Monday 24 December 2018


Good Morning to you,

My Mince Pies have been made
and are ready for baking.

The fragrance of fresh

dried fruits 

fill the air.

Red Christmas cushions

bright red Poinsettias
bring seasonal colour
to each of my rooms.

Our Christmas tree
 looks so lovely 
hung with decorations
old and new.

Even my Christmas dress
has been chosen.

With all my Christmas gifts wrapped
and Christmas cards delivered,
there is just one
very important thing left for me to do,
and that is
wish you
and your family
a very
Happy Christmas
to say thank you so very much
for taking the time
throughout the year
visit me here
at Ivy, Phyllis and Me!
Your love and support
Ivy, Phyllis and Me!
is truly appreciated.

As Always,

Saturday 8 December 2018


Good Afternoon to you,

I had the most wonderful day a couple of Saturday's ago, when I went with a group of friends, to the beautiful Spa town of Harrogate for the Knitting and Stitching Show.

I was up and about at 6.00 am eating my breakfast, drinking my coffee and making sure I had everything I needed for my trip. 

Now I have to tell you, at 8.00am it is usually very quiet in my household and being so early, I expected a quiet journey to Harrogate.  How wrong was I. As the coach filled with ladies, the noise grew louder and the air filled with excited chatter. I have never experienced so much fun and laughter, so early in the morning.

We arrived in Harrogate a couple of hours later to see queues forming in front of the Harrogate Convention Centre, but none of us minded because we were with like minded people, who love to create, so waiting in a queue was no problem at all.  It's amazing how you can strike up a conversation with a stranger when they have the same interests as yourself.

Once we passed through security and were indoors, the fun began.

I had taken a list of items I wanted to buy, because I knew there would be a lot of stalls and I needed to be focused.  I decided,  I would browse first. The problem with browsing, is, you have to remember where you have browsed, especially as there were over 200 craft exhibitors.

.... and whilst browsing  I went completely off piste when I came across,

a stall selling Sashiko templates. I stopped dead in my tracks and knew immediately, that although Sashiko did not feature on my list, I would be buying some cloth.... at which point my list went right out of the window.

Sashiko is an ancient form of sewing using  running stitches.... similar to our quilting stitches.  Now you may think running stitches are easy, but to sew accurate running stitches, well that is another matter.  I will be put to the test when I begin this project.

As we walked on, I saw some very talented exhibitors, but I was intrigued when I saw  a stall with numerous perspex boxes laid out on tables.  I walked towards the stall and discovered under each perspex box, the most beautiful sweetheart pin cushion.... this is something I have never heard of. When I spoke to Diane Grant, she said that the pin cushions were love tokens made by recouperating soldiers during the Great War.  I really feel I cannot say too much because Diane researched this book for 4 years, so I would urge you to buy a copy as I feel sure, like me, you will find the history of sweetheart pin cushions quite fascinating.

Diane's Forget Me Not Book is published by Tandem Books, Wakefield, Yorkshire with the ISBN:978-1-9997950-09.

I spent a lot of time at Diane's stall, but eventually it was time to move on.

Now I think you know I am quite partial to a homemade Christmas tree decoration and so are my daughters, so I was pleased to discover this Christmas Beaded Wreath Kit.... I should say kits, because I bought 2, one for each of my daughters.... a little late to make any headway this year, but this will be something fun to complete next year.

.... and my final purchase was 3 skeins of this beautiful Falkland Aran wool and with a name like Basil it had to come home with me.  This wool is absolutely gorgeous to use.  I cannot tell you what I am knitting because it's a secret.... and if I tell you, then it will not be a secret.... but when the wool is knitted I will show you what I created.

All in all, I had the most fabulous day.  Now I mentioned at the beginning that in the morning the ladies on the coach were in high spirits, so I expected, after many hours of walking, everyone would be quiet on the journey home.... how wrong could I be, everyone was talking about the different items they had bought.... there was so much laughter that I have to tell you my sides hurt when I arrived home. That night I slept like a baby.... with a smile on my face.

.... and talking of a smile on my face, Christmas is really on its way, because yesterday I received my first Christmas card from our youngest daughter..... how happy am I.

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

Saturday 17 November 2018


Good Morning to you,

I love this time of year, as I can feel the sense of anticipation beginning to fill the air. Along with most people, my thoughts are slowly moving towards Christmas. Nothing major, just making lists and organising my Christmas thoughts.

....but there is also something else on my mind, which I am getting a tad excited about. I know, that in a short while, the many boxes stored in the loft, will be brought downstairs and each decoration will be carefully unwrapped. I love that each year, at Christmas time, our home takes on a whole new look, when it is filled with twinkly lights and beautiful baubles.

.... but there is a small problem with Christmas decorations being stored away for so long.... I tend to forget from one year to the next, just what I have packed away, so each year, I succumb to maybe one or two new decorations,

and this year is no different.  Well how could I walk away from such lovely Christmas decorations. I mean, it would be such a shame and if I hadn't bought them, I would have only regretted it, so for my peace of mind I decided to buy them.  As you can see,  I can convince myself of anything. 

With thoughts of Christmas lights and Christmas baubles, it is lovely to see the change in our city. The buildings are beginning to be dressed in their Christmas finery. Twinkling lights are hanging from shop windows. Christmas Markets visit our city and life is generally filled with hustle and bustle.

.... and Friday was no exception. I decided it was time to begin my Christmas shopping, as I have Christmas gifts which are to be posted abroad and although I cannot share with you the gifts I bought, I can certainly show you these,

gorgeous little robins, carved from wood. I looked at them, walked away.  I looked at them again on my return journey, and thought to myself, 'Mmm  they are really sweet', but my hands were filled with shopping bags, so I walked away.  You never know, they may be there the next time I go into town.

... and look at this stall.  Each year, we are thoroughly spoilt, because this company travels from Holland to bring us the most wonderful plants.

.... and as I am sure you can imagine, 

I lingered for quite a while looking at these lovely plants.  Do you see the cloud pruned trees on the left hand side of the photograph,  they are rather special aren't they.

What I love about our city is that you never know what to expect around the next corner.  I was amazed to see a young man creating this sand sculpture.  All the work he had put into this sand sculpture and all the pleasure he had given to passers by, would be turned back into sand at the end of the day.

There were Scottish bagpipes filling the air and as you can imagine this drew a large crowd. Around another corner there was a folk singer singing his songs.

... and around another corner I spotted these wooden reindeer,  carved from logs. I thought they were so cute.

All in all I had a lovely day.  I managed to buy quite a few Christmas presents.... but I still have a few more to buy.

Oh well, there is nothing to be done.... I will just have to return to our lovely city next week.

Oh I just remembered, I won't be with you next Saturday as I am going to The Harrogate Christmas Fair, so I will catch up with you later in the week, when I will tell you all about my trip. 

Until then,

As Always,

Saturday 10 November 2018


Good Afternoon to you,

A couple of months ago, I was watching BBC Gardener's World and my ears pricked up when I heard Monty Don say, that houseplants were coming back into fashion.

Now this surprised me, because I had not realised that houseplants had gone out of fashion, never mind coming back into fashion.

Houseplants for me, have always been an integral part of my home.  I cannot remember a time when I have not grown indoor plants.  Admittedly, the style of houseplant  which I grow has changed over the years, as I no longer grow rubber plants, spider plants or cheese plants, but I do grow plants which suit my smaller home.

For instance,

whilst this Clivia is new to my home, the plant itself is not new to me.  

When I lived in Cyprus, my friend gave me a Clivia as a birthday present. It was in full bloom when I received it, and the plant loved the temperature in my home.  It bloomed, just once a year, and always on my birthday, which was really lovely.  I have since heard from Pamela, one of my Instagram friends, that a Clivia will flower at Christmas and also Spring time.... which will be lovely.  Maybe I will be lucky and this Clivia will flower once again on my birthday.... wouldn't that be nice.

If you have been reading Ivy, Phyllis and Me! for a while, then you will know how much I love growing orchids.

.... many people think that orchids are a difficult plant to grow, so they avoid them.... and this is such a shame, because by following a few simple rules your orchids will bloom over and over again. I have orchids  blooming in my conservatory that I have been growing for years. When each orchid has finished blooming they are transferred to my kitchen window sill. The orchids are then cut  back, where they will rest, it is then the turn of the orchids on my kitchen window sill to be transferred to the conservatory to spend their time in the spotlight.

I have added as my Featured post this week, the post I wrote a few years ago, on how to care for orchids.  I think once you read the post, you will be surprised to find how easy orchids are to grow and enjoy in your home.

Another plant which I find easy to grow, is the Weeping Fig.... it just needs plenty of light.  I have grown these for years and I have never thought they were difficult.  This Weeping Fig is a plaited standard, and to look after it all I do is make sure it is watered once a week during wintertime, but it does need more water in the summer time. I dust the leaves with a cloth and every now and again I spray the leaves with a fine mist of water. When Spring arrives I start to feed it. The plant does benefit from being placed by a window and turned every now and again to make sure the leaves do not grow towards the light, but other than that I think you will be surprised how easy they are.  Maybe buy a small plant and see how you get on.

.... and I am thrilled to pieces with how this Parlour Palm has settled.  I bought 4 tiny plants for the princely sum of £1 each. I repotted them and cared for them until each one reached a good size, I then potted them on to the next size of pot.  When they were large enough I planted two Parlour Palms into two large pots and I am thrilled to say they are growing so well as they love the warmth of the conservatory.  Admittedly their growth will slow during the winter time, but next year they will put on another spurt and in a few years time I am hoping I will have two large Parlour Palms.  If you were to buy a full grown Parlour Palm I know they can run into over £100 for a large one, so why not buy small, nurture the plants and save yourself a lot of money.

Another favourite indoor plant is this Peace Lily.  Although I grow this one on my windowsill, it is quite happy, because this window does not receive any direct sunshine.... plenty of light.... but no sunshine to scorch the leaves.  I have grown Peace Lilies in the corner of a room and as long as the plant is given some direct light, it will survive quite happily.  You will also be treated to some lovely white flowers which will bloom two or three times a year.  An easy plant to care for and one which will reward you with lush green leaves.

A very old favourite and one which my mother Phyllis has grown for years.... a Christmas flowering Cactus. Actually I am sure this is a cutting taken from my mother's plant. I have to be honest and say, 10 or 11 months of the year, this flowering cactus does look rather boring, but during the run up to Christmas the flowers begin to form and before you know it you have buds all over the plant and when the buds burst into bloom, the plant looks spectacular.  I normally stand this plant in my porthole window, but I could not get a decent photograph to show you, so I moved it onto this shelf. It has now been returned to the window, where it sits quite happily.

.... and I could not leave you without sharing this touch of whimsy.... don't you just love Baby Groot. Whenever I look at him he always brings a smile to my face.  

Baby Groot was part of my birthday present earlier in the year and unbeknown  to me, Baby Groot arrived before my birthday with George being given strict instructions as to the type of plant he had to buy from the garden centre.... and I think he did an admirable job as he found the perfect plant.  To care for the air plant, all I have to do, is pop the air plant into rain water once a week and it is happy.

So if you do not grow houseplants, maybe give it a go... it is lovely to have that touch of greenery around the home and not only do the plants look lovey,  they are also very good for filtering the air.

I would love to know which houseplants you have had success with, as maybe the houseplants which you grow are totally different to mine.

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

As Always,

Sunday 4 November 2018


Good Afternoon to you,

Firstly, I am so sorry I was not with you yesterday afternoon, but I had a lovely surprise visit from my sister-in-law.... and once we started chatting the time flew by, which left me no time to write to you.  I did let my Instagram friends know that I would not be posting yesterday, but I did not have the time to post here on my blog.

.... but I will make up for it, as I have a lovely little story to tell you today.  

Last week, as usual, I joined the ladies of my Thursday craft group. When I arrived, I said hello to everyone and made my way to my craft table. 

I made myself a cup of coffee and then started to unpack the contents of my bag, which I  organised on my table.

At the moment I am busy, making Christmas tree decorations, so this was the perfect project to work on at my Thursday group.

Whilst I was doing this, my friend arrived with her little 4 year old granddaughter.  I will call the little girl Georgina... this is not her real name, but for the sake of privacy that is what I will call her. 

We welcomed them both, but when I said hello to  Georgina, she was not sure about me, she was very shy.  I did understand as she had not met me before, so I went back to my table and I thought to myself, she will speak to me when she is ready.

Shortly afterwards another member of our group arrived, who is also a Grandmother, and she brought her little 6 year old granddaughter.... this little girl I will call Molly. So as you can see, we were thoroughly spoilt with 2 lovely little girls to make a fuss of. 

After everyone caught up with each others news, my friends started crafting and I started sewing,

I was busily sewing the bell onto this green Christmas tree decoration, when, from now where, Georgina appeared and sat on my lap. Being 4 years of age, she is quite a  little girl, and I realised she had snuck under my table to find her way onto my lap. Honestly, I was so focused on what I was doing, that I did not see this lovely little girl beside me. I know I tend to get lost in my work, but I would have thought I would have seen Georgina making her way to me.

I have to say I was secretly pleased, because Georgina seemed to lose her shyness and started talking to me.  Whilst talking to me she saw on the table, my box filled with interesting objects and she wanted to see what was inside.

So I removed the hexagons from the box and I lay them on the table.... her eyes lit up and she started playing with them. She lay them out on the table and for a little while she was satisfied.... remember this is a little 4 year old.

.... and then something else caught her eye,

inside a smaller box which I use to keep odds and ends for projects I am working on. Inside the box Georgina discovered,

a glue stick.... which caused great excitement as she knew what it was.  She picked it up and before I knew it, she had twisted the lid off and wanted to glue something.

At this point, Molly became interested in what Georgina was doing and came across to my table. So I had to think quickly, what could I give the 2 little girls to glue. I didn't have any craft paper only material.

.... of course, they could glue the hexagons.... but I had to explain, that we would glue the paper on the back of the hexagons and not the material on the front.

I asked each girl to choose 2 hexagons which  they liked and then they began using the glue stick, the hexagons were glued together, and of course glued, then glued a little bit more.  They decided this was fun and chose some more hexagons to glue, but at the rate the girls were gluing, first I would run out of hexagons and secondly I would run out of glue. So I had to think on my feet, what else could  they do.... I know, they could glue a piece of ribbon to the top of the hexagon.... can you see where I am going with this.  When you are playing with a 4 year old and a 6 year old your brain has to work pretty quickly. So we cut the ribbon and both girls glued the ribbon to each of their hexagons.

....but for one little girl, the glue stick was too much fun and she was not going to give it up lightly.... can you guess who it was.  That's right, little Georgina was having so much fun, she decided that it would be much more fun to glue 3 hexagons together, not paper to paper, but material to material. I think if she could, she would have glued every hexagon together, one on top of the other, until every hexagon was glued.  

So again, I had to think quickly.  Inside my smaller box I had quite a few little bells, so I needed to distract Georgina... I took all the bells out of the box and put one bell to Georgina's ear and let her hear the bell tinkle.... her eyes lit up.... this was fun.  

I asked Georgina and Molly to choose the bell they liked the most, but to be able to choose, they needed to put the bell to their ear and listen to the tinkle of each bell.  This they were quite happy to do, and it took quite a while for each to decide which bell they liked the best.

.... although when it was decision time, Georgina felt it would be much better to have 10 bells rather than 1... I mean why have 1 when you can have 10, but if I gave Georgina 10 bells, which she was most welcome to, I would not have had enough bells for Molly. So what was I to do.

I decided to turn the hexagons into Christmas tree decorations for the girls. So I persuaded the girls, that in order for me to finish the decorations for them to take home, I needed to begin sewing.  Luckily both grandmothers could see what I was trying to do, and sat their respective granddaughter on their knee, so that I could begin sewing.

I hurriedly slip stitched around the hexagons and I was able to centralise the ribbon as  the glue had not dried.  I then took each bell which Georgina and Molly had chosen and stitched it to the bottom of each of their hexagons.

I have never stitched so quickly.... but I finished both Christmas tree decorations in time for the girls to take home. Although this decoration isn't what the girls made, I wanted to give you an idea of what we had made together.

Both Georgina and Molly loved their Christmas tree decoration and they each thanked me, then just as Georgina was leaving, hand in hand with her grandmother, she looked at me and with a smile said , 'This Christmas tree decoration belongs to me, so could you make me another one for my mummy.'

I smiled and said of course I would.

.... and with that she was gone.

It has been a while since I have been around such young girls, but do you know it was a joy, I loved every minute of it.

.... so there was nothing left for me to do, but to return, 

to my sewing, which did not feel quite the same as it had before I met Georgina and Molly.

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

As Always,

Saturday 27 October 2018


Good Afternoon to you,

Today, I thought it prudent to bake a cake, as I have been receiving huge hints from George, that it's the weekend and the cake tin is decidedly empty. The only way he could make it any clearer that he wanted to indulge in a piece of cake, is if he stood in front of me and said 'Please bake me a cake'.

As the weather turns colder and the nights draw in, comfort food and cake, become an integral part of my cooking.

Do I see you rolling your eyes? Are you thinking to yourself, eating cake is not a good idea, because what is the saying.... oh yes.... 'a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips'.... well yes I suppose this is true, but surely everything in moderation.  

My mother, Phyllis eats whatever she wants, and her weight never seems to fluctuate by more than a couple of pounds, as she is a firm believer of eating everything in moderation.

I think it would be wrong of me to say, I am as good as my mother, because my appetite ebbs and flows with the weather.  In the summer time I eat less, but when winter arrives it is fair to say I do indulge a little more.

.... but this is how I compensate. Around the middle of November, I ban all things sweet, such as cakes, biscuits and chocolates from our house, (with George's agreement of course) until Christmas arrives and then I give myself permission to indulge in all the Christmas foods.  I don't know about you, but I  find, I can resist temptation if the forbidden foods are not in the house.  I might fancy a chocolate, but if there are none in the cupboard, then I find the fancy passes quite quickly.

.... and between you and me, I feel the constant hinting from George, is because he knows, very shortly, there will be no cake in the house.

But for now, I do feel this Plum cake will indulge his sweet tooth and as plums are plentiful in the markets at the moment, this is the perfect Autumnal cake.

So it's on with the pinnie and time to organise my ingredients.


250g soft unsalted butter
250g soft brown sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
250g self raising flour - sieved 
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
500g plums ~ halved and stones removed

You will need:  22cm cake tin, buttered and lined
with baking parchment.

Pre heat the oven to 170C


Using an electric whisk, 

Whisk the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

Whilst the butter and sugar are combining. Whisk together the eggs and vanilla extract and set aside for the moment.

Sieve the s.r. flour, cinnamon and salt and set aside.

When the butter and sugar are light and fluffy, add the eggs a little at a time and continue whisking. If you find the mixture splitting, add a tablespoon of flour and continue whisking.

Add the dry ingredients a tablespoon at a time until thoroughly combined.

Spoon the cake mixture into the pre-prepared cake tin and smooth the top. 

Place the halved plums into the cake mixture, pushing them down into the mixture.  You can arrange them haphazardly or create a design. You will find to fit all the plums into the cake mixture, they will need to be quite close together.

Bake for about 1 hour or until the cake is golden in colour and firm to the touch.

Leave the cake in the cake tin for 10 minutes, then remove  and place onto a cooling rack to cool.

There are two ways to enjoy this Plum cake. You can eat it warm with a spoonful of double cream or enjoy it cooled with a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Either way, I think you will be happy to indulge your sweet tooth.

.... but not too much, remember the saying I mentioned earlier.

'A moment on the hips, a life time on the hips.'

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

Oh yes, just before I leave you, I wanted to mentioned that I am having great problems answering your comments.  The comments are there, but when I try to access them they disappear.  I know Google does not support Open ID Comments anymore.  Do you know of anyway around this to allow me to access your comments.  I would appreciate any help you could give me.

As Always,

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