• beginners

    how-tos, natural secrets, seasonal things to do • Jan 13th, 2020


    I have three makes for you today:

    Oxford orange marmalade

    It’s citrus season and we make marmalade, only one batch, enough for breakfasts till the honey harvest. I’d like to give you a definitive recipe but we read and research each year to see which ones inspire.  Ingredients-wise I use 1 kilo of Seville oranges, 4 pints of water and 1. 25 kilos of granulated sugar, sorry about the mix of metric and imperial, it happens when you combine recipes. Nigel Slater’s article on marmalade making is very helpful on the watch points; less sugar, soft orange peel and wonderful flavour, you can find it here. Mr D made the marmalade this time as he loves to cook so we agreed not to use the cardamom seeds, talked through testing for a set and there are now 8 wonderful jars for the cupboard. And Oxford marmalade because we use to have Frank Cooper’s Oxford marmalade growing up and we love Oxford.







    skin salve

    You may have seen the almond oil skin cleanser I make on Instagram last week. It’s very easy and you can customise the ingredients with your favourite oils. I guess I need to say that you should be careful about what you apply to your skin and even a mild reaction means you stop using it tout de suite. The recipe has a base of almond oil though I’ve used apricot oil and walnut oil before. I like to apply it to my skin in the morning and wipe off with a damp cleansing pad, it’s very hydrating.


    50 ml base oil as it comes or infused with calendula, juniper, camomile or fennel, (these are the ones I’ve tried)

    10 ml melted beeswax, you can buy on-line or from a beekeeper

    a few drops of essential oil to pair with the herb you chose for the infusion maybe


    melt the beeswax in a double boiler or jar in hot water on the stove, you’ll need two or three tablespoons; less beeswax will make your salve softer but you need at least two spoons to get the salve to set.

    pour the oil (through muslin if you’ve infused it) straight  into a 60 ml jar and set into a pan of boiling water to warm it and take it out after a few minutes

    add the drops of essential oil

    add the translucent melted beeswax and stir with a small metal spoon

    allow to set at room temperature

    screw on the cap and label


    knitted sea creatures

    I like to knit and crochet when the fancy takes me; I’ve always been a beginner and never really done a big project I liked by the time I’d finished. I do like making toys though and this month I’ve made fish and an octopus for my 18 month old grandson. If you can cast on and off and do knit stitch you can make them all quite quickly. Apparently this is a school project for 7 year olds in Canada. Otto is made from a square of garter stitch with twizzled tentacles and the pattern is here

    The fish pattern is a bit make it up as you go along but you can start with these simple instructions:

    🔸use simple knit stitch throughout

    🔸cast on 3 stitches

    🔸increase on the first stitch on each row till you have 14 stitches

    🔸knit 8 rows

    🔸decrease on the first stitch till you get back to 3 stitches

    🔸increase on the first and last stitch for 3 rows (you’re growing the tail fin)

    🔸knit 3 rows

    🔸bind off

    🔸make two and sew them together, insert a little stuffing before closing and make eyes with a piece of black yarn

    I think Master L will enjoy putting these in unlikely places in the house.



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