February 21 2017

Gluten and Dairy Free Ranch Dip Recipe

I’ve never had ranch dip but often see it mentioned in recipes or as an accompliment for chips or vegetable sticks. For those I would normally make yoghurt and mint dip or some homemade hummus. Yesterday I decided I would have a go and see if I could adapt a recipe and create a dairy and gluten free ranch dip. As always I wanted the recipe be made quite simply and quickly and without the need for too many complicated ingredients. Everything used in the recipe can be bought in most regular supermarkets now.

To make my gluten and dairy free ranch dip I used violife cheese spread, which surprisingly has been in the fridge since Christmas. I kinda overbought on cheese for Christmas (is there such a thing as too much cheese?) Fortunately they have a long date so have lasted okay rather than ending up wasted. My soya milk with the sweetened one from Tesco’s in a blue cartoon. It’s the one my son likes best so it’s what we had in the cupboard. The mayo I used was Mayola brand. I’m not that keen on the taste of that particular one on its own, so i have been trying to use up the bottle I had in other recipes. It was really nice in the big batch of home-made coleslaw i made recently, after I realised I hadn’t had it in ages.

Having never had ranch dip before, I cant be sure that this one tastes authentic. But it is delicious anyway. Perfect with Kettle chips and cucumber sticks ūüėÄ

gluten and dairy free ranch dip


Homemade Gluten and Dairy Free Ranch Dip Recipe

60ml (1/4 cup) soya milk mixed with 1tsp lemon juice
150g (5.5oz) dairy free cheese spread
40ml (2.5 tbsp) dairy free mayonnaise
1 garlic clove, chopped
1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp chopped chives
1tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped dill
1/2tsp paprika
1tsp mustard
Salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to a food processor and pulse until well combined

Alternatively, if you do not have a food proccesor:

1. In a large bowl, mix together the soya milk, cheese spread, paprika, mustard and mayonnaise until completely combined and smooth.
2. Chop the garlic, chives, parsley and dill small and combine with the olive oil. Mix well.
3. Mix together the herby oil and cheese mixture.
4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.


gluten and dairy free ranch dip





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February 13 2017

Random Stripes Crochet Blanket – My Current Work in Progress.

After Christmas I started on a new crochet blanket design. I have had the blanket idea planned out for a while but haven’t had much time to get started on it. A good friend of mine is having a baby in the summer, so that seemed a perfect excuse to grab my yarn and hook and get started.


crochet blanket


The crochet blanket isn’t a traditional baby blanket in pastel colours but instead features bright and bold colours. I am using (UK) treble crochet and working with two strands of double knit wool. Using an 8mm (size L) hook this combination creates a soft, squishy fabric with a little stretch that I really like. I first tried out this mix when making my rainbow crochet blanket and really liked how it turned out. Seems like my son agrees as he has claimed it as his own! All of the blankets I had made previous had been done using double knit wool and treble crochet but only a 4mm hook (F). That make up a more solid, prehaps even a little stiff blanket. They do soften up with use so its not really a problem.


striped crochet blanket


The stripes in the blanket are made up of varying number of rows. Sometimes this number has depended on how much of a certain colour yarn I had left, but others I decide as I go along based on how it looks. The largest sections are seven rows. Seven has been my favourite number since I was a child and it adds a little magic to the design. The blanket is 89 stitches wide and so far I have completed 67 rows. The fabrics is now a good size for keeping me warm as I work on. I am planned on continuing until I have 100 rows  and then will add a border and edging to finish it off.


crochet blanket

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January 16 2017

Top Stringing Materials for Jewellery Making

Top cords for jewellery making

Jewellery making is a very varied craft that encompasses many styles and techniques. A common feature of creating handmade jewellery is the use of cords, threads and other materials to hold beads, pendants and charms. Cords can also be used to create an entire piece of jewellery. There is a variety of cords that can be used in this way though some are more suited to certain applications than others. For example if you wanted a fine thread for stringing a bracelet of small gemstones then a nylon thread or tigertail would be a good choice. Where as if you wish to create a chunky macrame design, a thicker sturdy waxed cotton or colour rattail is more suitable. Cords maybe hidden away underneath beads and other components or it can be encorporated into the jewellery’s design.


In my latest hub I have brought together information on seven threads and cords that can be used in creating handmade jewellery. The article includes information on suggested uses, sizes and important things to consider such as strength and ease of use. Materials featured includes waxed cotton cord, ribbon, rattail and illusion cord. The full HubPages article can be found at Seven Top Stringing Materials for Jewellery Making


As well as this latest hub I have many others that are related to jewellery making including Using Semi-Precious Stone in Jewellery Design, Using Colour in Jewellery Design and Important Points to Consider when Designing Jewellery.

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December 15 2016

Jewellery Making Business: Start Your Own! – Introduction Video

My jewellery making course has is now rated five stars on www.ofcourse.co.uk. I designed and created the course with complete novices and those just starting out in mind. The course covers a range of topics including using colour in jewellery making, different types of beads, information on tools and precious and semi-precious gemstones. The final section covers how to start selling jewellery on and offline and some practical and legal matters than need to be considered or followed.

Jewellery making business course that will teach you the key skills for designing fabulous jewellery, and setting up a business to sell jewellery. Do you have a passion for creating jewellery that you want to make into your career? Have you always wanted to know how to design your own jewellery products? This course will teach you the key skills for creating and designing fabulous jewellery, and will then explain what is required to price and sell jewellery online and offline.

Visit the Jewellery Making Business: Start Your Own! course page for full details and to sign up and get started.  Use code; TEACHER_CLAIRE50 at checkout to receive a 50% discount on the course price.

Course Highlights

  • Over 2 hrs of video content to help you create jewellery, with supporting PDF Tutorials for making specific jewellery
  • Learn how to create a profitable jewellery making business
  • Detailed presentations explaining how to utilise beads of all materials
  • Pricing strategies, and legal information concerning the running of a jewellery making business

Enrol to Earn Your Certificate

  • Enrol and become certified in a new skill
  • Share your new skill with employers, friends and colleagues
  • Build a porfolio of course projects
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December 2 2016

Vegan Cranberry and Almond Chocolate Bark Recipe

vegan chocolate bark

There is no need to be boring or limited when eating a vegan diet. Many foods are naturally vegan and there is a huge range of vegan cookbooks and recipe websites. Health food shops and some supermarkets stock delicious vegan items such as cakes, chocolate and ice creams or you can opt for making your own. Many recipes are simple and quick to make. My making your own you can tailor the finished treats to your own tastes and know exactly what went into making them.

My delicious recipe for vegan chocolate bark packed with healthy almonds and cranberries can be found here. The article includes information on the health benefits of the ingredients and a step by step easy to follow recipe. This vegan chocolate bark recipe can be used to create delicious gifts for friends and family. The recipe can also be used to make chocolate bark as an alternative to shop bought treats. The bark can be kept fresh in an airtight container. Try experimenting with other types of nuts and dried fruit to create a selection of great tasting vegan chocolate barks. Vegan varieties of milk and white chocolate can also be used instead of dark chocolate.

Vegan Cranberry and Almond Bark Recipe

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November 25 2016

ABC of Terms used in Magic

herbal magic
Photo Source – Esc861, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I have put together a basic glossary of terms commonly used in herbal magic. Many you may be familiar with already as they are relevant to other areas of magic, paganism and witchcraft. There are many others but I hope that this list can be a helpful starting point for those new to the topic, as a quick and simple list or as reminder.

Adept – Someone who has gained a specific level of knowledge, skill or aptitude in an area.

Akashic Records – Sometimes called ‘The Book ofLife’. A collection of every deed, word, feeling, thought, and intent that has ever occurred at any time in the history of the world. Those who are able to tap into these records can learn otherwise unobtainable information about the past.

Amulet – An object that is worn to bring luck or to protect.

Anaphrodisiac – The opposite of an aphrodisiac. Any herb that cools passion.

Aphrodisiac – Herbs that can be used to increase sexual desire.

Astral projection – The phenomena of experiencing consciousness outside of your physical body.

Athame РA ceremonial knife that is used in rituals. It usually has a black handle.

Balefire – An open air fire that is lit for magical purposes.

Bane – Any cause of harm or death.

Banish – To drive away for good.

Besom – A broom made from twigs tied to a stronger central pole. These are the brooms traditionally associated with witches.

Botanomancy – Divination using herbs.

Censer – A vessel used for burning incense. These are often made of brass, copper or clay.

Chaplet – A garland of flowers, leaves or herbs that can be worn on the head.

Clairvoyance – ‘Clear seeing’ The ability to perceive information in a way other than through the five senses. Often called intuition.

Clear – To remove negative energy from a space, person or item.

Consecrate – To make something holy or sacred.

Coven – A group of witches who work and worship together.

Curse РConcentrated negative and/or destructive energy that has been deliberately created and directed at someone or something. This is done with the intention of doing harm.


healing herbal peppermint tea
Source: Anthony Cramp. [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr
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November 16 2016

Download Gluten Free Vegan on a Budget eBook

Often when people hear gluten free and vegan together their first thoughts are either, it must be very expensive or must be a very restricted and boring diet to have. The good news is that neither of these are true and even when coupled with the need to be gluten free, vegan food can be delicious, healthy and varied. In June 2016 I finished and published my Kindle book Gluten Free and Vegan on a Budget, which is packed full of tasty recipes with are free from gluten and all animal products.

gluten free and vegan ebook

The 56 page ebook contains twenty one of my own gluten free vegan recipes. For each recipe I have avoided using expensive or difficult to obtain ingredients and have instead used foods that are easily available and naturally gluten free and vegan. A few of the recipes do include vegan cheese and gluten free pasta but these are now stock by many supermarkets and health food shops. The recipes also do not require any specialist equipment, although a food processor or blender of some kind is useful.

Most of the recipes serve two people but can easily be made for more by increasing the ingredients. From various groups and talking to others I have found it is common that only one person in a family or household will be vegan and/or gluten free, so it felt more practical to have recipes that could be made in smaller amounts with no adaptations.

Each recipe is accompanied by a full colour photograph of the dish and this book also contains a list of ideas for jacket potato fillings and seven delicious healthy smoothie recipes.

vegan fudge

Recipes featured in the ebook include:

Rice Patties with Stir Fry Veg

Pea Curry

Creamy Mushroom and Leek Pasta

Spicy Lentil Pakoras

Pear and Polenta Cake

and many more.


Gluten Free Vegan on a Budget was originally only available for Kindle devices and apps and from the Elderberry Tutorials Etsy shop but can now be bought and downloaded directly from this page. To purchase your copy simply click on the link below. Payments are handled securely by PayPal so you can be sure that your details and privacy are fully protected.

[powr-digital-download id=f345eed6_1479827994156]

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