Homemade Blackberry Jam

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Making jam is like meditation. There is also nothing better than a larder or pantry stocked full of delicious preserves for the year. Thanks to my neighbours, who have a prolific apricot tree and no desire to use the apricots for anything, and a bonza recipe from Stephanie Alexander, I have the jam-making bug. My repertoire extended this year to Mango Chutney, Tomato Kasoundi and this scrumptious, glossy and fruity Blackberry Jam. My dad, who lives in the Otways on the Great Ocean Road, picked my blackberries for me (I know – I’m very lucky!), but you can also use frozen berries from the supermarket or, when the season comes round again, go picking for berries in King Lake or another berry farm (google ‘picking berries’ for some good spots). Picking berries is a great thing to do on a lovely summers day and it’s a nice drive to the berry farms. So, here’s my own recipe for Blackberry Jam. It’s basically just the fruit with a whopping big bucket of sugar (but you can also add some lemon juice).

What You Need:

Frozen blackberries (or fresh!)

Sugar

ratio is 1kg of sugar to every 1kg of berries

A big pot

A wooden spoon for stirring

A ladel

A jam funnel

Some jars with lids

What to do:

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1. In a big pot, heat the frozen berries till they are melted, then simmer.

2. Add the sugar (I just free pour).

3. Bring to the boil stirring constantly them lower heat and simmer for about 1 – 2 hours. The longer the better. You can even cool it down and bring to the boil twice to thicken the juice. You can add a squeeze of lemon juice at this point, which has pectins in it, which makes the jam thicker. Stir the jam from time to time.

4. Place a little plate in the freezer while you are boiling the berry mixture. The best way to test if the jam is ready is to place a little amount of the jam onto the cold plate – if it crinkles at the edges, then it’s ready. I like my jam a bit runny, but simmer for longer if you want a thicker jam.

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5. While the jam is simmering, wash the jars in piping hot water, rinse, and then leave to dry.

6. Pop the jars (not lids) into a 180-degree oven for about 10 mins.

7. When the jam is ready, ladle into jars (you can purchase a jam jar funnel to prevent jam running over the jars).

8. Turn the jars upside down to create a seal and leave to cool overnight.

And there you have a delicious berry jam – great for you, for gifts or for sale at a market!

 

DIY Drinking-Straw Diamond Mobile

IMG_4769What You Need:

Some pretty drinking straws

Cotton thread

A skewer

(a hot glue gun)

What To Do:

Tie a length of cotton to the middle of your skewer and thread through three of the straws. Pull the cotton taught at the end to make a triangle. Tie off, but don’t cut off the thread – thread another two straws onto the cotton to make another side of the triangle and so on till you have completed the shape. You can always knot a new length of the cotton onto a point of the shape if you run out of thread. Also – if you just can’t be bothered – grab a hot glue gun and whack the triangles together that way. If you use hot glue, my advice is to start with a triangle base and make the upright triangle from that flat base.

Here is the mobile with some pretty lights I found at Ikea. Lovely! This would make a beautiful and magical light display in a children’s room or at an intimate and romantic dinner.

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African Interiors

 

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I’m loving African style right now. When you think about it, some of the most popular Australian homewares and furniture are inspired by the African continent – Mark Tuckey’s Egg Cup Stools, that gorgeous Cameroon headdress above Megan Morton’s fireplace or Lucas Grogan’s designer plates. See – you never knew how much you too loved African style. Africa is a vast continent, though, that encompasses the bright and magical style of Morocco and Egypt to the more subdued and classic interiors of South Africa. Mostly, though, it’s all about connecting with the exotic and the wild! Here are some ways you can incorporate African homewares and furniture into your own home. You can check out my African Pinterest board for even more inspiration:


Africa Article - image 1 a)

 

 

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Wood

You must have wood – big chunky wooden furniture pieces, wooden masks, urns, bowls and other wooden artefacts all help to acieve the earthiness of an African inspired home. Even a couple of wooden stools or just a cluster of wooden candlesticks can be enough of a nod to this style.

 

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Colour

As mentioned above, for a more Egyptian/Moroccan look try bright natural ochre, green and burnt red, or classic white with dark wood for a south African influence. This style is a versatile as you.

 

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Pattern

Another African influence is our love of animal hides and taxidermy. This is hugely African, but you can purchase ethically sourced animals (if that’s even possible) or choose wooden animal heads if the real deal makes you feel uncomfortable. Woven rugs in bright geometric patterns are also fabulous. Try black-and-white for a hint of zebra without the zebra!

 

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Decorative Elements

That Lucas Grogan plate? Imagine some wall mounted ceramics in a similar style? Gorgeous. What about a big earthernware pot at the front door for your umbrellas? Simple but effective. And if you have real African artefacts (mabe from your visit to the Serengeti) then these must be wall-mounted, too, or perhaps on display on a gorgeous sideboard (chunky wood?). There are lots of little ways to capture the excitement and mystique of Africa.

Image credits:

Image 1 – fentonandfenton.com.au

Image 2 – vivaterra.com

Image 3 – anindiansummer-design.blogspot.jp

Image 4 – habitusliving.com

Image 5 – thelittlecorner.tunblr.com