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.
October is such an exciting time of year. For me, this is when autumn really starts.
Our local pumpkin patch has opened its doors, so we squeezed in an early visit this year and brought home a wheelbarrow-full of gorgeous, quirky pumpkins. My absolute favourite type is the one called “Cinderella”. I love its shape and pretty, peachy-pink colour. I spent one afternoon decorating our mantelpiece with them and adding candles for warmth.
Of course this month also brings Halloween - my very favourite holiday after Christmas.
My girls get very excited about it too and we usually start making plans in late summer about the outfits and how we are going to celebrate it!
In this month’s journal we share a gorgeous seasonal bake with you, as well as a sweet craft that can be a great seasonal activity to do with your little ones or even double-up as a prop for a Halloween costume if you are dressing up.
Should you decide to have a go at any activities, we would really love to see them. Please tag us Please tag us #inspiredbynelliequats
The idea came to me while I was exploring costume options for Halloween. I thought of an autumn queen or a forest fairy and what accessories she might have. We have made leaf crowns before, so I felt like doing something a little different and then I thought of an autumn umbrella. We had a broken child-sized umbrella lying around at home and I thought this would be a perfect way to recycle it.
You will need:
- Autumn leaves
- Hot glue gun and glue
- Brown paper (optional)
My first step was to cover the umbrella in some brown paper (I thought that the leaves might stick better to paper rather than the material of the umbrella), but you may wish to skip this step.
Make sure that your leaves are nice and dry before you start attaching them. You also may want to think about using larger leaves towards the bottom of the umbrella (the widest part) and use smaller ones as you move up.
We collected various leaves from the park, but ended up using mostly red oak leaves (and a few maple ones) - they are the largest ones and covered quite a lot of space. You can use pretty much any leaves in any shape or size, but note that the larger the leaves, the easier and quicker it is to cover the umbrella.
Start by attaching leaves with a little hot glue to the bottom of your umbrella, overlapping them slightly. It is nice when the leaves are hanging off the edge a little. Keep going round until the bottom row is done, then start on the next row, again overlapping the leaves between each other and also going slightly over the bottom row. Continue the pattern all the way up to the top of the umbrella. And there you have it - a perfect autumn craft/ addition to your halloween outfit.
PUMKIN-SHAPED MINI APPLE & BLACKBERRY PIES
My husband usually makes a large version of these pies with a slightly different finish and it inspired me to try and make a mini version. These are great on the go or for lunch boxes - just the most perfect seasonal treat. If you do not celebrate Halloween, these would look really sweet as simple pumpkins without faces.
- 313g plain flour
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 227g butter (cold and cubed)
- 6-9 tbsp cold water
- 1 egg for egg wash
- Demerara sugar for sprinkling
- 1 x cooking apple (peeled and diced)
- 1 x eating apple (peeled and diced)
- 40g butter
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 135g brown sugar
Blackberry & apple filling
- 150g fresh blackberries
- 1 x eating apple (peeled and diced)
- 67g granulated sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
To make the pastry:
In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Mix on low for 15 seconds. Add the cold butter all at once and beat on low until the mixture resembles coarse sand with pea-sized pieces of butter. With the mixer on low, add 6 tablespoons of liquid from the ice water mixture. Beat on low for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the dough clumps around the paddle and/or the sides of the bowl.
Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured counter with the spatula. Quickly knead the dough into a rough ball. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a rough ball. Wrap each portion tightly in plastic wrap and flatten it into a small disc. Refrigerate for at least one hour, up to overnight.
To make the apple filling:
Heat the butter in a pan until just barely golden brown. Add the apples and cook for 2 minutes. Add the vanilla, cinnamon, and sugar and toss to combine. Cook for 5-7 minutes until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency. Cool to room temperature.
To make the blackberry & apple filling:
Put the blackberries and apple in a saucepan with sugar and vanilla, simmer for about 10 min or until the syrup thickens. Cool to room temperature.
Remove the dough from the fridge and let it warm up a little. Roll out the dough (keep it quite thin - around 0.4cm), cut out as many pumpkins as possible. Place the pumpkin pieces on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Using a sharp knife, cut out jack-o-lantern faces on half of the pumpkin cutouts.
Preheat the oven to 190C (fan), line a baking sheet with parchment paper, beat an egg in a small bowl.
Place the pumpkin cutouts with no faces on the tray. Place 1.5 tablespoons of either filling in the centre. Brush the edges around the filling with the egg. Place a pumpkin cutout with a face on top and line up the edges. Using a fork, press the edges together, sealing in the filling. Brush the top of the pie with egg and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake for 25 min or until golden brown. Cool a little and enjoy!