February 29 2016

Butternut Squash and Tomato Soup (vegan and Gluten Free)

This recipe is perfect for the cooler autumn days and is not only a healthy choice full of fresh ingredients but is also gluten, wheat, milk, egg, nut and soya free. The recipes is also suitable for vegetarians and vegans.

The finished soup can be successfully frozen as a whole or in portion sizes, which is particularly useful if you are the only person following a gluten free, dairy free, vegan or vegetarian diet in your household as it means you can have a nutritious meal or snack ready in a short time. The soup can be served on its own or with croutons, bread or toast for a more substantial meal. The consistency can be adjusted to suit your tastes simply by adding more or less of the vegetable stock at the blending stage. If you are unsure how much to add it is always best to add a small amount, blend and test. You can always add more if the soup is too thick but cannot take it back out easily if you add too much and end up with a thin watery finished soup.

This healthy butternut squash and tomato soup would also be delicious made a little thinner and served in mugs as a cup a soup on chilli autumn nights or around a bonfire.

Serves 6
Large butternut squash
10 ripe tomatoes
2 red onions
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1 red chilli (remove the seeds for less heat)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 litre (2 pints) vegetable stock (check for gluten and milk ingredients if needed)
Salt and pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 375F/190C/Gas Mark 5. Peel the butternut squash and cut it in half, remove the seeds and chop into 2cm cubes.

2. Halve the tomatoes, and peel and thickly slice the onions.

3. Place the butternut squash, tomatoes, onions, chilli and garlic into a roasting tray, pour over the oil and mix well to coat the veg. Cover the tray with foil and bake for 30 minutes, checking after 20 minutes.

4. Once the vegetables are tender place everything into a food processor or blender with half of the vegetable stock. Blend until smooth. Check the soup for thickness and add the rest of the stock or part of it as required to achieve the desired consistency.

December 20 2014

Save Money on Heating with Cheap and Easy Insulation.

There are many ways to save money on heating your home including switching to a cheaper supplier or taking advantage of special offers and deals, buying portable heaters or electric blanket or wearing more layers of clothes. These are all useful and are things that most people can do easily at home themselves and enable them to stay warmer at less cost. However if there is a problem with your house such as gaps between windows and doors and their frames, no matter how much you wrap up the house will still feel cold and heat from any heating you do lose will be lost to the outdoors.

One room in my house has a set of wooden patio doors that are lovely in the summer but very drafty in winter. Since we moved here three years ago I have tried several ways of fixing the problem to help save money on heating the room, including using door sealing tape to fill some of the gaps. Some were too large and I also found that the tape was not very long lasting. While thinking about what to do to solve the problem that would not be too difficult, very expensive or mean that the room was then far to hot in the summer. I remembered the way many people use bubble wrap to insulate garden greenhouses and thought there was no reason that it would not work for internal windows and doors as well. Even better I had some large sheets of bubble wrap that had come in a parcel that I thought would be perfect for the job.

From start to finish the project took about 30 minutes. I used masking tape to stick the bubble wrap sheets to the door frame so that the gaps between it and the doors where completely enclosed. I decided on masking tape partly because it is easy to tear into pieces and also is likely to be easier to remove once it is warmer again than a more ‘stickier’ tape such as sellotape. Rather than measuring the bubble wrap I stuck it down on one side on the door frame and then held it across to the other side before cutting it to size. The tape needs run the entire length of each piece of bubble wrap otherwise the drafts will come through any gaps. If you need to join the bubble wrap at any point, the joins also need to be completely covered with tape.

The room is now much warmer even when the heating is not on and once the weather is warmer again I can remove the bubble wrap and store it ready for next winter. You do not need to buy special bubble wrap to use it as insulation and can reuse some you already have as I did. The bubble wrap needs to be seal all the way around the edges of the window and door as drafts and cold air will be able to pass through even the smallest gaps. If you need to join pieces of bubble wrap these will also need to be taped along the edges completely so that there are no gaps there.

Bubble wrap can be bought in rolls that would be ideal for this cheap insulation project, as it can then be cut to the required size easily and any extra stored neatly. If needed the bubble wrap insulation can be removed and re-rolled and saved meaning that only new tape will be needed next winter. These factors make this method and very cheap and effective way to insulate doors and windows. Even more so if you are able to reuse bubble wrap you already have. But even if you need to buy some now, it can be used in future and the costs overall are likely to be less than the money that you save on heating costs.

Save money on heating
All edges and joins should be covered completely with tape to stop any cold air coming through the bubble wrap.


December 2 2014

Snowflake Earring Tutorial Now Avaliable

This tutorial provides step by step instructions with colour photographs showing how to create a pair of unusual earrings.

You will not need any prior knowledge other than how to open and close a loop using pliers in order to complete this tutorial. The cord and bead colours can be customized to suit your own preferences if desired.

Snowflake Earring Tutorial

Perfect for the winter season this full colour, step by step tutorial is now available to download from Jewelry Lessons. Every aspect of creating this unusual piece of jewellery is explained within the earring tutorial so it is suitable for beginner and more experienced jewellery makers alike.


November 22 2014

Professional Crafters Guild Christmas Book is Out Now.

This interactive online book has listings detailing many of the members of the Professional Crafters Guild. It has information on the beautiful crafts and services that they offer as well as full colour photographs and weblinks. The book is perfect for Christmas and winter holiday shopping  from the comfort of your own home while also enabling you to support small businesses. There are items to suit every taste and budget including crocheted items, soaps, Christmas stockings, jewellery and candles.



The Professional Crafters guild was established in 2011 in order to help those who work in crafts to be taken seriously. They offer a wide range of services including registration certificates and badges to display on your website or offline, websites and lots and lots of friendly support. Joining the guild if free though there is also a premier member option with even more great benefits.

Visit their website at http://www.procraftersguild.com for further information.


Professional Crafters Guild membership