Thursday, 31 December 2015


Good Morning to you,

A few more hours and we will be saying goodbye to the year 2015.... but where did the year go?  

My friends are saying the same thing. They also feel that this year has flown by so quickly and can't believe the year is almost over.

I know Phyllis always says 'the older you get, the more time flies', and if I'm being honest, I think that is a bit of an old wives tale. I think one of the reasons the year appears to fly by so quickly, is, we seem to have lost the ability to live in the moment.

We seem to have forgotten how to savour each moment. 

I really don't feel we are totally to blame, because life seems to be so fast moving nowadays. 

For instance, no sooner has one celebration finished then advertisers are racing us towards the next event. I don't want to know about the next event. Do you know, on Christmas Eve, a holiday company were advertising summer holidays, encouraging us to book our summer break.

.... why on earth would I do that? I hadn't celebrated Christmas at that point. At that moment in time, I was thinking about Christmas turkey, roast potatoes, brussel sprouts (yes we love them, steamed and just the way they are, without any additional bits and pieces) and all the trimmings. So why on earth would I be thinking about a summer holiday.

Then I received a raft of emails telling me not to miss the Boxing Day sales.... I was informed that some items would be reduced by 60%. Honestly, I received so many emails that I did not even read them, I just deleted them.

Why on earth would I go shopping for more 'stuff', which I certainly don't need, just because I was made to feel it would be a bargain. To my mind, it is only a bargain if I need the item, otherwise I feel I am just wasting my money.

Why can't we be allowed, to just enjoy, the moment, why are we constantly bombarded with the newest 'this and that' which will supposedly enrich our lives, because in actual fact it doesn't. The buying of things does not enrich my life.  It's the day to day things which do that.  

For instance, I have not picked up my crochet hook for what must be, about 20 years or so, but the other day a friend gave me some balls of wool, so I thought I would give it a go. I thought I would need to really practise my crochet technique, but do you know, I didn't need to, because it was like riding a bicycle, I hadn't forgotten. Once I started I couldn't put the crochet hook down, I really enjoyed the moment. 

The same thing happened on Christmas Eve.  I finished my baking and then we visited Sadie, George's mother, who is a little poorly at the moment.  We returned home, switched on the Christmas lights, lit candles, warmed some mulled wine and just sat in our armchairs. We didn't speak, we just enjoyed the moment.

.... and those are the moments I remember. Those are the moments which stay with me.

So it feels like a good moment to look at some of the recipes we cooked during the year.  I love doing this, because it reminds me of how many recipes I have shared with you.

For instance, in January,

I shared with you my Christmas gift of a Spiralizer and we made this Sweet Potato Spaghetti and it continues to be a favourite.

.... and then in February, we made something a little spicier.

My Chicken Curry and I have to tell you, after all the rich Christmas food, this curry will be making an appearance on my table in the coming week.

.... and then in March,

Now, I make poached eggs all the time, but this poached egg would not behave.  I thought to myself, I could make another one and present a perfect poached egg, but do you know I didn't, because mistakes happen when we are cooking, so it was only fair that I show you mine. I don't want you thinking my cooking turns out perfectly all the time, because it doesn't.... but even with this mishap, it was delicious.

Then before we knew it, April had arrived and it was time for Easter baking,

and we made this Easter Simnel Cake. I love marzipan and I love this Simnel Cake.

May arrived, and with it I was pleased to re-discover, a silver cruet set, tucked in the back of one of my cupboards, which I had completely forgotten about.

Although the weather wasn't as warm as it should have been, we still enjoyed a lovely,

Quinoa Salad.  I'll tell you a funny thing.  The word quinoa, as you probably know, is pronounced keenwa, but I pronounce it differently in my mind.... this is so I don't forget how to spell the word, I pronounce it Kwin-oa.  I thought I would mention it, because one day, when I am not concentrating, I might write the word kwin-oa and if I do, you won't be wondering what the word is, you'll just think, 'oh yes, Daphne has just had a moment'.

Then before we knew it June had arrived.  I did not write to you in June, because we were away on holiday in India, where we spent a wonderful month with Natasha and her husband.  It was a lovely trip. We were so lucky to spend the most wonderful morning visiting The Taj Mahal.

.... but first,

we had to 'do battle' with  the busy streets of New Delhi,

and negotiate the different forms of transport.

.... but it was all worth it, 

because at the end of our journey.... this is what was waiting for us.... the magnificent Taj Mahal. 

We returned home, feeling full of beans. While visiting India, we had enjoyed so many fresh, exotic, fruits and vegetables, that we wanted to maintain the theme when we returned home, so we enjoyed

this Watermelon, Feta Cheese and Red Onion Salad. Alright, I will agree, watermelon is not exactly exotic, but it is nice and we made a salad, which I used to make in Cyprus, where huge and delicious watermelons are grown.

In September, I was so excited, because I discovered some Denby's Arabesque cups and saucers in a charity shop, for a snip of a price.  I was so excited to share this news with you.

Once I got over my excitement, we went on to bake one of Ivy's Tea Breads.

October arrived, as did our 45th wedding anniversary. We spent a lovely week with Danielle, when we did a little more than our fair share of chatting and pootling about. I had so much fun learning how to smile for the camera, Danielle and I could not stop laughing.

The nights began drawing-in very quickly and so we made the spicy, but easy,

Lentil Soup. Actually this is the soup we are having for lunch today.

October left us, and November appeared.

The perfect time to fill the kitchen with the aroma of an absolutely perfect apple pie, which I have to tell you did not stay around for very long.

Then before we knew it,

December was with us and we baked Christmas Mince Pies with a Frangipane topping.  I told you I love marzipan, didn't I.

I also shared with you the exciting news that I had been asked to be part of a cookery programme.... which was so exciting.  Although it fell through at the last hurdle, I remain very proud of myself.  When I look back at the recipes and the stories I have shared with you, it makes me smile, because these were not just any old stories or recipes, these were recipes which I made for George throughout the year and the stories were snippets from our daily lives.

Do you know it is lovely looking back.... and do you know something else, thinking about it, perhaps the year didn't fly by, quite so quickly, as I thought.

.... and if you decide to make a New Year's Resolution, let it be, that we do not allow 2016 to pass us by too quickly. Let us stop and savour a few more 'moments' throughout the year.

Have a wonderful New Year and I wish you all the love and happiness for 2016.

Thursday, 24 December 2015


Good Morning to you,

This morning, I was busy cooking, but there was no music playing, so I decided to turn on the radio to listen to BBC Newcastle.  I'm so glad I did, because Alfie and Charlie were speaking to a very special person, Father Christmas. Children were invited to speak to Father Christmas, before he started his long journey tonight. I have to tell you, the conversations with the children were wonderful to listen to.  

So I started thinking about our daughters and the special rituals we enjoyed on Christmas Eve. One I vividly remember, was when the girls were ready for bed, the one thing, which helped them to settle, was the reading of a Christmas story and the one they loved the best, was the poem, 'Twas the Night before Christmas' by Clement Clarke Moore

So I thought it would be lovely to share with you this lovely Christmas poem.


Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care.
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And Mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter's nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer.

With  a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled and shouted and called them by name!

"Now Dasher, now Dancer, now Prancer and Vixen! On, Comet! On, Cupid! 
on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch, to the top of the wall,
Now dash away, dash away, dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.

His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
and the beard of his chin was as white as the snow.

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly.
That shook when he laughed, like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye, and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whilstle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, 'ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"

Happy Christmas to you,

I look forward to catching up with you
 in the New Year.

Thursday, 17 December 2015


Good Morning to you,

Do you remember when  I wrote Is age a barrier when it comes to fulfilling your dreams? at the beginning of October.

Well, I have news. It is time for me to tell you what all the excitement was about. I'm just sorry I couldn't tell you before, but the time was not right.

Now firstly, if  you  have been  reading  my blog for a little while,  you  will know why I  started writing Ivy, Phyllis and Me!  but if  you  are a  new reader, I  will explain what motivated me to begin writing my blog. 

You see, I wanted a place to save all our family recipes, so that our girls could dip in and out of them as and when they wanted and so Ivy, Phyllis and Me! was born. In truth, I needed a lot of encouragement from our daughter Natasha, because without her I don't think I would have started Ivy, Phyllis and Me! I prevaricated for quite a long time and even on the day I wrote my first post, I dilly dallied. I was so nervous, but I shouldn't have been, because once I started, I really enjoyed the experience.

I really enjoy sharing my family recipes with you, but over time Ivy, Phyllis and Me! grew to become more than our family recipes. I began sharing recipes with you, which I cooked during the week and Ivy, Phyllis and Me!  evolved even further, as I began sharing snippets from our daily life. 

I pootled along, writing Ivy, Phyllis and Me! knowing that my lovely friends were reading my blog and I love the fact, that you take the time to leave me lovely comments.... but I never imagined, for one moment, that my blog would catch the eye of a production company.... but catch their eye it did.

The amazing day happened when we were visiting Danielle. I received an email from a lovely lady called Sophie. Sophie is a researcher for a well known production company and in her email she asked me to contact her. I read the email and of course, the first thing I thought was,  someone was 'pulling my leg'.   I then received another email from the Assistant Producer, Jonathan, who also wanted to speak to me.  Well, if you could have seen me.... I had a smile on my face, which went from ear to ear, honestly, I was smiling like a Cheshire cat, thinking, oh my word, this must be real. 

Danielle saw my smile and asked why I was smiling. I told her about the emails. She read them, then looked at me and we both screamed, not an hysterical scream, but an excited scream, which brought George into the kitchen to find out what was going on. I told George about the emails, while Danielle and I were dancing around the kitchen, with me saying, 'I can't believe it, I really can't believe it'. 

... but I really needed to compose myself, which I have to say, took quite a long time.  Danielle in the meantime, researched the production company for me and what did she discover....well you'll never believe it, on the board of Senior Management was the one and only Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.... well you could have knocked me down with a feather. 

So what to do first, well of course, I should have contacted the production company, but I was in such a state of excitement, that Danielle said, 'Right, we need to skype Natasha, right now and share the news... this is too important'. While we were talking to Natasha, halfway through the conversation, Danielle had to leave the room, because we were all excitedly talking to each other, and no one could hear what was being said....yes, that is how great the excitement was. Everyone was thrilled for me and no one was surprised, that this had happened.... well apart from me.  My family are so lovely, as they always believed that I would do well with my blog. Both Natasha and Danielle said 'Mum it's true, we told you, you are amazing'... sorry, I am blowing my own trumpet just a little.... and I have to tell you, that is so uncharacteristic of me. 

I calmed myself and I text Sophie who said that Jonathan wanted to speak to me.  We fixed a date and time and when we spoke, Jonathan said he loved my blog. We then talked about the programme he wanted me to be a part of.

Texts then went backwards and forwards, plans were made, dates were made, then changed. Cakes and pies were baked and then changed.... but I really didn't mind, because this was all so exciting.... I mean me, appearing on the television, yes me. What a wonderful, unexpected opportunity and something I could not imagine happening to me in a hundred years. I thought the pinnacle of my success was the fact that I had been interviewed for The Woman's Weekly magazine.... which I was thrilled about.

Everything was moving along splendidly and according to plan, when something very unexpected happened. I received the news that the programmes edit had been brought forward and that scuppered our filming date.

I have to be honest, I had gone from the highest of highs, to the lowest of lows.... well not quite, as that is a bit of an exaggeration.... but I have to say, I was disappointed. The experience had been such an emotional roller coaster, but I have to tell you, I would not have changed the experience for the world, because what it made me realise, is, you just don't know who is reading your blog.  The words are typed, the pictures are taken and they are sent out into the big wide world, for people to read and hopefully enjoy, and I for one, never imagined Ivy, Phyllis and Me! would catch the eye of a production company.... but do you know what, it did and I feel so very proud of that fact and I also feel very proud of myself.

I am smiling as I write to you, because I know the opportunity will arise again, if not with this production company, then with another.

So, who knows what will be around the corner for me.... I for one, cannot wait to find out.

With a smile firmly fixed on my face, I think it is time for me to share what we are making today.

Another version of Christmas mince pies, but this time with frangipane.  I love almonds and the mix of mince meat and frangipane makes a lovely mince pie.  What you will discover is that because the mince pies are topped with frangipane, you need much less mincemeat in the pies, so the mince pies are not so sweet.

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

The beautiful Christmas carol Stille Nacht sung by The King's Singers  (Silent Night).

There are so many different genres of music which I enjoy.  There is music  which makes me happy. There is music which makes me sad... but there  are hymns and carols, which open the door to my heart, and allows a rush of warmth to flow through... and this is one such carol.... please enjoy.

I have not added another piece of music, because I love this so much and so I am listening to it again. No singing this time, just listening while I gather my ingredients.



340g plain flour
85g unsalted butter
85g Trex 
pinch of salt
1-2 tablespoons cold water

To make the pastry we are using the same method as we did for the apple pie. The only thing we will not be adding, is the sugar.


100g unsalted butter
100g sugar
2 eggs
75g self raising flour
75g ground almonds
1 teaspoon of almond extract
1 egg for brushing the pastry


1 450g jar of sweet mincemeat

Pre-heat the oven to 180C or 160C fan


Butter your baking tin.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and cut a third of the pastry.  Put the third back into the fridge to use for the pastry lids.  Roll out the two thirds.
Cut out the pastry cases with a pastry cutter.
The size depends on the size of your baking tins.
Place in the fridge to keep cold.

Next make the pastry tops

I discovered these lovely cutters in a shop called Lakeland... I must admit I love visiting this shop. The cutters remind me of snowflakes, but you can use your normal pastry cutters to cut out the lids.

Remove the third of pastry from the fridge and roll
it out. Cut out the pastry tops. Place them on a baking sheet and pop them into the fridge to keep cold, while you make the frangipane.


Cube the butter
place into a mixing bowl.

Add the sugar
whisk until light and fluffy.

Sieve the flour
Set aside for the moment.

Whisk the eggs together

almond extract and mix together.
Add a tablespoon of egg into the bowl with the beaten butter and sugar and whisk together.
Repeat until the egg is incorporated.
If you find the mixture starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of flour to the mixture.

When all the eggs have been added, 
fold in the 

sifted flour

the almonds.


Place a dessert spoonful of mince meat
into the pastry cases.
If your pastry tins are shallow, you will need to
use less.

a heaped teaspoon
of frangipane.
Do not be tempted to add more, 
otherwise the frangipane will over flow.

Remove the pastry lids from the
fridge and place on top of the frangipane.
Press down lightly.

Brush with beaten egg.

Bake in the pre-heated oven
for 25 minutes or until golden.  
Use a cake skewer to make sure the frangipane 
has baked thoroughly.

Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then remove the mince pies from the baking tin
 and place on a cooling tray.

and if the fancy takes you.
Place one mince pie in a dish, 
cut it in half
drizzle with brandy cream
enjoy..... as we did.... well I had to make sure they tasted nice, didn't I.

You will find that the mince pie is not as sweet, because there is not as much mincemeat added as in normal mince pies.  Some years I make normal mince pies and other years I ring the changes and make frangipane mince pies, as they make a nice change.

As always, I did have some pastry and mincemeat left over.  Sometimes I freeze the pastry and mincemeat, but sometimes I make a turnover as I did here.

I love the Lakeland pastry cutters which I bought and I love the effect they gave to the mince pies and if I like something, I will always tell you.... and if I don't, well I will never mention it.

What I would say is, if you decide to buy them, I found I needed to use my cake prodder to gently ease the pastry from the snowflake cutters, as they did not release by themselves. I didn't mind doing this as the overall effect was lovely.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday, on Christmas Eve.

This week I will be joining,


Thursday, 10 December 2015


Good Morning to you,

'You might just as well say' 
added the dormouse,
who seemed to be talking in his sleep,
that 'I breathe when I sleep' 
is the same thing as
'I sleep when I breathe'

Alice in Wonderland

Now this is a strange beginning to our weekly chat isn't it.... me, mentioning a mouse

Well, if you had been in our house this week, you would have discovered that a mouse, has been an integral part of our week.

Let me tell you why.... but I would ask you to be patient, as this is a bit of a convoluted story.

As you know, last Saturday was the day we unpacked our Christmas decorations. Now last year, I had asked Natasha and Danielle if they would like to choose Christmas decorations from our tree, to add to their collection. They instantly smiled, and within seconds they were both standing at the tree.... no, not deciding which decorations to choose, but looking for a certain decoration, which they both loved. I knew which one they were looking for, because I had bought them in Germany and the girls always loved them.  It took a few minutes to locate the decoration, but they both chose the same one, along with a few others which they also loved.

So on Saturday, whilst I was unpacking our Christmas decorations, I remembered that we had only one, of a certain decoration left to hang on the tree.  I mentioned this to George. He looked at the decoration and told me, if I wanted him to, he could make a few more for me, as they were easy enough to put together.

I was thrilled, because it would be a role reversal. After many years of hanging decorations, which the girls had made, in future years, they would be hanging decorations, on their Christmas trees, which their dad had made. 

..... so, George set to. He was busy in the garage, on and off, for a couple of days, recreating these little decorations.  All that was needed, was for me to make the hat and scarf, which I felt was easy enough to do, even with my limited crochet skills.

On the third morning, George said the decorations were ready, so he went into the garage to collect the little lovelies.  He came back into the kitchen and said 'You'll never guess what, the heads are missing'. Of course the first thing I said, was 'Did you glue the heads on,'  He said, 'Of course I did, I definitely glued them on'. To which I said, 'Have they fallen off the workbench and rolled onto the ground'. His reply was 'Actually, that was the first thing I thought of, so I checked the floor, but no, not a head in sight.... they have completely disappeared' 

So a closer inspection was needed and that is when George discovered, we'd had a little visitor in the garage during the night.... a mouse... and what do mice love.... well, one of the things they love, is nuts.... and what were the heads made of.... yes you've guessed it, nuts.

You see, the original decorations had round wooden heads, but I did not have any round wooden balls to make the heads, so we decided to improvise and use a whole nutmeg for the head, which we thought looked pretty good..... but what we hadn't bargained on, was the little visitor in the garage. The nutmeg turned out to be a fabulously, scrumptious meal for the mouse.... Christmas had certainly come early for our little visitor.

So what did we do?

Well, we never use those horrid traps, which kill mice, we use humane mouse traps, as they catch the mice, without hurting them.  We then release the mice into a field.... but it has to be quite a distance from our home, because, mice are very territorial and they can make their way back home very easily.

So, the humane trap was set.... George had put a sprout leaf into the trap and do you know what, I have to tell you, we are dealing with a very clever mouse, because when George went into the garage, the next morning, the sprout leaf had disappeared, but the trap had not closed. Somehow our resident mouse had managed to take the food without getting trapped itself.  

So what did we do.... we  tried using cheese.... nope... the mouse did not even try and eat the cheese.... but I thought mice liked cheese, have their tastes changed over the years.  So what to do, the only thing we could, we turned to the Internet of course.... and what did we discover.

Well, believe it or not, it seems mice love peanut butter.... yes peanut butter.... who would have thought it.  I know it makes sense because the butter is made out of peanuts, so of course it would be a tempting feast for a mouse, but we would never have thought of this ourselves.

So, the upshot is, 

..... the peanut butter has been placed inside the humane trap

..... the decorations have been removed from the garage and have taken up residence in my sewing room.... waiting to be completed

..... I am trying my best to crochet the little hats and scarves.

..... oh yes, and I am going to do, what I should have done, in the first place ..... isn't hindsight a wonderful thing, I am going into town tomorrow to buy some wooden heads.

All being well, in the next few days,

.... the mouse will be deposited in its new home, where it will be able to hibernate before the weather turns. 

.... the decorations will be completed

.... so the said decorations will enjoy their new place on our Christmas tree.

.... phew what a pallarva over a few Christmas decorations.

So I think I had better change the subject, don't you, and get on with the Christmas baking.

The final thing I am going to share with you from our family Christmas two years ago is,

one of George's favourites, Christmas Mince Pies.... although to be honest, it is difficult to pin down George's favourite, because he loves Christmas cake, Christmas pudding and mince pies.

The brilliant thing about mince pies, is that they can be frozen, either when baked or before baking. So when time is of the essence, I tend to make the mince pies as early in December as I can, but I don't bake them straight away, I tend to freeze them. 

I love it when I can place a red tick against my Family Christmas 'Things to Do' list.... it feels very satisfying.

.... and so to the Christmas music I am playing at the moment.

I thought it apt that I was playing this music, as Natasha and I went to see Kate Rusby sing live, at The Sage in Gateshead, a couple of Christmases ago and we loved every minute of her performance.  Kate has the most beautiful voice.

So enjoy Kate Rusby singing Diadem with a little bit of Yorkshire brass music thrown in for good measure.

Now this song isn't from the same album, but I love it all the same as Kate can do no wrong in my book.

Oh and before I go, would you like to see what all the fuss and bother was about,

Now you see it

now you don't.

Take care and I will see you next week.

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