Mothering Sunday is this week in the UK and in celebration of mothers everywhere I thought I'd share some things my lovely Mum has taught me.
1. Follow the pattern.
My mum was always sewing when I was growing up and she was the one who taught me what to do. I remember her taking me to pick a pattern and fabric to make a skirt, and then standing over me telling me how to measure, pin and cut. How to read the pattern, use the machine, press the seams. And you know what? It was perfect and I wore it for over ten years. It was a valuable lesson in learning from people more experienced than me and not just assuming I knew what I was doing! And when I wanted to make my wedding dress she made sure I did it properly and not just blindly cutting into the lace. That turned out perfect too, though I think she wishes I used a proper pattern and not one I drafted myself onto newspaper!
2. Just get it done.
You're at home alone with three children. Your husband calls from a military base in Northern Ireland to say someone is coming to buy the spare wheels in the garage. Fine... except they're attached to a car. What do you do? Well if you're my mum, you get the manual out, you get the children to pass the tools, and you get it done. What a lesson in feminism to me as a ten year old! She's taught me that there's really very little I can't do and that shows every day in my adult life.
3. Sometimes you've got to be brave.
When she was thirteen, my mum and her family sold everything, packed their lives into suitcases and moved across the ocean, from the busting city of Toronto to a small town in Wiltshire. When I was seven, with a toddler at home and a husband away at sea, she waved my brother and I off to boarding school. She's just started a Master's in education. In her life she's gone down a lot of tough roads and constantly made the best of it, with enthusiasm and hard work. That's pretty inspiring and reminds me that even when things seem scary and unpredictable, great things can happen.
4. People Matter.
I don't remember a time when I wasn't being taught about the importance of looking after other people. I grew up knowing that my friends would always be welcome, that family friends wouldn't be allowed to be alone at Christmas, that there was always an extra seat that could be crammed round the table for Sunday lunch. I recently looked through a box of old letters she sent to me at school and they're full of postscripts reminding me to look out for the other girls in the boarding house. Even now, with her time increasingly squeezed by work and study and volunteering, she's never said no to a baby sitting request and is always helping her colleagues out with bits and pieces. Her generosity is amazing.
5. How to make a killer sponge cake.
And finally - how to make the best cake known to man. They are light, fluffy and delicious... the woman can bake! And every time I weigh my ingredients, mix them together and put them in the oven, I think of her. <3
I often make her pretty little jars of blooms for her house so I wanted to share with you the very simple steps so you can give one to your Mum/Granny/Wife too!
DIY Flower Jam Jar for Mother's Day
Firstly find a pretty jam jar, I like the ones posh jam comes in for the interesting shapes. Take some beautiful ribbon or lace and tie a bow round the top.
Flowers - you'll need some flowers and foliage. Try the supermarkets or market for a big bunch of British tulips or narcissi. For foliage have a hunt in the garden or verges for evergreen foliage. I've used winter flowering clematis, leylandii, honeysuckle and pittosporum. Cut anything flowering in the garden too - we've got lots of gorgeous hellebores so I've cut a few stems, alone with the muscari and forget-me-nots that are popping up everywhere.
Start by filling the jar half full of water and begin to place the foliage in. Try to cut the stems so each piece is at least twice the height of the jar so the arrangement doesn't look too bottom-heavy. The foliage at the edges can be a little shorter than the middle pieces.
Once you've got a nice bunch of foliage in place you can start adding flowers. You can make it as neat or as wild as you like. If you've got several types of flower then make sure the colours are evenly distributed. Remember you can always cut a stem shorted but you can't make it longer! Once all your flowers are in check from all angles and fill any gaps with a bit of foliage.
Store somewhere cool and out of direct sunlight. Top up the water if it looks low or some of the stems don't quite reach.
If you're using tulips they will carry on growing when they're in water, so cut a little shorter =, or give them a trim before you hand it over!
Flowers are so expensive at the wholesale markets because of Mother's Day, especially pink ones. You'll get a bit more for your money by choosing brighter colours!
I'd love to see your jam jar flowers - please do tag me on instagram (@sarahhillflowers) if you make one!