Our Monthly Journal
We're so excited to share another monthly journal written by the lovely Lola Jones, also known as @pocketfullofbuttercups on Instagram. Lola is a wonderful photographer and all round creator of beautiful content, raising her twin daughters Maya and Chloe & her baby Thea from her house near the Peak District. Each month she will give us a small glimpse into her world, inspiring you with activity ideas, recipes and more.
I really hope you are enjoying your summer so far. I adore this season - long hazy days, picnics, lots of time spent outdoors. We are eagerly awaiting the end of the school year to fully embrace summer and ditch any form of routine. But in the meantime I am making a list of things we can do with my girls. We hope to go to a local farm to pick fruits and maybe make our own jam, we’ll pick a windy day to go and fly a kite, we will make boats and sail them down streams and hopefully lots and lots more - I can hardly wait! Ever wondered how to make your own elderflower syrup? Take a look at our recipe and have a go at making your own in a few simple steps. In this month’s journal we also share a fun way to make art with your beach finds and a DIY puppet theatre.
As always we hope that you enjoy this month’s inspiration. Should you decide to have a go at any activities, we would really love to see them. Please tag us #inspiredbynelliequats
DIY PUPPET THEATRE
This was a much anticipated project that I wanted to have a go at for a while. Both of my older girls were very excited to see it come to life and since it was finished they have been playing with it daily.
A little disclaimer though - I am not very good at sewing or precision, but this didn’t stop me from giving this project a go and I do hope that it encourages you to try to make one, if you think this is something your little ones will enjoy. It really doesn’t have to be perfect, but the fun can be endless!
You will need:
- A large piece of fabric for the main part of the theatre
- Smaller piece of fabric for the curtains
- Ribbons for curtain ties
- Ruler or a tape measure
- Sewing machine (optional) or needle and some thread
First, decide where you will use your theatre. Will you hang it in the doorway or like me, you will place it just in front of a wall, hung on a piece of string? The doorway will determine how wide your main fabric needs to be. I had more freedom though and made it 150cm wide. The length of my fabric is 3 meters, but it is folded over the string, so only about 220cm is visible. I used a thick canvas fabric to avoid my window sagging and it worked- I did not have to use anything to frame the window. If you are using a thinner fabric, then you will probably need to use a thin pole to support the top and the bottom of your window.
Lay your fabric flat on the table reverse side up and draw your window (mine is 40cm x 60cm). Cut it out (keep your lines as straight as possible). I left my window as it is, but you could tidy-up the edges if you wish by adding a tape around it. Next make your curtains. Cut a rectangular piece that is slightly larger than your window and cut it in half. Then, using a sewing machine or by hand, make pockets in both curtains for a pole or a string your curtains are going to hang on. Next, finish off the visible side of the curtains by folding the edge inward (about 1cm or so) and stitch using a sewing machine or by hand.
Put your pole through the pocket you made for it in the curtains and attach it to the back of your window. I fixed it roughly by hand in three places (at both ends and also in the middle). Your curtain ties are next. I attached mine by hand slightly lower than the middle. As my main fabric is plain, I decided to decorate it with some gold glittery stars.
Then simply put your theatre up ready for play. Imagine the shows that are waiting to happen!
For some reason I always thought that homemade elderflower cordial is something complicated, but this year I decided to have a go at it at home. It turns out, it is so easy! You only need a handful of ingredients and the whole process is really quick.The cordial is so refreshing and perfect for warm summer days.
- 15-20 elderflower blossoms
- 1kg sugar
- 1L water
- 2 lemons, sliced
- Some jars (depending on their size you may need somewhere between 2 and 4).
Some recipes use citric acid, but it is only necessary if you are planning to keep the syrup for more than a few weeks.
Shake the flowers well so any insects that are still in there can escape. Bring the water and sugar to the boil and mix until all the sugar has dissolved. Let the sugar syrup sit while you put the blossom and lemon slices in your jars, then fill the jars up with sugar syrup.
Seal the jars and let them sit in the fridge for 5 days or so. Stir the syrup every couple of days.
Strain your syrup using a fine sieve or a muslin cloth, discard the lemon and flowers. Transfer your elderflower syrup into clean bottles or jars and store in the fridge. Mix with cold still or sparking water and some ice for a refreshing drink.
CREATING ART USING BEACH PEBBLES
During our recent visit to the beach we collected a number of various pebbles, sea shells and driftwood and decided to create some art with them. It turned out to be quite a fun activity - playing around with different shapes to see what pictures we can put together. In the end, we made a couple of butterflies, some flowers, a cow and a frog who is sitting on a log. For our butterflies we used stones for wings and a piece of driftwood for a body. For flowers - slimmer flatter pebbles for petals, a small round one for its centre and a tall piece of grass for the stem. To make a cow and a frog we assembled the pebbles first and then painted them with acrylic paints. What will you create from your beach finds?