 2017


Good Morning to you,

I have been prevaricating.  That doesn't sound like me does it.  Well if you have been reading Ivy, Phyllis and Me! for a while, then you will know that it sounds exactly like me. I am one of the world's worst prevaricators.... I can easily convince myself, not to do something, that I really should do. 

.... and what have I been prevaricating about this time?

Instagram.... yes honestly, something as simple as Instagram.

Whilst half the world is already using Instagram, I have been waiting in the wings, wondering as to its merits. The idea to set up an Instagram account was floating around my brain, but to be honest with you, I ignored it, as I said, I  am a terrible prevaricator.

I hadn't reached a decision as to whether I should dive in headfirst, that is, until quite recently, when I was given an Instagram demonstration.

.... and do you know who gave me the demonstration.... my daughter Danielle.... both of my daughters are brilliant, as they are so patient with me.

It all came about when I visited Phyllis recently. Danielle drove over to see us all and to see how her Nan Phyllis was getting on.  Whilst we were together, Danielle showed me the photographs in her Instagram account, I was intrigued, so she explained the 'ins' and outs' and showed me what to do, just in case I stopped prevaricating and finally decided to open my own Instagram account.

Instagram seemed like a whole new language. For instance, what on earth were 'hashtags'? I had heard the word used so often, but to be honest with you, I never really understood their significance.

Anyway, the time came when I thought to myself, I really must stop this nonsense and just open an account.

So I did.

My first foray into Instagram was a photograph of some soup I had made.... with one hash tag, surely that was enough, I mean why on earth would you want more.

Apparently, as it turns out, one was not enough.

This time it was Natasha's turn to take me in hand and explain the significance of hash tags. So during one of our Skype chats, the world of hash tags was opened up to me. Natasha patiently explained, in great detail, how to make use of them. I emphasise the words, great detail, because I think, when she was explaining, she could see the glazed look which appeared in my eyes.... the significance of hash tags took a while to register in my brain.

So if you visit my Instagram account, you will see the hash tags are increasing and I have to tell you, the glaze over my eyes is lifting. This reminds me of the Marie Curie quote, 'Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood.' Now I understand Instagram there is no fear.

Now there is a reason I am telling you all this.  Another photograph I posted on Instagram, was a chicken cooked in my slow cooker. This is something which I have never written about, here on Ivy, Phyllis and Me!

.... and to my great delight I was asked by 2 new friends, Linda and Diane, how I cooked the chicken.  

So my friends, today, I am going to show you my method of

cooking a chicken using a slow cooker. 

But first, it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to, is a song, I first heard when I visited Atlanta a few years ago. On hearing it I loved it instantly,

the Zac Brown Band singing Chicken Fried.  Now I know I'm not frying chicken, but when you hear this song you will know why I am listening to it.... it's a song which makes you tap your feet.... and if you know a few line dancing steps.... I guarantee you will be dancing around your kitchen.... and the words, well, they will make you think about what you love the most.

Now it is time to organise my ingredients.


You will need: A large 3.5 litre slow cooker

1 (1.8kg) large chicken
1 large lemon
4 large cloves of garlic
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 tablespoon of sweet paprika
1 dessert spoon of dried oregano
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 bay leaves


Cut the lemon into quarters
set aside for the moment.

Peel 4 cloves of garlic
set aside for the moment.

Pour 1 tablespoon of olive oil into the base of the crock pot and using a pastry brush, coat the bottom of the crock pot with oil.

Insert the 

quartered lemons

prepared garlic cloves
into the cavity of the chicken.

Place the chicken into the crock pot and pour the second tablespoon of oil over the chicken.  Using a brush spread the oil evenly over the chicken.

Using a pastry brush, cover the surface of the chicken with paprika. If you find you need more paprika, then sprinkle more over the chicken.

Sprinkle with sea salt

black pepper

and finally sprinkle with the dried oregano


place the

bay leaves either side of the chicken.

Put the crock pot into the slow cooker, put the lid on and turn the switch to HIGH.

Cook for 6 hours. 

When cooked, you will have a,

tender, cooked chicken with lots of stock to make a gravy.

All there is left to do is,


Now I do know that slow cookers vary, because Natasha can cook a chicken in 4 hours using her slow cooker.  I think the American slow cookers cook food faster, if that makes sense. I have to say mine is an old slow cooker which I have used for years, so you might find you do not need to cook your chicken for 6 hours.

When it comes to checking if the chicken is thoroughly cooked.  The method I have always used, whether roasting or slow cooking, is to insert the point of a knife into the thickest part of the leg, if the juices run clear then the chicken is cooked. You may prefer to use a thermometer.... the choice is yours.

.... but I have to tell you, nowadays, this is the only method I use to cook a chicken, because I love my chicken moist and tender.

Just before I go, over the years I have used my slow cooker for cooking meat products, but I have recently discovered, there is a whole raft of other things which can be cooked using a slow cooker.  I was amazed to discover that mashed potato can be made using a slow cooker.... who would have thought it. So pop over to visit, Marilyn at Marilyns Treats and find out how.... plus you will discover how to make quite a few other treats.

Oh yes, I just know you will also want to visit Linda and Diane. You will find them here, Linda who writes My Sew What Blog and Diane who writes Southamsdarling 

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

As Always,

Monday, 27 November 2017


Good Morning to you,

Take one poorly Daphne

put her to bed.

Give her a couple of pain killers
to ease her poor head.

A drink
made with

a splash of lemon,

with tissues to help
so her nose will not redden.

a jug of water 
placed on her bedside table,

will help poor Daphne
as quick as she is able.

All of these kind things
will help in the fight,
to allow her body
to make itself right.

When she is well,
and there is no more concern,
she will thank you so much
her smile will return.

..... and my smile did return as these are all the kind things which George did for me when I was unwell last week. It's good to know we are always there for each other in time of need.

.... and did I thank him, oh yes, I thanked him,
again and again
and again.

I do love him.

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

As always,

Thursday, 16 November 2017


Good Morning to you,

Do you know something, I cannot believe that the time has arrived for 'Out and and About with my Shopping Basket'. The weeks seem to be flying by and before we know it we will be saying hello to the month of December and once again, Christmas will be with us.

Nothing heralds Christmas, like a visit to the town. All the shops are overflowing with everything associated with Christmas. Each shop visited has Christmas decorations hung, and its own style of Christmas music playing in the background. 

As you know I love Christmas time, but I do try hard not to get carried away with the season. I decide which gifts I want to buy each member of the family, I make a list, then George and I head to town to do our Christmas shopping. Hopefully, if we are successful, everything will be bought in one visit.

But before that day arrives, I thought I would  go in to town, because there was a little something I wanted to buy for myself, and to be truthful, I missed out on buying the 'little something' last year, because I left it too late.  You know what it is like at Christmas time, you have to buy before you need it, or  it will be sold out, which is so disappointing.

I'll give you a little hint of what I went in to town to buy. Something for my feet..... something which is so comfortable, that they fit like a glove.

Any thoughts? Have you guessed?  Take a look at this photograph and you will know exactly what I wanted to buy.

If you have been reading Ivy, Phyllis and Me! for a while, you will know that I am a great fan of 'Hotter' shoes.

Shall I open the box and let you take a peek inside? 

Oops, I couldn't wait to try them on. To be honest, they were unwrapped and out of the box and on my feet in moments.  

Do you know something, I am not a flamboyant person, but I do like a snazzy shoe and not only are these Hotter shoes snazzy, they are as comfy as you like.

The 2 1/4" heel is just perfect for me.  Oh and I forgot to tell you the name of the shoe. The shoe  is called Donna. They come in a variety of colours and this is my third pair.... I know extravagant, but it has been over a period of 3 or 4 years, so I feel the cost is justified.  Actually, I am sorting through the rest of my shoes, to donate them to charity, as I tend to only wear the Hotter brand now. I have a black pair of loafers which I wear all the time and a lace up pair of brogues which are perfect worn with jeans. I cannot recommend them highly enough.  If comfort is what your after, then take a look at 'hotter' on line and as an added bonus, at the moment, there is 25% off the normal price.  

I have to be honest and say, some of the styles are not for me, but, I adore the shoes which I already own.

.... oh and just a thought, you may have noticed that my leggings are a little ruched around the ankle, that is intentional, as I am wearing my Indian leggings. I thought I would mention it, just in case you thought I looked like Nora Batty from Last of the Summer Wine.

So what else was on my list,

As you can see my Hotter shoes were right at the top of the list. The next item I wanted to buy was a new mascara.

I really don't wear very much makeup, but there are two very important things which I always use, lipstick and mascara.... oh yes and a Benefits eyebrow brush.  Well that isn't a very good start is it, because that makes 3 items.... alright I had better come clean and tell you I also wear blusher and eye shadow when I go out.  I think that is all. I'll let you know if I remember anything else.

Anyway back to the mascara. I wanted a change from my usual mascara so I decided to visit Boots. The young assistant I spoke to was so helpful and she suggested that I try the Roller Lash, apparently it is so popular it has even out sold Chanel mascara.  The hook 'n' roll brush, promised to lift and curl my eye lashes.  I was a little sceptical at first, but I was told if I was not happy with the product, then I was welcome to return the mascara.

So the next day, out came the hook 'n' roll brush and it coated my eye lashes brilliantly.  I put the mascara down and double checked in the mirror.... think of this as a drum roll..... rat a tat tat.... yes, my eye lashes were curled.  

So I thought I would recommend this mascara to you. I love it when my friends recommend products as you know first hand what does and doesn't work.

My next visit was to Marks and Spencer.  I do love their bedding, cushions and candles.  So I popped in to see what they had on offer and discovered this brilliant Christmas cushion. It took me a moment to decide, and in that moment, I had decided, that  not 1 but 2 cushions would adorn my chairs at home.

.... and whilst in Marks and Spencer's I decided to look at the candles.  They were very easy to find, I just had to follow my nose, as the perfume would tell me where to go.

I discovered these little beauties.  The lids are so pretty and I love the Christmas fragrance. So I popped them into my shopping basket.... well after paying that is.

I was wanting some pot pourri, but not the one with small bits and bobs in it.  I wanted the pot pourri to be substantial,

with lots of pine cones and I found just what I wanted in Next.  I think the red painted nuts are pecan nuts and when I rattle them, I can hear the nut inside.

The tangerines take me back as I used to make my own dried tangerines for Christmas time.  They are so easy to do, I really must make a note and show you how easy it is.

Now the following items were not on my list, but they never tend to be, 

as I always stop to visit second hand book shops, as they are such good value for money. It is amazing how many books are donated by people in aid of charity. 

I was thrilled to find this gardening book written by Monty Don, as I love watching him present Gardeners World on a Friday evening.  It was the colourful Alliums which first attracted my attention and upon opening the book, I discovered, it was a fascinating account of Monty and his wife Sarah, buying a derelict house with a 2 acre field. Further down the first page Monty talks about 'Finding evidence of at least three buildings on the site, with Saxon remains, the footings of a medieval hall house and the existing building, which is, itself an amalgam of two separate timber framed Tudor houses'. The diary begins  on 1st January 1998 and ends on 31st December 2001.  I have a feeling I am going to thoroughly enjoy Monty's book.

.... and my second find was The Button Box by Lynn Knight, I just had to pick up this book,

not only for the content, but look at the inside of the book.  Isn't it beautiful. I'm sure your grandmother and mother were just like my grandmother Ivy and my mother Phyllis, they always had a button tin, which as a child I loved playing with. Even when I was older and had children of my own, I would often rummage through Phyllis' button tin.

When I discover a book I have not read before, I tend to read the first page,  to get a feel for the style of writing. When I read the first page of The Button Box

'I used to love the rattle and whoosh of my grandma's buttons as they scattered from their Quality Street tin.'

.... I was smitten. I cannot wait to read the rest of the book.

.... and my third and final book is one I thought I already owned, but had not been able to find.  A lot of our books are still in boxes stored in the loft, but I really don't remember packing it.  We sent a lot of our books to the Charity shop, so I am wondering if this book went with all the other donated books.  It would be funny if I had bought the original book I already owned.

I love old cookery books, because they give us an insight into how our mother's and grandmother's cooked and the ingredients which were available to them. I love the title, 'Tested Recipes in Plain Cookery' by Miss Mason.  'Add the Chef touch to all your dishes - cook by gas'!

I was browsing through the book and discovered a recipe for jam sauce, the recipe itself was simple, but on reading the Method, I reached the final sentence where it advised serving the jam sauce with Canary pudding, Cornflour Mould, or other farinaceous puddings.... what on earth is farinaceous?  I had no idea, because Canary pudding is a steamed pudding and a Cornflour mould, I take to mean blancmange.  I couldn't make the connection, so I had to look the word up.

Well I never, farinaceous means 'consisting of or containing starch'.... well that is certainly a new word for me. I wonder if Jamie or Nigella would ever use the word 'farinaceous'..... I very much doubt it, but on second thoughts,  Nigella might.

I was really pleased with all my purchases.  The red Hotter shoes have been worn, because George's niece recently became engaged, so I wore them to the engagement party.  I danced the night away, without the merest hint of sore feet.

The Christmas cushions have been put away until December, but I couldn't resist leaving out the candles and the pot pourri as they fill the house with an exquisite aroma.

I told you I love Christmas, so the merest hint of Christmas, is just fine.... for now.

Take care I will catch up with you next Thursday.

As Always,

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