Our Monthly Journal

November 2023

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.

Oh how much I love the cosiness of November. For me, this is when winter arrives with family movie nights, lazy pyjama days, baking and an excuse to stay indoors a little more than we do during the other seasons. And this year I feel more grateful than ever to have a warm home to come to.
The excitement is gradually building as the children wrote their letters to Father Christmas and I hear now on a daily basis: “Oh I cannot wait until Christmas!”

For the final two journals of 2023, we will share delicious seasonal recipes for the whole family to enjoy, crafts to try with your little ones and inspirational gift ideas for the festive season.

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PINECONE FAIRIES & GNOMES DIY

Whatever the season, we always come home from our walks with pockets/baskets full of nature’s treasures. There are lots of pinecones on the ground at the moment and so we decided to make something with our finds.
This is a really sweet activity to do together with your little ones. I hope you have a go at it and love it as much as we did.

You will need:

- Pinecones
- Felt or wooden balls (the size of these should depend on the size of your pinecones,ours are 20mm)
- Pom-poms
- Leaves
- Acorn cups or dried hydrangea flowers (or shop bought craft alternative)
- Shredded packaging paper/wood wool or yarn for hair
- String
- Fabric squares
- Scissors
- Hot glue and glue gun

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To make a fairy, start by attaching a string to your felt or wooden ball (this will be the head of the fairy). Make a loop and tie a knot at the bottom. Next, using the hot glue gun, attach the head to the pinecone.
Then add the hair - this can be anything like shredded paper packaging, or wood wool or strings of yarn. I have used wood wool I had at home. Simply gather a few pieces together and glue to the top of the fairy’s head with hot glue. Next you can add a hat (acorn cap) or a flower. I had some dried hydrangeas at home, so this is what I used on my fairies.
Next attach the wings to the back of your fairy. Squeeze some hot glue onto the pinecone and add the leaves overlapping them slightly.
To make the gnome, start by attaching a beard to the pinecone with some hot glue. You can use the same material you used for the hair of your fairy, but I used a little piece ofinsulation material I had at home. Then add a pompom for the nose and finally a gnome hat. I had some swatches laying around at home from various projects, so that is what I used. Simply fold the material into a cone, sit it on top of your gnome to check it fits. Once you know where the tip of the hat is going to be, unroll the hat again and add a string that you will use to hang the gnome with. Attach the string to the inside of the hat with a little glue, then fold into the cone again and glue the sides together so it stays in the shape you want. You may need to trim it a little if there is any excess. Finally, glue the hat to the pinecone so that the top of the beard is under the hat and the hat sits right on top of the gnome’s nose.
Use these as Christmas decorations on your tree or gift them to friends and family.

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ROASTED PUMPKIN SOUP

Perfectly seasonal and delicious comfort food, you need this chilly time of the year. Make and enjoy as it is or turn it up a notch and serve in pumpkin bowls!

Ingredients:

For the pumpkin bowls:
- Small-ish pumpkins
- Oil
- Sea salt flakes
- Thyme

For the soup:
- Medium pumpkin (I used Queensland Blue)
- Oil
- Medium onion
- Medium carrot
- Salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- A pinch of ground cumin (optional)
- Stock
- Thyme
- Garlic
- Double cream (optional)
- Parsley (optional)
- Bread or croutons as garnish

If you are making the pumpkin bowls, start with them. Heat the oven to 190 - 200C. Wash and dry thoroughly, then using a sharp knife cut out a round lid from the top of yourpumpkin. Remove all the guts and seeds from the inside of the pumpkin, place on a baking tray, brush the bowl all over with oil, season with salt, and add some thyme. Repeat until you have enough bowls. Place the bowls and lids in the oven for about an hour or until the bowls have changed colour and are soft on the inside. Leave them to cool until you are ready to serve the soup. They are best used on the day, but you can keep them overnight in the fridge and use the next day too.
To make the soup, gut the medium pumpkin and cut into wedges. Spread them out on the roasting tray, oil and season with salt and pepper, add some thyme and dot 2-3 bruised garlic cloves around the pumpkin wedges. Roast on the same temperature as the bowls for a similar amount of time or until they look brown around the edges and are soft. While the pumpkin is baking, chop and cook the onion and carrot with a little oil in a large saucepan and set aside.
Once the pumpkin wedges are cooked, let them cool a little, remove the skin and add to the blender with the cooked onion, carrot and a little stock to help the texture blend. Blitz into a smooth puree (you may need to blend in stages depending on the capacity of your blender or you can use a stick blender if you have one). Once smooth, transfer into the saucepan, heat and cook for about 15min adding more stock if the mixture is too thick, season to taste.
To serve, place the pumpkin bowls on a plate, ladle the soup into them, add a little drizzle of double cream, sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and add croutons or serve with bread chunks on the side. Bon appetit!

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BOOK RECOMMENDATION

Staying on the topic of fairies, have you heard of this book before? I have discovered it for myself recently and oh what a joy it is to look at and read! There is a feast for your eyes on every single page - the illustrations are so beautiful and the details are just incredible. This book would make a perfect read for those cosy days in or as an inspiration for a role play game or wrapped with a ribbon under the Christmas tree for someone special.

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