Recipe: Hot Spiced Buttered Rum – in an instant

When your toes need warming, and your mood needs turning, there is absolutely nothing better than a glass (or *small* mug!) of hot spicy buttered rum. It is sweet and smooth, and full of gorgeous hints of spice and butterscotch, which speak of good cheer, and all sorts of coziness (think roaring fires, woolly socks, drawn curtains, toasted crumpets…).

Buttered rum header

You can buy spiced rum to make this – but, frankly, I don’t recommend it – the spicing and/or the rum are often not the best. Another option is to infuse a bottle of great quality rum with your own spices. This can give you fantastic results, and is great to play around with to create your own flavours, but it can take from 24 hours to 5-6 weeks, depending on which method you choose, and what to do if you want buttered rum right NOW?

My solution is to make a quick spiced syrup (which takes minutes rather than days) to add to rum and butter. Even better, the syrup will keep in the fridge for up to a week, so gratification will be almost instant!

Buttered rum 1

Instant Hot Spiced Buttered Rum

  • Servings: enough syrup for about 8-10
  • Print

For the syrup:


  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • About 1/3 of a nutmeg (break it with a hammer or nutcracker)
  • 4 cloves
  • 6 peppercorns
  • 4 finely pared pieces of orange rind
  • 250 ml water
  • 200g granulated sugar (or a little less if you’d prefer a less sweet toddy)


Put all the ingredients in a pan and bring slowly to the simmer, stirring now and then. When the sugar has dissolved, simmer extremely gently for a couple of minutes, then turn off the heat and leave the spices to infuse for anywhere between 5 minutes to half an hour. The strain the syrup into a clip top jar or jam jar.  The syrup will keep for up to a week in the fridge.


For one serving of spiced rum:


  • 30ml golden rum
  • 45ml spiced syrup
  • 15g butter (most recipes suggest unsalted, but I rather like it with salted butter – it gives the drink a real salted caramel flavour)


Put the ingredients in a small pan and bring slowly to a simmer, whisking to combine. Turn off the heat as soon as the drink reaches simmering point. Pour into a heatproof glass or mug, add a little grated nutmeg or orange zest and drink appreciatively, smiling all the while.

Buttered rum 2

Giveaway: Patterns to Print

Do you want to be able to download sewing patterns, so you can get hold of them immediately, with no waiting around for the post or having to make a trip to your nearest sewing pattern emporium (and how many are there of them anyway?!)? Then you should definitely check out Patterns to Print – a web outlet for indie pattern designers of accessories, bags, clothes and quilts. Or to put it in a nutshell- it’s a one-stop marketplace for instant PDF sewing patterns.

The founder of the site is Samantha Hussey, of Mrs H Sewing Patterns – she had the extremely clever of idea of setting up a pattern download website to help designers deal with the tricky issue of new European VAT laws which came into force in early 2015 – so great for designers as well as their customers! Here’s one of Samantha’s lovely bag designs – the Companion Carpet Bag:

The Companion carpet bag by Mrs H

Other designers on the site include Diane Bohn who designs under the name ‘From Blank Pages’ and creates stunning paper pieced patterns for quilters, like this one called Candy Wrappers:

Candy Wrappers by from blank pages...

Amongst clothing designers, I really like Rachael Gander’s Imagine Gnats range. This cute Roly-Poly Pinafore Tunic is so adorable:

The Roly-Poly Pinafore by Imagine Gnats

And I am in love with this fabulous Modern Medallion Quilt by Two Little Aussie Birds – it’s a real stunner of a design:

The Modern Medallion Quilt by Two Little Aussie Birds

The happy news is that I have a giveaway prize of a £20 voucher to spend at Patterns to Print! Here are the rules:

  1. For one entry into the draw it would be great if you tell me what kind of patterns you would like to download from Patterns to Print.
  2. For a second entry into the draw you can like or follow Patterns to Print on Instagram, on Facebook, on Twitter, or on Pinterest – and LEAVE A SECOND COMMENT to tell me that you have.
  3. For a third entry into the draw – you can sign up to the Patterns to Print newsletter, and LEAVE A THIRD COMMENT to tell me that you have.
  4. Don’t forget to leave the extra comments if you follow steps 2 or 3 – I wont be able to give you your extra chances otherwise – sorry!
  5. The voucher giveaway is open to anyone in the world.
  6. I will make the draw on Tuesday 24 November at around 7pm GMT – so get your entry in before then.

So all that remains for me to say is…

good luck logo

Introducing my sponsors: The Sewing Directory

Sewing directory adI am so pleased to have The Sewing Directory on board as new advertisers with Very Berry Handmade, because I am a huge fan of the site, and am very appreciative all the work that Fiona Pullen and Julie Briggs (the partnership who own and run The Sewing Directory) do to create and maintain one of the best sewing resources on the web – especially for (but not limited to) us sewers here in the UK. It’s an honour to be associated with their brand (as us business people say!!).

I thought it would be fun to let Fiona and Julie introduce themselves and the fantastic Sewing Directory project, so I sent them some questions, and here are their answers. First up, let’s put some faces to names – here’s Fiona:


and this is Julie:


  • So Fiona & Julie, let’s start with a biggie which will also serve as an introduction – what do you think The Sewing Directory brings to the sewing scene in the UK?

Fiona: My goal when setting up The Sewing Directory was to save people time and bring together information about sewing businesses, free projects and sewing tips etc., all into one place to save people spending hours searching Google for it. Here’s my motto for the site:

Even as the site as grown over the years we still keep a big focus on that time saving aspect with features like the workshops databaseindependent pattern designers list and round up posts like this 50 fat quarter projects – all of which allow people to just visit one page to find what they are looking for. We also wanted to make it easier for people to find their local sewing shops and schools and support them whilst indulging in their hobby.

  • Although you founded the business Fiona, Julie is now a full partner at The Sewing Directory – how are you enjoying it Julie? How are you finding having a partner Fiona?

Julie: I love it, I’m really glad I made the move! When Fiona first discussed it with me I had no hesitation at all. I had known Fiona for years as editor of Sewing World Magazine. I knew how passionate she was about the business and how much it had grown over the years so it was an offer I couldn’t refuse.
Fiona: The site had grown to a point where it was no longer manageable by one person but I couldn’t think who I wanted to share it with. Then one day it came up in conversation with Julie and I realised she would be the perfect partner. I haven’t regretted it at all, it’s so nice to have someone else’s input in the business, to finally have time to sew and spend time with my family.

  • What roles do the two of you have within the business?

Fiona: Given her background Julie was the ideal person to be in charge of the content as content manager. Her primary duty is commissioning and adding content to the site but she also assists in other areas such as SEO (search engine optimisation) and social media. I remain the point of contact for customers because I already have a relationship with them,  and I also do the financial side as well as social media, marketing, SEO and admin. We both work closely together especially when it comes to decision making and working on plans for the future. We didn’t find it any issue working together, we just naturally became a team. It was almost as if it was meant to be.

  • The Sewing Directory has been around for 5 years now – what do you feel most proud of Fiona?

Fiona: The main thing would be how big it has grown, I had never imagined we’d be viewed by people all around the world and getting close to 100,000 visitors a month! I also love how well respected it has become within the industry, and how it’s become one of the UK’s top sewing sites. When I first launched I never imagined it would be so popular.

  • I know that you haven’t been there for quite that long Julie, but we’d love to hear about the work that you’ve been doing too – what do you feel proud of so far?

Julie: I’m very proud of how I’ve managed to make a tangible difference to the site in just a few months, increasing traffic and introducing an expanded range of content. My favourite so far is the huge independent pattern designers feature which took a lot of work but has been very popular. I’m very excited about the content I have planned for 2016.

  • I’m sure you have great plans for the future development of the site and the business – is there anything you’d like to share about how things will develop? What do you have in store for us?

Fiona and Julie: Now there are two of us we can really build on the content side of the site. We have lots of brilliant things coming up such as a hand stitching series, a machine embroidery series, garment projects (which is a new area for us) as well as some smaller makes like bags, purses and cushions. With two of us we no longer spend the majority of the time keeping up with the day to day work of running a business and can focus on growing and improving the site. We are also working back through older content, updating and improving it. Plus we have top secret plans to build the traffic to levels we’ve never seen before….


Thanks so much to Fi and to Julie for sharing their experiences with us. I can’t wait to find out what their top secret plan is – maybe we can have an exclusive reveal here at Very Berry ;-) ;-)

Winter Comforts: Textile ATC swap Sign up time

ATC 8 logo

It’s time to get thinking, plotting and making tiny stitches again! This is the 8th Very Berry Textile Artist Trading Card Swap, which feels like a fabulous achievement for all us swappers – thank you to all who take part and make this such a fun little swap!

**Swappers who have participated before – please note that this time round you can fill in the sign-up form direct from this blog post – you will find the link below.**

If ATCs are new to you – here’s some info about what all this is about!

ATC guide


Making an ATC is a way to be creative on a small scale, try out new techniques and skills in a non-threatening way.  All you need to remember for this particular ATC swap is that:

  • the swap theme is Winter Comforts
  • the card needs to be 2.5″ by 3.5″ (in either orientation)
  • the card needs to be mostly fabric
  • there must be a little bit of stitching involved. 
  • the card must not be too thick – no more than 1/8″ (3-4mm) please
  • you must put your name and date on the back of the card (plus title and email address if you like)

If you’re still a bit unsure of what all that means – why not check out the the Very Berry ATC swap group on Flickr, where you can see photos of cards made for previous swaps? Here’s the one I made last year for the Christmas swap:

Scandi cross stitch Christmas

  • Serious bit: Before signing up, please think for a minute whether you can put aside enough time to make something lovely and thoughtful for your swap partner, and whether you will be able to meet the deadlines. People who drop out of contact with me and don’t make deadlines without a good reason will be blacklisted from future swaps – I’m really sorry to have to do that, but I have to spend a lot of time chasing people up, and it’s not fair on other swappers.

Now the good stuff..

  • You will make 1 ATC and receive 1 ATC in return.
  • It will be a secret swap (you will not be sending to the person you receive your card from) so please don’t let your partner know who you are!
  • Your card must be the right size and fit the theme, be named and dated.
  • The theme for ATC swap 8 is Winter Comforts – please feel free to interpret that however you like!
  • You can sign up for the swap by commenting on this post and by completing this Google form by Friday 20th November. Partners will be assigned by the end of Monday 23rd November.
  • Participation is open to anyone anywhere in the world (the ATCs won’t be too pricey to send), so please be prepared to send overseas if you join in (but I will *try* to make exceptions if you are really stuck for cash… just let me know).
  • Cards must be posted during the week 25th – 31st January 2016 (or a little earlier if you are posting overseas and you can manage it).
  • Please do not include anything else in your parcel, except a note if you like!
  • Once you have received your ATC, you must get in touch with your partner to say thanks.
  • Please keep in touch with me and let me know when you have posted and received your ATC.
  • Although you don’t have to be a Flickr user to join in with this swap, it is fun for everyone if you join in with the community there, and share pictures of your progress and your completed card. Please try and do this if you can!
  • If you blog, use FB, Twitter or Instagram, please feel free to share your ATC swap progress, and definitely share pictures of the ATC you receive from your swap partner, if you can. Please use #veryberryatcswap to tag your posts.

enjoy logo