Harvesting Olives

olive on plant

I have harvesting olives recently from the olive trees round by the village in Italy. I am curious as it’s my first time harvesting olives. Plus while I was there it was lovely sunny and warm weather. It has taken a change the following week with strong wind and rain bringing snow to the Alps?!! One … Read more

Blogging – hosted domains and self-hosted domains

self hosted vs hosted

Hosted blogging service 

When I first started blogging, I used the free service from wordpress.com. I found it very easy to get a blog up and running, in less than 30 minutes I was online. Post a few nice pictures and write something about yourself for home page. You are good to go.

Then after a week into blogging, I upgraded to wordpress.com personal plan so that I could have my domain name for my blog. It does not look professional to have a domain that includes the name wordpress.com. Also, it feels pretty precarious to not own the domain that points to my blog and rely upon a free service that may be subject to change or withdrawal in the future. As you are actually a subdomain of wordpress.com website.

Backup your blog

Make sure you export/ backup your blog frequently. I do it all the time even I own my own domain as my blog can hacked, or server down for whatever reason. Doing the backup yourself gives you the comfort of knowing your blog can be recovered if need be.

self hosted vs hosted

After two months into blogging I found the WordPress personal plan quite restrictive because  I couldn’t add any videos, use Yoast SEO app or install any plugins that are not in their web design themes template. My permalinks all got a date on it which I can’t remove. With the limited customisation available for my blog, it just doesn’t look good enough. WordPress offer a solution with more features, but it means upgrading to a Premium plan, which in my opinion costs too much for an amateur like me.

I am planning to change to either a self hosted service which supports WordPress software or buy a domain name separately and host it myself as my other half has got his own website. Owning a domain name is a great advantage because if you don’t like the web host (blogs take too long to load you lose your viewers interest very soon, or hidden add ons that they don’t tell you when you sign up) you can move you site. You can do this by moving the hosting provider, or using an Internet service called DNS, which means you can just point the DNS entry to where your site have moved host.

hosted vs self hosted

Cost implications

There are places where you can just buy a domain name without having to sign up for web hosting.  It just open up your options as you are able to install plugins and videos. I bought one recently it only cost me £5.99/ year (incL VAT) plus a free email address (yup ending with your domain) compared to other names around on averages charges around £15.00/ year (incl. VAT). Do have a look around.

Once you got a domain name you need a minimum of a web host to map the domain you bought onto the web. There are many around that says that they supports WordPress. WordPress software is free to download from wordpress.org, which something to keep in mind. But do you really need one that supports wordpress? No is the answer, there are other options. So do have a look at web hosts that have got either mySQL version 5.6, PHP version 7.2 or greater, Maria DB 10.0 or higher as these are recommendations that supports wordpress software installation.


WordPress and the similar products make blogging easy, but all one really needs is a reliable host for webpages, with minimal downtime, support that provides fast page load times. There are also free web hosts around, but sometimes you get what you pay for – e.g. no anti spam, limited support, ads placed on your blogs and limited space. They do offer an upgrade service for a bit more. Most do come with wordpress software installation as well. But we then come full circle back to wordpress.com…

But there are many more options for web hosting, if you want to roll your sleeves up and get technical, you can even get a virtual server and put whatever you want on it and have a lot of control. My other half does this, but it’s not for the faint hearted and adds a layer of complexity when all you want to do is blogging without becoming a system administrator.

When I started my blogging journey, I found many guides on blogging on hosted and self hosted were just click-bait and ad laden, trying to sell services. Makes one wonder doesn’t it?  Something to keep in mind.

wordpress.com or wordpress.org

blogging self hosted
self hosted bloggingself hosted for blogging

hosted or self hosted?

Chicken noodle soup

Here is a recipe using pak choi which I have grown in my garden (chinese leafy green). This is a all in one pot cook recipe chicken noodle soup.

Makes about 3-4 portions


1 packet (250 grms) of dried egg noodles (it is possible to use fresh egg pasta noodles
4 medium size chicken thighs and legs (with bones on), skin remove if you like
1 medium size onion (peeled and chop into quarters)
One medium size carrot (slice or chop into chunks)
1 medium size leek or 2 stalks of celery cut into chunks

1 medium size carrot
For more umami (depth of flavour) add about 2 pieces of dried scallops, or 3 pieces of dried oysters if you have them on hand. They are sold in asian grocers at least I know the scallops are. Japanese seaweed do add umami flavour as well, it’s use as a garnish rather than in the broth. One piece of large size seaweed will do for 4 portions
200 grms pak choi washed and slice into 2cm thickness  (alternatively you can use leafy green vegetable)
3 stalk of spring onions sliced finely (optional)
3-4 medium size eggs
Fried onions to garnish
2 stalks of spring onions chopped finely

Chicken stock

Make the chicken stock by putting the chicken thighs and legs, chopped onion, and carrots. Put them in pot about 1.5 litres of water. If you have any leek or celery put them in together. Add about 2 liters of water. Bring to boil, once boil skimp off any impurities. Let to boil for an hour or so when the chicken flesh starts to separate from the bone.

Then add the eggs and dried noodles into the broth. Boil for 3 minutes then add the pak choi. Cook for another 1 minute.

Dish out in a bowl and serve with some fried onions and spring onions (optional). Break the eggshells and serve the partially cooked egg with the noodles.

For a free pdf of this recipe.  chicken noodle soup
chicken noddle soupchicken noodle soup

chicken noodle soup

How to bias cut

bias cut dress

I have made a dress using bias cut as I bought a horizon patterned fabric online. What I was thinking?!! It is something I don’t normally do as most patterns don’t normally recommend cutting on bias. Therefore this post is on how to bias cut for making a dress.

This post does contain affliate banners which means I make a small commission at no cost to you should you decide to click thru and make a sale. For more in depth details click here. 

bias cut bias cut

An alternative for horizontal pattern fabrics

I didn’t want to have a horizontal pattern dress as it will make me look fatter than I am actually is. It is an amazing cut as it allows the fabric flow on the body better that the usual straight grain cut.

Therefore it is recommend for dress fabrics. I am using silk crepe fabric. Bias strip is use in a lot of bias strips cut as it allows the most stretch.

It is also recommended in making wedding dresses as well. For example the famous Pippa Middleton’s bridesmaid dress for the royal wedding a few years back.

bias cut on dress bias cut on dress

However, it does use more fabric than usual I got about 3meters X 1.4meters fabric compare to the recommended fabric on the pattern 2.6meters X 1.4 meters. Something to keep in mind.

It is easy to cut the fabric on bias just fold the fabric at 45 degree angle (you will end up a triangle) like below. One tip is always to leave enough seam allowance for the back panel. If you used to cutting dress patterns on a  straight grain fabric(like me), when cutting out the back panel I always put it by selvage (edge of the fabric). This is where there is always extra fabric at the edge however not a fold. So it is something to keep in mind when using bias cut.  I did make a mistake this time but I did manage to rectify it.

By putting on selvedge helps in cutting out  as it doesn’t fray at all. It saves the need of overlocking the fabric.

bias cut bias cut

I just love the flow and look of the end result. Dress pattern is from a recent burda style pattern magazine in which I love to use. Bias cut works with any dress patterns. So not just burda style.

In summary I would like to recap on how to cut on bias. By making sure there is always enough fabric, and leave some seam allowance on the fold. It does use a bit more fabric than usual but the end result it’s fantastic. So do give it a try if you haven’t. If you have do leave some comments below.

bias cut

This is the result of the dress I made back view.

cutting on bias

how to do bias cut

bias cut bias cut

bias cut

how to bias cut
bias cut for a dress

Making sun dried tomatoes

It’s nearing to the end of tomato growing season. I have made sun dried tomatoes by using the oven. It’s too cold at the moment to dry the tomatoes in the sun as the temperature has plummeted recently to average daytime 20-16 deg cel here in London.

The process of making sun dried tomatoes is not as complicated as it sounds. All you need is to slice the tomatoes into half place them face up and dry them in the oven at 120 deg cel for 2-3 hours depending on the size of tomatoes. The smaller ones dry up much quicker in the oven than the bigger ones. If the sun is still warm around just leave them out in the hot sun for two days and bring them inside at night. It is as simple as that. Just make sure you do check on the tomatoes by 2 hours as you don’t want to burn them. They will turn into a rustic red, brownish hue. If it’s turn black colour then it’s burn.

It’s a bit like making Sweet potato crisp recipe where one also uses the oven. It’s a way to keep tomatoes longer. It will change to intense flavour as a result. If you like after cutting the tomatoes you can add some chopped garlic, oregano, ground black pepper and a bit of salt to flavour the sun dried tomatoes. Some recipes do recommend drizzling with some olive oil but I have sun dried them without. You can then put them in sterilised preserving jar (eg. like Kilner) and fill in up with olive oil. They can kept for up to 6 months. Mine just finishes within 1 week so I don’t put them in sterilised jars.

The varieties have used to sun dried tomatoes are San Manzano and Artisan bumble bee and they taste lovely. It just makes the flavours especially the artisan bumble bee tomatoes more intense compare to eating them raw. I have also tried oven drying the yellow sungold cherry tomatoes and they taste just as good as other varieties. Whatever variety or type of tomato you choose to sun/ oven dry do keep in mind that tomatoes do shrink a lot during the drying process.

sun dried tomatoes