Today freelance writer Julie Blackburn interviewed me on making handmade gifts for Christmas – including the handmade soap you’d make in my soapmaking workshops. She’s writing a piece on how you can create your own presents this year and I took her through some of the projects on my blog including a sea glass candle and a diy terrarium. Afterwards I introduced her to the art of handmade soap with a personal lesson. I recall making my own first batch of soap and so can appreciate how difficult it seems

I’ve shied away from Pavlova for years mainly because my only experience with meringue was with those little pre-made nests you buy at the shop. They’re crunchy, practically made of pure sugar, and in my opinion not very nice. Then last Christmas I went to a party and had to try the Pavlova out of courtesy. It was beautiful! Light and crispy on the outside and soft and chewy in. With sweet cream and fresh berries it’s like heaven on a plate and it’s now become one of my standard

Calendula flowers are very easy to grow and useful in both your beauty regime and kitchen. These golden flowers can bloom from early spring until late autumn and I’ve even seen them showing off their colourful petals here in the winter when we’ve had a mild season. Blessed with a lovely colour that defies heat, you can use these flowers to liven up fresh salads, to naturally colour breads and cakes, and to add a mild peppery taste to soups. Calendula is also a very effective yet gentle skin healing herb.

Another summer has passed and the time I have for working in my allotment garden was even less than I had last year. I enjoy having my plot of land on the Laxey hillside but I’m struggling with ways to keep the plot going while not having to tend it every day. I’m determined that there is a way so I’m creating an allotment plan that will hopefully minimize the time, effort, and cost I put into my veggie plot. In a simple internet search I found dozens of links on what

Earlier this year I decided to try an experiment based on some intriguing photos I spotted online. A few beekeepers in the USA have had success in putting mason jars into hives and allowing the honeybees to build comb straight into them. The jars can then be taken out of the hive, filled with honey and presented as a genuine jar of honey with perfectly formed honeycomb inside. I am in love with the idea. Though there’s still work to be done, I’m pleased to announce that my bees have finally begun building inside

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