Feeling spooky- Halloween inspired sketching

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October is upon us; that means my return to university, the inevitable rise of pumpkin spiced everything, and Halloween.

I feel as though when I have my own house I will go totally nuts at Halloween. I’m a big fan of spooky face paint, dressing up, pumpkin carving- and who doesn’t like sweets?! To be honest with you, I’m just one of those people who loves any excuse to celebrate and bake themed cupcakes.

But anyway, I was feeling particularly inspired today to get into the spooky spirit. Seeing as I didn’t have time to tackle any adventurous craft projects, I settled on a spot of painting.

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It’s actually been AGES since I last painted with watercolours. I used to do pieces like this all the time, but since going to uni there’s been very few additions to my collection.

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A piece like this usually takes me about two hours, so they’re rather quick in the big scheme of things. Sometimes I prefer doing them to my larger canvas works, because there isn’t as much commitment involved; if I’m unhappy with the finished product, I don’t feel as bad about throwing it in the bin. This usually means I experiment a bit more with these pieces, creating a messier and more abstract final result, which I like.

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This piece was completed using a combination of watercolour, dyes and ink. I can afford to work quite loosely with the watercolour rather than keeping my work restricted and neat, as sketching over the top with black ink adds detail.

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I hope you enjoyed this little artsy blog post today guys! Let me know if you’d be interested in seeing more posts like this in the comments!

Have a spooky October friends!

My 21st Birthday

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Turning 21 in my family has always been a way bigger deal than turning 18. I think it’s because both my parents and grandparents alike felt that you were a ‘proper adult’ at 21. Though to tell you the truth I am still definitely pretending to be an adult and certainly not a ‘proper adult’ by any means. Adulting is hard and I’d much rather bury my head in the sand and paint and bake nice food all day.

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But, to celebrate my 21st birthday on the 15th September, I had a small garden party with my family and a couple of friends. After a glorious Summer of sunshine in England, the weather has taken a turn since and spent the majority of the first half of September raining and cold. This was the case on the morning of my birthday, however it brightened up in time for everyone coming round and we actually had a great afternoon.

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Photo courtesy of Steve Monks. During my Dad’s speech.

I wanted my party to be a proper fiesta; I had a lot of Mexican influences in both the food and the decorations, as well as some elements of Cuban culture too. I really just wanted my day to be a super fun, super relaxed event for everyone, complete with party games, a piñata and a cocktail bar serving mojitos!

 

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Photo courtesy of Steve Monks. Like mother like daughter! We both like sparklers.

I am really gutted that I hardly have any photos to share with you from the day! I had gone to so much effort creating everything from the decorations to most of the food: as always, I made my own birthday cake, as well as pineapple and flamingo themed cupcakes, cactus cookies, a vegetarian chilli, dips, tray bake nachos- loads! Jason’s mum had also been a great help too and had made an amazing upside down pineapple cake, as well as a chilli con carne and a delicious mac’n’cheese. The food table looked amazing- and I have no photos to share with you! Sorry! 😦

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My homemade birthday cake. This is after we lit the sparklers which is why there’s weird black candles on the top- though I can assure you it looked great when they were lit!

I also painted a bunch of cardboard signs for the day; one for my Dad’s mojito bar, and a few others featuring cactii, Dia de los Muertos candy skulls and some Cuban classic cars! (With the rather cheesy slogan, ‘Havana happy birthday!’).

I hope to be able to recreate some of the Mojitos we made for the big day and do a blog post on those for you! I made my Dad a recipe card featuring a mojito clásico, a mojito zarzamora and a mojito ruibarbo recipe.

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Photo courtesy of Steve Monks. My Dad’s Mojito Bar sign, along with some of the Papel Picado and my Mojito recipes.

In short, I had an absolutely amazing day. It’s always great spending time with my family, and it was so much fun spending my birthday with them. The excitement didn’t stop there though! The following morning, tired and only slightly hungover, Jason and I were travelling down to London in order to get ready for our flight from Heathrow to Rome!

We had an amazing time, and no doubt I will be updating you all on how it went in a future post!

Thanks for stopping by- I hope you enjoyed this post! Have you been celebrating any big birthdays recently? What did you do to celebrate?

Let me know in the comments!

 

My first attempt at sugar cookies

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I see sugar cookies all the time on social media. Birthday sugar cookies, baby shower sugar cookies, wedding sugar cookies, Christmas sugar cookies. I can’t seem to get away from them when I’m scrolling through Pinterest, but I’ve never actually had a go at making my own sugar cookies before. Well, until now that is.

I get the impression that sugar cookies are a much bigger thing in the US than they are here in the UK. The only time I’ve eaten sugar cookies before is back when I was at Primary school; my mum has a friend who grew up in Hawaii, and she always made sugar cookies for us to decorate when we went round to her house. (Side note: I loved going round to her house.)

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So, armed with a bit of spare time and some good old nostalgia, I decided to have a go at baking my own sugar cookies. My mum’s friend was kind enough to give me her recipe, so I was able to make the exact same yummy cookies that I remember eating as a kid.

I was really pleased with how these cookies turned out for a first attempt. They tasted just like I remember, and were perfect for icing. I decided to keep things pretty simple and go with a butterfly design for these cookies, but I’m excited to experiment and see what other designs I will be able to come up with using some different cookie cutters.

I’m already planning on making some of these for my 21st birthday party next week, so I’ll be uploading a recipe soon! I’m hoping to have a go at making some cacti cookies, what do you think?!

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Have you ever made sugar cookies? Do you agree that they’re way more popular in the States?

Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Mexican Paper Flowers

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What a week it has been. I am most certainly ready for the weekend, and I couldn’t be more grateful for Monday being a bank holiday. I spent today at a high school in Lancaster teaching a Maths and Science session as part of a Summer School for the new students starting in September. I always find working in schools good fun, but dear Lord am I tired. The kids seemed to enjoy it though so that’s the main thing.

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In other news, today’s post is a super easy DIY for you all. As some of you may know, I’m currently in the midst of planning my 21st birthday celebrations. It turns out that I love party planning- who knew? I guess it’s no suprise, I am an avid list maker and organiser. I know it sounds really boring for those of you who aren’t that way inclined, but what can I say, I do love a good list.

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So, onto today’s project. These Mexican paper flowers were sooo easy to make and I love how bright and colourful they are; they’re going to make perfect decorations for my party.

Here’s how I made them:

You will need:

  • Crepe paper or tissue paper, assorted bright colours.
  • Pipe cleaners.
  • Scissors.

Method:

  1. Cut your crepe paper into squares, about 4″ wide. You will need about 6-8 sheets of paper per flower. P1240636
  2. Place your square sheets of paper on top of each other and fold them together in a concertina style, as though you were making a fan.P1240638.jpg
  3. Wrap a pipe cleaner around the centre of the folded paper and twist the two loose ends together to secure. P1240642.jpg
  4. Use scissors to round out the edges as shown.P1240643.jpg
  5. Carefully peel your paper up, one layer at a time, until you create your desired flower shape.
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    Front view

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    Back view

  6. Use your flowers to decorate your home, garden, or wherever else you fancy!

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There we have it! I hope you enjoyed this post guys, have you ever tried making paper flowers? What have you been up to this week? Let me know in the comments!

 

Victoria sandwich cake and party planning

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Hey guys, how’re we all doing?

Despite only working three days a week at the moment, I’m feeling pretty worn out. When I go back to uni in October I know that I’ll be buried in a mountain of work once again, so I’m trying to fit as many things into this summer as I can. While this is great in some respects- I’m churning out enough baked goods to feed a small family for a year- I’m also feeling like I just don’t have enough time to fit everything in.

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s my 21st birthday next month, so I’m busy looking forward to that. I’m not having a proper party- I decided to spend the money on a trip to Rome with Jason instead- but I am having some family round on the day to celebrate with me. Naturally, because I’m me, having a few family members round has turned into a themed celebration, so despite the small 18 people long guest list, I’m pulling out all the stops to create an awesome Latin American themed fiesta.

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I studied Spanish at school and fell in love with the language, going on to develop a huge appreciation for both Spanish and latin American culture as I’ve gotten older. Hence when I was thinking about a summer party theme, my mind instantly went to sunshine, papel picado and mojitos. Sadly, here in North England the sunshine isn’t a given, but with plans for a DIY cocktail bar and several Mexican paper crafts already underway, the other two are looking likely.

Alongside my fiesta planning, I’ve also done some very English baking for my Dad. Unfortunately my Dad’s birthday is in May, right in the middle of exam season, so I didn’t have time to make him a birthday cake this year. To make up for this I made him his favourite Victoria sandwich cake the other day while I was off.

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I love Victoria sandwich cake. Like, what’s not to love really? It’s the perfect combination of soft sponge cake, sweet jam, and light and airy cream. I personally prefer cake with buttercream instead of fresh cream, but seeing as this was for my Dad I sandwiched the sponges together with a whipped double cream and strawberries mixture, his fave.

It’s safe to say this cake went down very well- two days later and it’s almost all gone! If you fancy making your own Victoria sandwich cake, try using my vanilla sponge cake recipe.

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I’ve got plenty more baking planned for over the coming weeks, mainly preparations for my birthday- yay!

What have you been up to this week? Let me know in the comments!

Guess who’s back, back, back… feat. Unicorn Birthday Cake

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Well hello there guys! It’s me, Maddie, hello. It’s been a while! Like, a hell of a while! Sorry!

The build up to Summer was a hella busy time for me; I was preparing for my summer exams, then doing my summer exams, then working full-time for a month as part of an internship. At last, I am now back in my home town of Chorley and looking forward to a reasonably quiet month when I will be able to dedicate some more time to my blog. The quiet time will not last long though, September will be an exciting month for me; not only will I will be turning 21, but Jason and I will be celebrating five years together by a trip to Rome.

Yes- my 21st birthday, which is super scary because it means I’ll be a proper adult and I’m still not very good at adulting, despite having lived alone for the majority of the past two years. Buuutt it does mean that I’m getting things ready for an awesome 21st fiesta, so keep your eyes peeled for some cool DIYs and party decorations up on the blog over the next month or so.

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First up though, today’s post is featuring this awesome cake that I made last week! Jason’s mum asked me to make a unicorn themed birthday cake for one of her friends and I have to admit, I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. Like, I’m no cake decorating expert, so I’ll be the first to say it could definitely have looked a little neater, but hey, I think it gives the little guy character.

I had a great time making this cake. It was the first bit of baking I’ve done since Christmas- and it was a great way to get me back into the swing of things! Despite being a bit of a mammoth project to begin with, I think the outcome was definitely worth it. Sadly I’ve no photos of the inside of this cake (I couldn’t cut into before the birthday girl after all!), but it was made with three layers of pink vanilla sponge cake, sandwiched with pink buttercream and lots of sparkles!

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The mane of the unicorn was created using buttercream in four different pastel shades, while I used regal icing to make the horn and ears. I painted these gold by using a mixture of golden baking dust and almond extract- this part smelled so good you guys.

Unfortunately we’ve been having freakishly hot weather in the UK this Summer, and the day I made this cake was no exception! This did lead to some of the butter in the icing oozing out as it melted, which is the yellow liquid you can see on some of these pictures. This was a problem that I’ve never encountered before in my baking, but I’ve since been wondering about how to avoid this happening in the future. Does anybody have any methods to avoid this with their bakes? If so, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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If you’d be interested in seeing a step by step post on how to make this cake, please let me know in the comments! I’d be happy to create that for you guys.

I hope you’re all having great summers, and perhaps also looking forward to some of my upcoming posts!

Maddie.

Sister Style- Spring edition!

 

 

When I came to the decision to restyle my blog a couple of weeks ago, I really wanted to start incorporating more fashion posts. I wouldn’t say that I’m a fashionable person, but I’m still a sucker for all those beautifully styled Instagram photos of super trendy women in gorgeous clothing. I just said ‘trendy’, I’m so lame.

I’d actually love to have one of those super fashionable Instagrams, as I bloody love clothes; the issue is I hate being in front of the camera, which makes shooting photos to accompany fashion and beauty related posts pretty difficult. As you will be able to tell from most of these photos, I’m a pretty awkward poser. Body confidence isn’t something I possess in abundance.

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But those of you who have been following my blog for a while now will know that my sister, Hannah, loves being in front of the camera. Hannah loves all things fashion and has a pretty hefty clothing collection. Hence when I do decide to do a fashion post, Hannah is my go to.

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Today’s sister style had kind of a sports-luxe vibe- well, at least that’s what I thought, like I say, I ain’t no fashion guru. The weather has finally started to warm up (well, it’s not snowing anymore) here in Lancashire, so we decided to forgo coats and really embrace the ‘Spring’ weather.

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We had great fun shooting for this blog post, as much as I hate having my picture taken, it’s always a nice way to spend an afternoon with my sister.

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I decided to wear this Topshop bodycon dress that I bought a few weeks back. Since the weather’s been so bad up here recently, this was really the first time I’ve had chance to wear it. I paired it with a white t-shirt underneath for a bit of extra warmth and then an Asos denim jacket (courtesy of Hannah!). I love the colours of this dress, I think it has a real 70s vibe that I am totally digging.

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Those of you who saw my last sister style post will know that I am mad about these leather boots. My parents bought me them from Dune for my 20th birthday back in September and I’ve hardly stopped wearing them since! I usually wear these with knee socks when the weather starts to warm up a bit, I have a love of knee socks and mini skirts.

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Resident model Hannah opted for a loose jumper from Stradivarius, paired with some back cropped trousers from Pretty Little Thing. Hannah is lucky enough to have tiny feet, so her shoes are actually kid’s Reebok Classics! I’m so jealous of her shoe size -_- (Plus she has the best selection of shoes and I can’t steal any of them).

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There you have it guys, I hope you enjoyed this lil’ sister style post! I always have so much fun doing these posts for you, let me know if you like seeing them!

Hope y’all had great Easter weekends,

Maddie.