Making Jars Pretty And A Jam Recipe

making jars pretty

Is jam special enough to give to somebody as a gift?

I love homemade jam. Fruit that you’ve picked yourself, warm and ripe from the sunshine, cooked up with some sugar and lovingly made into a little bit of heaven to spread onto a warm crumpet or a homemade scone. And not a preservative or additive in sight.

But will my kids’ teachers think the same at Christmas when I hand them a jar of homemade jam in a jar that clearly once contained pesto? Or pasta bake sauce? Or pickled onions?

Thankfully making jars pretty is just as easy as making jam!

Here is how to do both!making jars pretty

How to Make Jars Pretty

Please note that if you are going to make jam, you will need to sterilise the jars, so decorate them afterwards!

The jars and the washi tape I had already. Most of the other stuff I bought from Amazon. I’ve included affiliate links to the stuff I used.

Washi Tapemaking jars pretty

Cut strips of washi tape and stick them round the jar. You could stick them so that they overlap or leave gaps between them.

This is a great way to cover up a jar especially if you had difficulties getting the label off!

You can also decorate the lid with washi tape. This is very useful if you don’t want the recipient of the jar to think that the jam was made in Italy.

Starting with the middle, stick lengths of washi tape over the lid, leaving just enough to fold underneath.making jars prettymaking jars prettymaking jars pretty

Lace Tapemaking jars pretty

Very similar to washi tape. Just stick lengths of it round the jar. You could cover the whole jar or just use a bit.

Glass Pensmaking jars pretty

If you are artistic, you could probably have a lot of fun decorating jars. f you are like me and not so good at drawing, it’s best to keep things simple and practise your design on a piece of paper first.

I covered the lid of this one with a circle of fabric and tied it with a ribbon. A roll of sellotape proved to be a good size for a template!

Burlap and Raffia

Cut enough burlap ribbon to round the jar with a little bit extra to overlap. Take several strands of raffia and wrap it wound a couple of times before tying in a bow.

For the lid I cut a circle from a bag that used to contain flour and tied it on with raffia.

I think this one would be lovely with handmade smellies in it!making jars prettymaking jars prettymaking jars pretty

If you want to put jam in your jars, here is a recipe for bramble jelly!

How to Make Bramble Jelly

1. Collect your blackberries. You could buy them from a shop, but I find blackberries packaged up in plastic sad. Even if you live in a city, you will probably be able to find blackberries growing wild. Overgrown patches of waste ground is a good place to look.

You’ll need more that you think! But remember the rules for foraging: that you pick from all over the plant and leave some. Don’t be tempted to strip the plant! When I took the boys blackberry picking last week there were loads, and lots that were still not ripe.

BlackBerry picking

A photo posted by Anna (@annawilson77) on

2. Put a plate in the freezer. All will become clear later!

To sterilise the jars, check that they are clean and rinse them. Don’t dry them! Pop them on a baking tray and put them in the oven at 200 degrees c. Otherwise you can use them straight from the dishwasher.

3. Give the blackberries a wash and remove any little creatures, including children who are eating the blackberries.

4. Put the blackberries in a pan with a cut up apple. Don’t bother peeling or de coring the apple or removing any stalks from the blackberries. You’ll catch all those later! Cover with water, then heat it up. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes until it goes all squishy.

5. If you have one of those fancy jam strainer things, use that. Otherwise a muslin cloth or a piece of old net curtain over a sieve will do the job just as well. Put the sieve/ fancy jam thing over a bowl and pour the contents of the pan into it.

6. As a general rule for jam, you need pound for pound sugar and fruit. Here you are just using the juice, but the same rules apply. Measure the juice as you pour it back into the pan. You could use a measuring spoon (I used a half cup measurement) or you could use a plastic cup or a ladle. Pour the same amount of sugar into the pan.

The first time I made jam, I was horrified at the amount of sugar! However it is important to remember that it is the sugar that preserves the fruit and you’d just have a tiny bit on a crumpet anyway ;).

You can get jam sugar with pectin in it, but I don’t bother. Normal sugar works just fine.

7. Heat the juice and the sugar gently until the sugar has dissolved. Then bring it to the boil and let it boil away and it reaches setting point. This is usually a few minutes.making jars pretty

If you like to go about things in a scientific way, you might like to use a jam thermometer. The setting point is 121 degrees c.

If you don’t want to use a jam thermometer, you can do it the old fashioned way, which is where the plate comes in!

8. Drop a small amount of the jam onto a plate. Give it a few seconds, then poke it with your finger. If it wrinkles, the setting point had been reached. If it doesn’t wrinkle, let it boil away a bit more then try again. Keep going until it wrinkles.making jars pretty

9. Remove the pan from the heat and give it a minute or 2 to cool down a bit. Pour it unto your sterilised jars. Make sure that the jars are warm or they may crack. Put the lids on.making jars pretty

10. When completely cool, decorate the jars!

A Quick And Easy Shopping Bag Tutorial

shopping bag tutorial

Shops in England are now required to charge for carrier bags and this causes me a problem.

I know that carrier bags are bad in lots of ways. Litter, polluting the seas, killing turtles, biodegrading on the way home, life without carrier bags is probably better.

However, like lots of people, I have many uses for carrier bags. I use them as bin bags, for dirty nappies and for clearing up cat sick. I put wellies in them and I’ll pop one over the wheels of the buggy if they are muddy and I need to fold it up. I keep a couple of plastic bags in my bag for wet clothes and stones, feathers, pine cones and conkers. My plastic bags are all used more than once, even though I only usually use them once for shopping.

So I have always used new carrier bags for my shopping.

Thankfully this arguably first world problem is easily solved by doing some sewing. Yay! shopping bag tutorial

How to Make a Quick and Easy Shopping Bag

When choosing which fabric to use for this, obviously it’s going to need to be strong. Canvas or duck cotton would be a good choice. If upcycling is your thing, an old table cloth would do.

If you do choose to use lighter fabric like polycotton, you could either line it or just use it to carry stuff that is not too heavy.

1. Cut a rectangle of fabric. Good dimensions would be the same width as a Lidl bag (or other bag for life) and twice as long, plus seam allowance. Mine measured at 48 cm x 120 cm.

If you are using fabric with a directional print, cut 2 rectangles and sew them together.

2. If you do not have an overwhelming urge to cover everything in bunting, you can skip this bit and go straight to Step 3.

To make the bunting, cut a rectangle 9 cm x 10 cm. Fold in half lengthways. Cut diagonally from the folded corner to the corner opposite. Use this triangle to cut 5 triangles. shopping bag tutorialPosition them onto the fabric, allowing for seams. Pin in place, then applique them to the fabric. shopping bag tutorialSew a piece on of ribbon so that it covers the tops of the bag tutorial

3. With the right sides together, pin the side seams then sew them up. shopping bag tutorialTrim the seams. Finish the seams with zigzags, or an overcasting stitch if you don’t have an overlocker. This could be the difference between getting all of your shopping home and the bag breaking and veg and milk and stuff ending up all over the road!

4. To make the boxed corners, press firmly on the fold at the bottom. Squash one of the corners flat so that the seam is aligned with the fold at the bottom. Measure up 6 cm from the corner. bag tutorial Sew across the corner. Cut the corner off. shopping bag tutorialFor more detailed instructions for making boxed corners, visit this tutorial here.

5. Hem the top of the bag.

6. To make the handles, cut 2 pieces of fabric 40 cm long and 10 cm wide. Fold in half bag tutorial Then fold the outer edges into the middle. shopping bag tutorialFold in half and pin. Sew. I like to sew along both edges so that it looks symmetrical. Repeat for the other bag tutorial

7. Sew the handles to the bag. You will need to sew them on in a few places to ensure that they stay on when the bag is full of bag tutorialshopping bag tutorial

Now all you have to do is remember to take it with you when you go shopping!shopping bag tutorialshopping bag tutorialshopping bag tutorial


Heavy weight fabric will be strongest, but other fabrics can be made stronger by adding a lining.

Ripstop will make good bags that are both strong and waterproof.

You could make bags in different sizes.

Decorate them as you like to jazz them up.

If you will be carrying your shopping a long way, add some wadding to the handles and quilt them to make them more comfortable.

They make great last minute Christmas gifts and are a good way of using up fabric that you don’t know what to do with!
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What Gives Us Joy

what gives you joy

What gives us joy?

Obviously life changing events sometimes do. But I don’t mean those. I mean the little things that make your heart glad.

Everyday things that warm the cockles of your heart.

We all need these little things that bring us joy in the everyday. They remind us of why we do what we do and offer us a glimmer of sunshine on the greyest of days.

Here is a list of some of the things that give me joy.what gives you joy

An Undisturbed Cup of Tea in the Early Morning

I have to get up very early for this and I cannot be sure of getting it! It is an unfortunate side effect of having young children. When I do manage it, a whole cup of tea, while it is still hot, with nobody mithering for stuff or throwing a tantrum, it is bliss.

Wearing Clothes I Have Made Myself

For a crafty person who likes to sew, this goes without saying! I can walk down the street wearing something that fits me perfectly, in a colour and style that I like, knowing that the 24 other mummies I pass on the way will not be wearing the same as me.

Roads With Grass Growing Down the Middle

Perhaps it’s because I grew up in a city. I love how it makes a place feel remote ( even though not many places in the UK actually are all that remote). I also love it how nature starts to take over very quickly if it allowed to. My dad also likes roads that have grass growing down the middle.what gives us joy


I love bunting. I have bunting in my house, hanging off the outside of my house, on my blog header, to hang off the Christmas tree… I love it!what gives us joy

When the House Martins Come Back After the Winter

There’s a nest on the front of our house, under the eaves. These birds come back every year. One year they were late and I was worried, but they made it back. The sound of the chicks chirruping in the nest, for me, is the sound of early summer.


Living as we do in the fens, it is very flat. Seeing a hill is rare occurrence. Our nearest hill is 4 m above sea level. It is little more than a bump. So I don’t see hills very often! When I do, these Bible verses from the Psalms always pop into my head:

I lift my eyes to the hills,
My help comes from there.
My help comes from the Lord
Who has made heaven and earth.what gives us joy

Rowan Trees

Like Quickbeam the Ent from Lord of the Rings.

Quickbeam is regarded by the other Ents as hasty because he takes less than two days to make a decision. He laughs at lots of stuff and whenever he sees a rowan tree, he lifts up his arms and sings.

I don’t lift up my arms and sing every time I see a rowan tree because that would be strange. I do like them though and just seeing those bright berries makes my heart glad.what gives us joy

Coming Home and Seeing a Wreath on the Door

It’s amazing the number of times I’ve managed to forget that I’ve made a wreath and hung it on the door. It’s a nice surprise when I get home to have something pretty hanging there to welcome me home.what gives us joy

Opening the Door and Smelling Dinner Cooking Away in the Slow Cooker.

I love this! Especially as it means I don’t have to cook because I’ve already done it. Yay!

Being Tucked Up At Home When the Weather Outside is Awful.

The wind is howling. The rain is lashing against the windows. The boys, the cat and I are in our cosy, albeit messy, house with the lamps on and the fire going. There’s nothing else like it.

What things give you joy?

If you are needing some assistance in finding joy in everyday things, I can recommend these books (affiliate links). I have read them and I love them! A puttery treat is a little thing you can do at home to make life nicer, then that little treat becomes a source of joy.
A Year of Puttery Treats

Scrumptious Treats For Vintage Housekeepers
More Scrumptious Treats For Vintage Housekeepers
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An Autumn Patchwork Cushion Tutorial

autumn patchwork cushion

Don’t you love it when random things inside your head suddenly join up?

Some stuff inside my head suddenly joined up the other day.

I love autumn. Actually I love all the seasons and I have a hard time picking which is my favourite, but autumn has an edge. The days are still warm enough to enjoy doing things out of doors but not so hot that you can’t move for sweating. The nights are drawing in, which makes it much easier to persuade young children to go to bed! And although we don’t really have beautiful autumns in the UK there is still lots of golden, red and brown.

So the other day, my love of autumn linked up with several other things. Firstly, with my cat Stripod. His beautiful ginger fur is the colour of autumn. And secondly, with the curtains in my front room.lined curtains tutorial autumn patch work cushion All the colours of autumn hanging in front of the windows when it is to dark to see them for real!

This realisation made me very happy!

The happiness made me want to make something. An obvious choice was a cushion.autumn patchwork cushion

I’d seen some beautiful fabric on Plush Addict, which is currently my favourite online fabric shop!

I couldn’t decide which one I like the most. Hurrah for patchwork, the perfect solution for the indecisive!

Here is the tutorial for my autumn patchwork cushion. If you don’t want to make the pattern yourself, you can buy one here for £2.

An Autumn Patchwork Cushion Tutorial

You Will Need: paper, pencil, ruler, cushion pad, self covering button, 1 fat quarter each of 5 different fabrics.

Making the Pattern

1. Draw a square the same size as your cushion. Greaseproof paper is good for this.

2. Draw a line diagonally from corner to corner.autumn patchwork cushion

3. Decide how many sections you would like for each half. I opted for 7 for the vertical patches and 5 for the horizontal. I wanted the bits to be big enough so that I could enjoy the patterns on the fabric, and generally odd numbers of things look better.

4. You will have to do some maths at this point. Measure the diagonal line and divide by 7 (or by however many sections you are planning on having). Mark off each section along the line. Starting at each mark you have made, draw lines at right angles to the diagonal line so that you end up with 7 sections.autumn patchwork cushion

5. On the other half of your square, draw a line from the centre of the diagonal line to the other corner. Measure this line and divide it by 5 (or by however many sections you have decided on). Draw straight lines that cut through the second line and run parallel with the first diagonal line.autumn patchwork cushion

6. Cut the bits out. It’s a good idea to number them first!

If you don’t want to faff about with all of that, you can buy a pdf version of the pattern here.

Making it Up

1. Cut out your fabric, remembering to leave a 1 cm seam allowance round each piece.autumn patchwork cushion

2. Decide which half of the cushion you are going to work on first. Sew the pieces together. Trim the seams and press them open.autumn patchwork cushion

3. Repeat for the other half.autumn patchwork cushion

4. Sew the 2 sections together. Trim the seam and press it open. That’s the front of the cushion done!

5. The cushion has an envelope back, which is thankfully nice and easy to do.

Cut 2 pieces of fabric the same width as your front piece and about 2/3 as long.

6. Hem each piece.autumn patchwork cushion

7. With the right sides together, place the top back piece on top of the front section so that the sides and top edge are aligned and the hemmed edge is somewhere in the middle. autumn patchwork cushionPut the bottom section on top of that, with the bottom and the sides aligned. Pin, then sew all the way round.autumn patchwork cushion

8. Trim the seams and cut the points off the corners. Turn it out and stuff the cushion pad inside.

9. Make the covered button. For full instructions for doing this, visit this to make covered buttons autumn patchwork cushion

10. Sew the button to the cushion. I sewed right through to the back of the cushion.autumn patchwork cushion

If you like it, you could try making a few in different fabrics. I just have a crazy mishmash of cushions in my front room!

Here is an Amazon linky for self covering buttons…

and another for a 45 cm cushion pad. These are affiliate links.

If you liked this post, you might also like these.

A Winter Patchwork Cushion Tutorial

patchwork cushion

Pinwheel Quilt Block Tutorial

pinwheel quilt block
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10 Ways To Get Ready For Christmas Crafts Now

get ready for christmas crafts

Christmas always sneaks up on me. Ok, so the date never changes and I ought to be ready, but I never am!

It might be partly because all 4 of my boys have birthdays in the autumn and I tend not to think about Christmas until the Season of Birthdays is over. Unfortunately, by this stage, we are halfway through November!

I also don’t like thinking about it too early. I want to feel Christmassy, at Christmas, when it is cold. It is a hard thing to sustain if you have been thinking about Christmas since July.get ready for christmas crafts

So if, like me, you want to get organised for Christmas crafting without doing too much yet that feels Christmassy, here are some 10 ways in which you can get ready for Christmas crafts now!

10 Ways to Get Ready For Christmas Crafts Now

1. Start planning. What is your theme gong to be? Red and gold? Blue and white? Natural? This is where having a Pinterest board comes in handy!

2. Start collecting pinecones. These are great for autumn crafts too, so it doesn’t feel like a very Christmassy thing to be doing. If there are no pine trees near where you live, plan a day out somewhere that does have them. Even though we live in the country, there are not that many trees, so in a couple of weeks Boy 4 and I will be having a little trip off to the woods while his big brothers are at school.10 ways to get ready for christmas crafts now

3. Dry fruit. I love to do this! Dried fruit can be used to make garlands, tree decorations and wreaths. I’ve even given them as gifts. It’s very easy to do! Just slice some citrus fruit thinly and put it in a warm (not hot!) oven for a few hours. Full instructions for doing this can be found here.10 ways to get ready for christmas crafts now

4. Plan Christmas crafts for your kids. Also plan when you are going to do them. I always find that things get so busy in the run up to Christmas we end up not having time to do half the things I wanted to. This year we are going to start early and I’ll write it down in my diary!

5. Evaluate your Christmas fabric and ribbon situation. That way if you see something you need while you are out and about, you can get it then and be ready to make stuff when the time comes without having to brave the Christmas crowds or wait for the postman.

6. Identify where you can obtain greenery. It might be a shop. Or Sainsbury’s carpark ;). I know of several places near me where there is hawthorn growing in the hedgerows. I’ll be down there in a few weeks with my scissors ;).

7. Start collecting jam jars. Homemade jam makes for a great last minute Christmas gift. It’s very easy to make. Just weigh the fruit, chuck it in a pan with the same weight in sugar and a little bit of water and boil it until it starts to set. Pour the jam into sterilised jars. When it has cooled, put the lids on. Jam tastes better if it is left in the jar for a couple of weeks.

Jam jars have other uses besides holding jam, which brings me onto…

8. Create a Pinterest board of last minute handmade gifts. Stuff you can put in a jar is great. Sewing kits, brownie ingredients, sweets, bath stuff, natural things to make your house smell nice, there are lots of ideas on Pinterest!

9. Dig out stuff you have made or started to make over the last year and decide what you can give to people as presents. I have a glut of mug cosies! (If you want to give somebody a kit to make their own mug cosy, you can buy one here).

If you want to make more gifts, it’s probably never too early to start.

10. Start making a list of anything else you might need. Then you can buy the odd thing when you see it. Being organised is the key to having the most craftiest Christmas ever!

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