Product review: Herbarium Book

So I was lucky enough to receive a very exciting, new book through the post the other day- Herbarium by Caz Hildebrand for Thames and Hudson. I unwrapped it and found this below!


So with enthusiasm and eagerness and flicked through the book! It is a very useful guide to all things herbs and I think it will be a quick reference book for me to use both in the garden and in the kitchen. I first noticed that it looks modern, crisp and has bold, bright pictures that add to the book. Then once flicking through it in more detail I realise that it is going to be so helpful for my foraging for herbs (such as Dandelion) too! It has a very easy reference section to use and lots of interesting snippets of quotes and historic facts to add to the reading experience.

One of the main things I loved about it was that it not only provides you with ideas for the kitchen and how to cook with the herb; but also it has information about how the herbs can be used medicinally or for beauty reasons.

The section at the back entitled ‘Everyday Herbarium’ is very informative and easy to access including sections on the symbolism of herbs, herbs for well-being and more importantly herbs which taste perfect in accompanying cocktails!


Overall, I thought that this newly published book Herbarium was a fresh idea for a reference book with more substance than a classic gardening or recipe book – I will be using it a lot for smallholding, the garden, the kitchen, beauty, remedies and more.

If you want to learn more about this book or other books by Thames and Hudson (such as the Geometry of Pasta) click here:

Katy, The Good Life In Practice xx

The Good Life In Practice Recipe: Foraged Nettle and Goats Cheese Tart!

So this week I have been foraging lots of free nettles!

Nettles are similar to Spinach in taste once boiled, and do not sting once cooked! Also they contain lots of iron and vitamins that are good for you too : ) You can eat all of it including the stems but they can sometimes be tougher if they are older plants. I found the thicker stems to taste more like asparagus stems.

I like them as a foraged food as most people can have access to them, its totally free and they are easy to identify and use in cooking. I will post some soup and pesto recipes too soon. (N.B Ensure to wear thick gloves when picking them and use scissors to snip off as required. And again as with most things – if you have not tried before only eat in small amounts to begin with.)

Additionally, what is great about this is not only the Nettle are free but also we are using our own home grown herbs that we have in our garden! We have added our own chopped Chives and Oregano to the tart for extra taste!

Recipe (Serves 4): Ingredients:

-1 Roll Puff Pastry

-3 handfuls of Nettles (wash first in cold water and snip into pieces – removing larger stems if wanted)

-goats cheese (could use any cheese)

-a selection of herbs (we used oregano and chives from our garden)

-salt, chilli flakes


  1. Preheat Oven to 180’c.
  2. Put the Nettles into boiling water in a pan and boil for approx 10 minutes. Drain and sqeeze as much water out of the Nettles as you can.
  3. Roll out your puff pastry onto baking paper on your oven tray.
  4. Place nettles onto the puff pastry, spread evenly. Then crumble on as much goats cheese as you wish – lots in our case!
  5. Sprinkle with a dash of salt, chilli flakes and the herbs evenly.
  6. Pop in oven for approximately 30 minutes and serve with a salad or new potatoes!
the oregano going strong!

the oregano going strong!

I found this site which has extra tips and advice on growing your own veg and herbs! plus good ideas for small area gardening such as sprouting salads and potato plants in small spaces.

The Good Life In Practice

Herbs and Progress

Just a quick update here-

We managed to go to a local garden/farm store to get more things for the new chickens-chicken wire roll for chicken run, a big bag of bio POL pellets and some bedding material.

Also I got some more herbs to add to our growing collection-but went for plants this time rather than seeds. We have Oregano, Chives and Basil added now! Look forward to using these for pasta sauces!

Whats more we have been getting underway with the fruit and veg patch-Michael dug and finished the third raised bed-have included a photo of the finished work!

Katy xx

The Good Life In Practice

Planting Seeds!

This weekend we have been trying to at least plant some seeds to get them started so we have some small plants to grow on and then transfer outside when it is better weather and Spring properly arrives! We are currently potting a number of seeds indoors every weekend in the hope they will begin to grow and be ready for the coming spring time. Also once they have grown a little we are aiming to harden off the plants everyday on the balcony to get them accustomed to the outdoor climate so we can fully plant them outside and have success!

In this last batch I had a great mixture of seeds to try:

Baby Leeks-provided by who have a great selection of seeds and plants! Also I got to use my new paper potter from them too-great fun and uses old newspapers to make free pots!

Some Electric Daisies (edible flowers) to zing up the allotment from who have a great variety of seeds including heritage seeds and James Wongs new collection.

Last but not least my Thyme and Rocket seeds to try from who sent me a great set including the name tags, seeds and a planting wheel to help me : )

Overall, I am very excited about testing this varied combination of seeds out-will keep you posted on which work best and how they get on growing and when we transfer some of them outside whilst others will be just as suited to the windowsill, wish us luck growing!

Katy : )

Guest Blogger: Fiona Doubleday-Self Sufficiency on a Scottish Island.

This weeks Guest Blog comes for Fiona Doubleday as she writes all about her decision to leave the rat race and move to the Island of Arran in Scotland and become more self-sufficient and grow their own!

We moved to the Isle of Arran off the west coast of Scotland in search of a different life.  We have four children and we wanted them to enjoy their childhood in a truly magical place.  That is exactly what has happened.  Our eldest is now at university in England but the other three are still trundling through home education as they find their way in life.


We are fortunate to live on a ten acre smallholding which we use to grow herbs, cut flowers and willow.  Growing is our passion and the whole family has been involved in each and every stage.  We grow potted herbs for sale in local shops but that is only the beginning of the story.  Our focus has always been to add value to the herbs that we grow.  Using various drying methods we dry the herbs to use in our own range of craft products that are inspired by the island.


We make fabric based scented products using our own herbs and we partner those with natural candles using soy wax. We sell our products at local markets, in island shops and online through places such as etsy.


I also work creatively with cut flowers for special occasions and run courses.  Many of the islanders have more than one job and we are no different.  My husband works for two local businesses and I write part time.  My latest writing assignment is a daily blog for the whole of 2013 which aims to capture what life is like as a mum living on a Scottish island.  Arran is a truly magical place but not always calm as we do get some pretty shocking weather but that is part of island living.  I am not sure we would have it any other way.