Monday, 20 December 2010

Reindeer food

I read about this nifty little trick on a parenting website and thought it was worth sharing here. My niece is coming up for three years old and I thought she might appreciate it!

Don't tell the little ones, but it's just a box with some cat biscuits in the bottom! I've also heard of people doing this with oats mixed with glitter, but I thought my sister might have a bit of explaining to do once that didn't disappear from her tiny front garden overnight...

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Not your typical snowy scene...

I had to grab my camera while we were snowed in last week to show you photos from our street, while it was unusually quiet in the middle of the day.

Look a little closer...

The rabbits usually live in the field next to the cooperage (those pointy-roofed sheds in the background, whiskey fans!), and that cat is the hardiest domestic animal I've ever known - at the time of taking this photo it was minus 11 degrees C. Plus it's tried to eat my ginger cat twice in the six months since we moved in!

Sunday, 12 December 2010


It's cold here! I hope it's warmer where you are... and if not, that you're wrapped up warm with a nice mug of cocoa.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Most Haunted

So here in detail are some of the products I've splurged on over the last couple of years at Haunt. I was introduced to Haunt when Erin was Etsy's featured seller for a weekend. Being a bit of a fan of seller interviews anyway (have I mentioned my Answers on a Postcard zine...?), I'm always a bit of a sucker for the products associated with the featured seller interview, especially when Etsy focuses on established rather than new sellers.

It seems as though Erin's friendly and down to earth interview chimed with many Etsy shoppers, not to mention her beautifully presented products with intriguing descriptions, and sales went through the roof. Literally. In the space of a weekend, Erin made something like 3000 sales. This is not an exaggeration. Enhancing the luxury problem at hand, I joined in and made my first purchase - it was a biggie! In late 2008, I decided to stock up the hunting lodge I had rented for my hen weekend with Haunt products. With 3 bathrooms and 12 guests, I splurged on 3 soaps (Raspberry Honey, Corsair and Pan), 3 sugar scrubs (Mintleaf & mocha, Spiceberry and Marzipan & Shortbread) and 3 glossing oil sprays (Bourbon Vanilla, Empire and Orange Blossom) - I also asked Erin for sample sizes of 12 different soaps for my friends' goodie bags - these included Bittersweet, Pumpkin Lavender and Turkish Cocoa.

I like to break down the three different types of scent that Haunt produces into three categories, Fruit-y, Cake-y and Haunt-y. The fruity scents, like Orange Blossom, The Old Cider Mill and Spiceberry are clean yet warm fragrances, with a zesty but warm feel. The cakey type ones you feel like you could eat then and there in the shower, especially the ones with a pumpkin flavour to them. I like to keep a tupperware with a bar of Pumpkin Lavender soap in my overnight bag for work trips, as it's such a warm, comforting and homely scent. I am also very impressed with the Coffee Fiend flavour haunt scrub I have on the go at the moment, it's the next best thing to having an actual coffee in there to help me wake up.

The fragrances that I'd describe as Haunty like Corsair, Pan and the newer Burying Tree and Witch-Wife are a really unusual blend of botanicals that are somewhat indescribeable - in a good way! They're so different to anything else I've used in the past, and can sometimes take a little getting used to. For ages I really wasn't sure about the sample of Sword and Lion as a fragrance, but now I'm tempted to buy some glossing oil in this scent if it's available in the next Haunt sale.

Now I realise I've spent a lot of time talking about fragrances and how good these products smell and make you feel, but I've said nothing about how well they treat your skin! The soaps are amazing, they are lovely and chunky and wash down nicely, holding their shape and never cracking or drying out. And of course they do the same to your skin, most of the time I don't need to moisturise after using them. The sugar scrubs are a revelation, I'd never tried one before and the mix of sugar with natural oils does wonders for any rough patches you might have - and with the weather we're having in Scotland at the moment (-19 C yesterday at my house!), they are sooo handy. I don't tend to use moisturiser as it just sits on my skin and takes up time I don't have in the mornings, but the dry oil sprays sink straight in, soften my skin without making it feel greasy (unlike moisturising lotions). I don't use lip balms but have bought Haunt Lust lip balms in the past for friends and my husband, who suffers from dry lips and has found it works better than reliable high street names. There are more new products in the latest Haunt line which I can't wait to try out, if they're anywhere near as good as my old favourites!

Speaking of which, the next Haunt sale starts this evening! Previews of new products in brand new packaging will be up on the new Big Cartel Haunt shop from 9pm UK time, and the shop will open at 2am our time. It's your perfect opportunity to pick up a little present for yourself, or to add to your Christmas gifts. If you're catching up with me later and you've missed out this time, hop over to Erin's blog to find out about future sales. They are few and far between, and I promise you, all the fuss is worth it!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Sneak peek on Christmas presents

Now that Amelia is starting to nap a little bit more consistently, I'm getting the chance to finish off projects I started ages ago.

Without giving too much away, this Christmas present needs buttons... but which set?

These vintage buttons from Canada look like teeny little olives.. too cute!

But I like the contrast of the green yarn and these fawn-coloured flower pattern buttons...

Or these shiny pale green beauties, which I'm a little reluctant to say goodbye to just yet...

What do you reckon?

Monday, 6 December 2010

Gift wrapping hints and tips - recycled!

Can you believe it's been a year since I was on TV showing how to decorate your parcels the upcycled way? Here's a timely reminder of my ten top tips, originally published on the Glasgow Craft Mafia blog last year, with my apologies for the dark photos:

1) Do your maths!

If you measure the longest side of your parcel, you need seven times this measurement in ribbon to create that wrapped finish – measuring before you start means you only cut off what you need each time.

2) Use your odds and ends

You can dress a plain box with that annoying last strip of paper from the roll that otherwise would go straight into the recycling. Or use your odds and ends, a couple of dabs of glue and some plain card to make a co-ordinating gift tag.

3) Think outside the box

Present too difficult/fiddly/awkward a shape to wrap? Stick it in a bag, pop a glittery bow on top, job done. Life’s too short to wrestle sticky tape.

4) Raid your tree

A teeny little bauble, felt stocking or even a handknit ornament look cute and pretty on top of your packages. And the recipient can pop them on their own tree, instead of in the bin, once the presents are all opened on Christmas morning. Or how about using mini tinsel instead of ribbon?

5) If you aren’t artistic – cheat!

There’s no shame in not being able to draw – I was kicked out of art classes at school and still managed to make a bit of a career of it! My top tip for Christmassy themed tags is to use Christmas cookie cutters as a template – just draw the outline onto a sheet of double-sided card (plain one side, patterned the other), cut out, punch a hole and you’re away.

6) You don’t need to buy fancy materials

See those cookie cutter tags I just mentioned – you don’t even need to buy the card. Use pretty packaging from toiletries or chocolates, pick up some vintage packaging from eBay, or do what we all did when we were little, use last years Christmas cards!

7) Shop from your sewing box

Great alternatives to ribbon can be found in your sewing box, or your local haberdashers. Lace trim, embroidery thread, bakers twine, even fancy yarn can make a cost-effective and visually interesting alternative to expensive glossy ribbon.

8) Use what you have

As well as re-purposing or upcycling other materials, don’t forget all those bits and pieces you have stashed away from last year. A fresh glance might inspire you to add a different type of ribbon, trim down your tags into another shape, or pop your gifts straight into the kids’ stockings, to cut down on the sheer amount of waste Christmas time can generate.

9) Do away with gift tags

You can pick up loads of letter stickers and other embellishments from shops which specialize in scrapbooking, card making or journaling. Think about adding the gift recipient name to the side of your package in stickers, or you can even cut letters out of the newspaper and stick them to the side of your gift, ransom note stylee. This is especially good for Secret Santa presents, where no-one needs to know who it’s from!

10) Have fun

Get together with friends for a gift wrapping party – a couple of glasses of something merry, a cheesy Christmas soundtrack, enough scissors and tape to go around and all your crafty ideas for making your presents stand out should make for a very festive evening. Pooling your resources will help your supplies (and your money) go a lot further!

Hop on over to my Flickr for more inspiration and lots of lovely brown parcel paper! It seems I've found a kindred spirit in a guest post over on Lupin's Bugs and Fishes blog - brown paper, check! Raid the Christmas tree, check! Use your crafting supplies, check! Good to know I'm still on trend this Christmas, too. I'll be wrapping and uploading some new photos of this year's gifts, both in their packaging, in the next few weeks, and out, once the 25th has passed.
Happy wrapping!

Monday, 29 November 2010

Butcher Boy's Christmas Fayre

Are you in Glasgow and free on Saturday 11 December? Beat the usual festive rush at the shops AND get to see one of Glasgow's finest acts at the gorgeous surroundings of the Mitchell Library.

My friend (and former DJing partner in crime, fact fans) Alison has organised this event showcasing her band at the Mitchell in a couple of weeks. I'm going to try and make it over there, snowfall permitting, and the full details are as follows, below.

Time Saturday, December 11 · 11:00am - 4:00pm


Location The Mitchell Library
North Street
Glasgow, United Kingdom

Join us in the beautiful Jeffrey Hall (top floor) for arts and crafts, home baking, face painting, raffles, and music from Butcher Boy and the Power Cut Choir.

The Fayre runs from 11am til 3pm.

Butcher Boy will play from 3pm til 4pm.

Entry is £1 for the Fayre only or £5 for the Fayre including the gig. Under-10s get in free!

All proceeds will go to the Beatson Institute and the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

A long weekend at Craiglush

Every year around Thanksgiving time, I get away into the Scottish countryside for a long weekend together with my closest group of friends. This year we stayed in a lovely house with floor to ceiling windows over both floors, right on the banks of Craiglush Loch, near Dunkeld. For those of you who know your Shakespeare, we were right near Birnam Wood.

It was lovely to involve Amelia in our little annual tradition, and we managed to go the whole weekend without keeping everyone awake at night!

This is the view from our bedroom terrace every evening at sundown...

If anyone is interested in spending a weekend or a week at this lovely private location, drop me an email and I'll put you in touch with the friendly owner.

With all the extra hands available, I'm also delighted to report that I managed a little bit of knitting - it's a secret Christmas present project that I'll share with you all soon.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Just like Christmas

Oh I love receiving parcels from Haunt! Haunt is my favourite supplier of bathtime goodies - even more vital now that bathtime is my only me-time! Due to the immense popularity of Erin's wonderful shop, it now opens at limited times during the year, and I like to stock up while I can.

Haunt goodies are such a treat, you can smell the rich autumnal fragrances before even opening the package. To add to the Old Cidermill Glossing Oil, Golden Pumpkin and Coffee Scrubs, and Pumpkin Lavender soap I currently have lined up next to my bath, I picked up some of Erin's newer products.

Each product was individually wrapped with such attention to detail - even down to a wax seal on a sample of fragrance that Erin so kindly included as a gift. And of course the packaging is all on my favourite Autumnal colour spectrum, lots of lovely brown!

The soaps look good enough to eat, don't they?

And of course the joy of buying handmade is that everyone is just so lovely - as a repeat customer I love to be remembered, and as a mum, I love it when the littl'un is remembered too. Thank you so much, Erin!

I'll be back with some in-depth reviews of these products as I break into them - they are too good not to share. Bookmark Haunt's shop on Etsy now, so you don't miss out next time the doors creak open...

Friday, 12 November 2010

Glasgow Craft Mafia at Inver Cottage this weekend!

Read all about it over on the Glasgow Craft Mafia blog. It's a great place to visit - Inver Cottage is in a beautiful location and makes the best food ever - and getting a chance to do some early handmade Christmas shopping is a fantastic bonus!

Sunday, 7 November 2010


I was so excited to go to the launch of Supermercado yesterday, bundling Amelia into the car in the hopes of catching up with some familiar faces and getting a head start on the Christmas shopping, too. Sadly it wasn't to be, and turned into a bit of a catalogue of disasters.

We set off on our girly shopping trip and headed for Glasgow's East End - I wanted to nip into our flat, and also had to visit a shopping centre to pick up a specific thing I'd meant to get on Tuesday and totally forgot. We checked the weather forecast and the football schedule before setting off at noon - kick off was 3pm and and it was supposed to be dry. The plan was - flat, shopping centre, park up at Glasgow Green and hit the Barras.

Halfway towards Glasgow, the rain started to descend by the bucket load, and I decided it was going to be too much of a pain to nip and in out of the flat - a five minute job had turned into a twenty minute pushchair/car seat rigmarole. So we headed straight for the shopping centre, did what we needed to and hit the road again. We eventually got parked up at the partially flooded Glasgow Green and right on cue, the rain started to let up a bit and I grabbed the baby backpack to save putting up the pushchair again. And then Amelia did a major technicolour yawn all over her clothes. There was no way we could continue shopping, and I learned a valuable lesson about keeping a spare change of clothes in the car for in future.

I briefly toyed with the idea of heading back to the shopping centre to pick up a spare outfit for Amelia, but it was five to three at this point, so instead of having a lovely walk and shop while the traffic cleared away, we ended up heading in the opposite direction, back onto the motorway and decided to make the trip to Supermercado another day. Possibly with back up in the form of Daddy, as our former local, West, is only across the way.

For more information on Supermercado, check out the Made in the Shade website, or visit the Barras!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

More charity knitting

Aaargh! I just remembered that I knitted up a bunch of hats for the annual Innocent Big Knit, while I was unable to do much else in the latter stages of being pregnant. Luckily, Innocent extended their deadline for submission this year until THIS FRIDAY. Here's part of my contribution ready for the post, with a couple of pairs of gloves to show you where the leftover yarn for two of my favourite little hats appeared from!

I don't think I'll be doing much knitting for a little while, so I was delighted to see this donations box at my local health centre. They are crocheting a great barrier reef to raise awareness of fibromyalgia. I've donated a small bag of yarn to help them on their way - my crochet skills are still non-existent, although I wish I had paid more attention when my friend Jo tried to teach me. One handed crafting might be the way to go with a little one in my arms!

p.s. I really am writing this at 5.45am - the joys of being a new parent!

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Shop update

Hello friends! I'm starting to realise there's a bit more to this having a baby malarky than watching her sleep peacefully while I crack on with a lovely bit of knitting.

In light of this, I'm going to extend the shop hiatus until the New Year, and see how we're doing then. As you can see from my lack of blog posts, and even the tweeting has slowed right down, it's taking. a while for me to adjust and to get into any kind of routine.

So while I'm here, I thought you'd like to know about a new Folksy shop, Creative Planet. My schoolfriend, Sue, has set this up following the recent birth of her little girl, with the aim of bringing beautiful but affordable handmade jewellery to everyone. And of course, Sue is now my crafting inspiration, as she is up and running just a few months after her baby arrived!

I've particularly got my eye on this Red Coral stretch bracelet for the Christmas party season - but Sue is in the process of adding more stock to her folksy shop all the time, so stop by for a look soon.

I'm hoping to be back in a week or so to share photos of the beautiful handmade gifts and cards we've received in the last couple of months.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

A different Amelia

I just noticed that one of my Etsy addictions, Made By Hank, has a new style of bag for her new shop over at Big Cartel.

How tempting!

Get yours here once they are back in stock...

Wednesday, 1 September 2010


Hopefully that last post was enough reading material to keep you going while I was away! I'm delighted to announce that my little girl, Amelia, arrived safely last Wednesday and we were allowed home on Saturday.

Since then it's been a bit of a whirlwind of activity here at GI towers, with not much crafting but plenty of baby fun. Isn't she lovely?

Monday, 16 August 2010

Recommended reading

I really enjoy being connected to other crafty types via Twitter. It's a great resource for finding useful information, and the ability to bookmark, or 'favourite' tweets is a feature I use on a daily basis.

Here are some links which I thought might be useful to share:

via @designsponge/@metropolismag: cool site that lets you find info on individual buildings in your area (architecture + design-wise)

via @thelifecraft KNITTERS! Are you capable of designing a hat? Have you seen this competition in aid of Mencap?
closing date: 31 August

via @justforfunhmn For you ladies (or gents) who cross-stitch, here is an online Celtic alphabet chart generator:

via @wildcatdesigns Useful, detailed blog post on calculating yarn requirements for a knitted garment

and also via @wildcatdesigns Check out the Edinburgh Festivals 2010 Craft Trail map!

I also stumbled across a couple of blogs I had to share: the first being a post about the most amazing party ever over at My Life My Loves: and the second being the home of this weekend's featured seller over on Etsy, Aunt June, who blogs over at I couldn't resist picking up some of this fantastic fabric for a new project that I am very very excited about, and Lauren, who runs the shop, is a complete doll. I wasn't surprised at all that her blog was funny and sweet and bursting with colour and ideas.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Yum yum yum

One of the best things about being on Twitter is hearing about competitions. I think I've hit my third time lucky with this latest score - enough breakfast cereal to last me until the end of the year!

I won a competition hosted by @sew_pretty, to win cereals made by @dorsetcereals - which is the brand I buy anyway, and best of all - I had just run out! As if that wasn't enough, I also discovered a great new blog to read, Mary Poppins, and a fantastic maker of pretty homewares as Polka Dots and Posies.

I had to share the photos of unpacking my delivery this morning - such luxury, especially as I *really* don't feel like leaving the house any time soon - definitely not long to go now!

Monday, 9 August 2010

Shhh - a secret project!

I'm finding myself getting more and more into embroidery. It's so easily pick up and put downable, and I'm especially enjoying this particular project because it's a lot like colouring-in. So relaxing! So little brain work involved!

I'll have to keep this project a bit of a secret for now as it's one of a series I'm doing as wedding presents for the three upcoming weddings that we're having to miss while we wait for the baby to arrive and for everyone involved to return to full health. The last wedding I went to was at the end of May and I spent most of the day sitting very very still, before heading off to bed at 8pm in a lot of pain. So you can understand why I don't fancy doing it all again, but with a tiny baby in tow. All I'll say for now is that the project was inspired by this one, over at the colourful blog of 14countess, as well as this one, where thanks to Penguin and Fish and my trusty 1963 pamphlet of stitches, I learned how to whip up French knots.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Last date for orders to be posted

I know I'm not giving you much notice, but after my second night with almost no sleep whatsoever, I've decided that tomorrow will be my last shipping day before closing the Girl Industries etsy shop until well after the baby arrives.

I'll be back in October with hopefully some new products, some improvements to the shop and lots more new stuff to tell you about, too.

I'm going to try and keep up the blogging during the next couple of months, but I'm sure you'll understand if posts are a little few and far between. Answers on a Postcard subscribers will continue to receive their copies, and I'd still love to hear from anyone who wants to take part - you can email me using the address in the top right hand corner of this page.

If you'd like to take this chance to stock up on goodies from my shop, use the code 'sleep' in your notes to seller when you check out and I'll refund your shipping costs on anything you buy - so get shopping!

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

All about zines

And the July issue of Answers on a Postcard is here - pick up your copy in my Etsy shop quick sticks!

If you've ever wanted to put together your own zine, but weren't sure where to start, there's a great opportunity to learn the basics and get some pointers on where to find out more taking place in Glasgow this week. Fellow Glasgow Craft Mafia member, and long-time zine maker and collector, Marceline Smith, will be on hand this Sunday to speak about all things ziney. Alongside Jen Collins of Hello Jenuine, at the new-ish Glasgow crafts and art outlet Welcome Home, the zine workshop will take place this coming Sunday, from 2-4pm.

I'm so gutted that I'm too enormous with child to make it along, and hope that Marceline and Jen might consider re-running the session in future. I understand that a zine to accompany the day is being produced as I type, which you should be able to find alongside issues of Answers on a Postcard in the Asking for Trouble Shop.

Of course the quickest way to get involved in making a zine is to join in the with the Answers on a Postcard project. There are four issues remaining, and it's not too late to answer one or more questions in order to take part. All you have to do is drop me an email at katy [at] girlindustries [dot] com - I've skipped the punctuation here to avoid receiving lots of spam email automatically generated by machines - but just chuck an @ and a . in there to get your mail to the right place. Or leave a comment here and I'll be in touch!

Saturday, 31 July 2010

The dying art of Fair Isle

Photo courtesy of

It's funny what you can find out when you get up VERY early in the morning. Like today, when I caught a fascinating documentary about Fair Isle this morning, on Radio 4.

Fair Isle knitting, as a technique, originated in and has been important to the economy of the Northern Isles for generations. Its links with Shetland wool production, and the skill level involved, mean that its status has long been protected so that the tradition can continue. The documentary I heard, which you can listen to via this link, was prompted by the news that knitting will no longer be taught in local schools.

An interesting argument that was put forward by one of the Fair Isle knitters was that garments produced in this specialised and traditional way should be granted Fair Trade protection. To produce a jumper at around minimum wage levels would incur a price tag of around £700. This provoked a discussion about the challenge of educating the wider public on the pricing of traditional skills, whether knitting should be left to re-emerge simply as a hobby or gifting skill, or whether artisans should expect to have to take another type of part time work in order to subsidise the production of traditional garments. These are things I think about all the time when I'm knitting, so I was delighted to hear it voiced on national radio. It's only a shame that it was discussed shortly after 6am, when anyone with a choice in the matter is still catching up on sleep.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Win with Miss Baah

There's a fantastic giveaway taking place over at the blogging home of Answers on a Postcard contributor, Miss Baah.

Based here in Scotland, designer and maker Elspeth has a quirky Etsy shop full of jewellery and handmade purses and pouches. I know what I'd spend my prize money on if I'm lucky enough to win...

This awesome purse with lovely penguins all over it:

And how about this brooch - love the shiny tentacles!

Head over to the blog right now and help make Miss Baah's first giveaway a success - you've got until Monday 2nd August.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Treasury roundup

I've been featured in two lovely treasuries recently - themed Spring Chicken and Teenie Weenie - both over in Treasury East on

Huge thanks to Little Nester and Yellowee. Just click here to get your hands on a spring chick or mini envelopes from the Girl Industries etsy shop.
Updated to say: look at this nifty little trick from our friends at etsy - just click to find all the recent treasuries I've been featured in:
Fellow etsians can search for their own featured items by swapping out your shop name at the end of the web address.

Thursday, 22 July 2010

A little bit of housekeeping...

I've been tidying up around here. I do have grand plans to make more of Blogger's layout templates and other features for people who don't know anything about how the internet works, but in the meantime I've spent a short while putting a bit of effort into arranging my list of blogs into something that looks like order - check it out over on the right hand side there.

You can now find all of the blogging Glasgow Craft Mafia members in the one spot, as well as the blogs I check almost every day. And of course, I can highly recommend clicking on the logo of each of my followers, each of whom keeps a varied and interesting blog!

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Armchair travelling

I use a nifty little widget called Statcounter to see how many people are reading my blog, and whereabouts in the world they're checking in from. As well as seeing lots of familiar names of places I've been (Brooklyn, Ards, Sheffield, Munich, Eugene, Madrid, Providence, Dundee and more), there are a few places on the list that are new to me, so I thought I'd do a bit of armchair travelling and find out something new...

First up is Curitiba, Brazil - one of the cooler places to visit in South America. Not just because of its relatively mild climate, but also because of its enviable and sustainable public transportation. Local Etsy seller GlassGift is one to watch, too. Look at this fantastic sushi set, it's making me hungry...

And where better to head next than Shizuoka, Japan? In the shadow of Mount Fuji, the scenery here seems so much more dramatic than the Ochil Hills behind my house! This stunning photograph is by Altus, on Flickr.

Next stop on this impromptu world tour is Castellon, Spain. It turns out that this is pretty close to a part of Spain I visited in 2006, when I attended the famous La Tomatina festival, near Valencia. Here's a photo of one of my favourite prints at home, which reminds me of Bunol, Eivissa, Palma and just about every small Spanish town I've visited. If you like it, go to Blancucha's Etsy shop to get a copy for yourself.

I visited some pretty interesting places when I lived in New Jersey, but I don't think I ever made it to Verona. It's home to the charmingly named Kip's Castle Park, which was restored recently after falling into disrepair. The photo comes courtesy of The Keystone New Jersey, where you can find more information about the history of the house and the grounds.

Staying in the USA for the last stop on today's itinerary, we're heading west to Granite Bay, California. Notable as home to Eddie Murphy, I thought that a little look at the local real estate would be in order. I wasn't disappointed. For just under $4m, look what Real Estate Ground want to sell me....

Quick, someone, buy 5 million upcycled envelopes from me and help make my dreams come true!

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Making jam

While I've been home every day and not that mobile, I've been listening to a lot of Woman's Hour on Radio 4. I caught a programme the other week where Ghillie James talked about making preserves and decided to order her book online and see what all the fuss was about. I'm not a huge consumer of jam, mainly because I find it far too sweet, and the main thing that drew me to the book was a focus on fruit and flavour over sweetness.

Another big plus in the jam-making process is the small number of ingredients required. I stocked up on special offer punnets of strawberries (800g), raspberries (300g) and blueberries (300g), a pack of jam-making sugar, a jif lemon and an emergency bottle of Pectin - in case it was struggling to set. Raspberries and strawberries have a low pectin content, which can prove problematic. I loosely based what I was doing on Ghillie James' recipe for muddled berry jam, reproduced for the BBC, here. I didn't add orange juice, even though we have some in the fridge, because, you know, I'm 8 months pregnant and I have to make at least one mistake in everything I do at the moment.

Rather than boiling the backside out of your fruit, Ghillie James asks instead that you leave the fruit to macerate for two hours - this releases the juices from the fruits slowly, while keeping the integrity of the flavour, and hopefully some of the nutrients intact.

The first step in the process was to layer up all the fruit, and a few squeezes of jif lemon, with a pack of jam-making sugar. The sugar had the appearance of sea salt, lovely big solid crunchy grains. Yes I did try a bit.

Halfway through the macerating process. Looking good!

Next step: transfer to a heavy pan and simmer for 10-15 minutes. I used my trusty Le Creuset because I wasn't sure how much of a good idea it was to use aluminium with acidic fruits. I can't remember science very well from school.

The fruits start to break down as the mixture starts to bubble.

Next step, boil for 10-15 minutes, until the mixture reaches 104 degrees (and I left my sugar thermometer in my old flat) or until a spoonful sets on a cold side plate.

After five minutes of boiling, I have a mild panic attack for the wellbeing of my lovely range cooker. So I split the mixture into two pans. This may have been detrimental to the jam-making process but it made cleaning up much easier. See my sterilised kilner jars in the background? They're sitting in a bain marie so that I'm not pouring hot jam into cold jars. That's a bit of science I do remember.

So, after sort of getting the jam to a setting point, stirring in about a third of a bottle of pectin to be on the safe side, then reassuring myself with Ghillie James' book that jam continues to set over the next 48 hours, I decide after 20 minutes of boiling that enough is enough and ladle the jam into three jars.

And this is what I'm left with. The next day, the jam is still a little bit wobbly in the jars, but the taste test says I've done a great job. I comfort myself with the thought that this is more of a preserve than a jam, and a million times nicer than shop-bought.
If you enjoyed this post, you might want to check out Answers on a Postcard contributor Vonnie, of Blotted Copybook and The Life Craft, and her recent adventures in tablet making.