Seasonally inspired things to Learn, Make and Do


Warm rose petal and roast tomato harissa

I love the warm heat of harissa paste and find it endlessly useful – in marinades and salad dressings, as a sauce for oily fish or halloumi cheese. It is one of my store cupboard essentials.

In the summer, alongside general spicy harissas, I often make a rose harissa – a paste where a floral subtlety underlies the heat.

This recipe uses garden roses – the more fragrant the better – and roast tomatoes alongside the chillies and spices. It has a beautiful mellow heat rather than a ‘blow your head off’ spice. You can, of course, add in more chillies if you wish. Some people add garlic in, but I find it can be a little overpowering with the roses. You can also add in coriander seeds and paprika.

It is a great way of using roses that have been hit by a rain shower, alongside a glut of tomatoes.

Please only use roses that you absolutely know have not been sprayed with anything – this isn’t the time to use up shop bought flowers. You might also want to wash them carefully in case of greenfly or other bugs.


  • 300g tomatoes (this is about 8-10 decent sized tomatoes)
  • 150g red chillies – again, this is relative. I used six of the large fairly mild red chillies. It is all a matter of taste.
  • 1tbsp rape seed oil.
  • ½ tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 large handfuls of rose petals (when tumbled loosely into a measuring jug, this is about up to the litre mark. I used five full flowers)
  • 1tbsp rose flower water.
  • 1 ½ tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Olive oil


  • Oven
  • Food processor
  • Baking tray
  • Sterilised jar (the easy way to sterilise a jar is to put it through the dishwasher then use while still warm)


Preheat oven to Gas Mark 4/350F/180C.

Half tomatoes and put them and the chillies on baking tray, drizzle over the oil and swish it about a bit.

Cook in oven until the tomatoes are slightly charred around the edges. This will probably take around 40 minutes to an hour. Leave to cool.

Chop the stalks off the chillies and scrape out the seeds. Put tomatoes and chillies in food processor and pulse to combine. You can also do this with lots of chopping if you prefer.

Add in the sugar, spices, rosewater and the rose petals and pulse again. You want a chunky paste.

Finally, transfer to a bowl. Add in the red wine vinegar a tiny bit at a time, interspersed with a splash of olive oil. Mix and taste as you go.

You are looking for a warm spicy flavour, not too hot, not too acidic.

When you are happy with the balance of flavours, spoon into a sterilised jar and store in the fridge for up to a month.

You can also freeze the paste for up to a year – put it into ice cube trays, freeze and then decant into freezer bags for ease. You can then just defrost a cube or two you need them.

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This weekend the valleys were full of mist - great screeds of it swelling up as the afternoon lengthened and the air cooled.⁠⠀
This is a rescue horse who now lives a couple of fields down - if I happen to be passing his gate around 4, he is up  stretching his over it, looking for friendly scratches and food. ⁠⠀
A perfect time keeper.
It doesn't take much . . . . ⁠⠀
These stems were picked in the five minute walk from the house to the Studio.⁠⠀
A teasel head, some rusty dock seeds, a bleached shell of columbine, bright rose hips.⁠⠀
None looked very promising outside but indoors, tucked into test tubes, they look wonderful.⁠⠀
As they would in bottles . . . .⁠⠀
The rose hips are the last of the berries to go from the hedges - the birds strip everything else as soon as it gets cold, the elders and rowans first, then the haws.⁠⠀
Inspired by their bright longevity I have ordered a small clutch of rosa moyesii 'Geranium' - with their spectacular bottle shaped hips - to make an informal hedge down by the airstream.⁠⠀
My plan is to plant them amongst crab apples to keep back the dull green march of the Scots broom. ⁠⠀
I have honeysuckle in mind too.⁠⠀
This is the Studio - nestled into the dip of the valley, surrounded by wild meadow and trees.⁠⠀
At this time of year it is a cosy den, the stove lit, the fabrics piled up around me.⁠⠀
Today I am finishing off some large embroidered wool cushions and sending out lots of craft kits in the post.
This was taken last week when we had snow. You can see Dixie’s dachshund toy abandoned in a drift.
A winding path, a bare tree reaching up, blue sky above ribbons of mist, patches of scruffy frost in the rough grass.⁠⠀
I have walked this road more days than not this year.⁠⠀
It never gets old.
I said I wasn't going to make a wreath this year.⁠⠀
But then I saw one @talenamaria made on behalf of @jamjarflowers for the @papier Instagram feed and I was smitten.  The glorious mess of the hedgerow encapsulated in a twiggy ring.⁠⠀
The birch twigs from further down the grid were still in the hall  and I had some dried hydrangeas left over . . . .⁠⠀
(I also say I never watch video tutorials as I get distracted too easily and find that they are often too long - but Talena's is good and short and easy to watch and follow.)
A snowy gate, photographed last week, snow piled up on rungs and branches.⁠ ⠀
I loved how the field on the other side was completely untouched. ⠀
A fresh sheet of paper. ⠀
A new week. ⠀
If you want to make a little wool tree like this one the step by step instructions are now on my website -⁠⠀
If you want it to look exactly like this one, you can also buy a kit with all the bits to make three trees ⁠⠀
I first made these trees for a Country Living Fair in Glasgow back in the mid 2000s - raiding my button box for the decoration and dyeing old blankets for the wool. ⁠⠀
Sometimes I still see the trees from that generation appear on people's Christmas windowsills and it makes me very happy.

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At Snapdragon Life I gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.


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