Teeny Tiny Stationary Haul

Stationary Haul!

Hello friends! So the other day Jason and I went on a bit of a shopping spree in Manchester. I had the BEST time- I haven’t had the chance to visit Manchester in a few months and I always enjoy myself when I spend time there. If you’ve never been to Manchester, I strongly recommend that you make time to visit this magnificent city. For me, Manchester is the hub of the North West, and offers some of the best shopping in the entire North of England. I could easily blow my entire savings by spending a day eating, drinking and shopping in the city centre.

While we were there I purchased some much needed new clothes (blog post coming soon- don’t worry!), and some stationary from Paperchase. Sidenote: I’m not sure if Paperchase is an international brand, so some of you guys may not have heard of it. It’s basically just a stationary shop, but it has some of the most gorgeous diaries and pens and scrapbooks I’ve ever seen! You should check it out.

Something you probably didn’t know about me is that I am a stationary fanatic. I LOVE the stuff. When that time of year comes around again when I need to purchase some new school supplies, I practically leap with excitement. For me, very few things are as satisfying as a new notebook with fresh, empty pages just waiting to be filled.

But enough about my love affair with stationary items. While we were in Manchester I purchased this gorgeous llama notepad, shown below. (I couldn’t find this on the Paperchase website anymore sadly! I’m not sure if it’s sold out. I did however find this beautiful notepad, which is pretty similar and equally as gorgeous).P1230221

I’ve been wanting a nice notepad since starting this blog, as I thought it’d be a good idea to have somewhere where I can write down all my ideas for blog posts and recipes in one place! After much deliberation- they have soooo many beautiful notepads- I finally settled on this one. I love the embossed feel to the front cover, and it feels so sturdy! I’ll be able to throw this little guy in my satchel and go, without worrying about it getting bent or ripped.P1230220

Plus, it’s just adorable isn’t it? Everybody loves a llama.

As well as my notepad, I purchased this super cute writing set. While I’m away at university I love to write to my grandparents; they don’t have the internet so it’s really nice to be able to keep in touch through our letters. I also love the whole thing of letter writing; sitting down and taking the time to write about my week is a much more thoughtful method of communication compared to just sending a text. Even now when I receive a new letter in the post from my grandparents, I get little twinges of excitement in my stomach.P1230223

This writing set came with 30 beautifully printed sheets of paper and 15 matching envelopes, along with some labels. I love how it’s a little drawer! It’s so lovely.

I also got a great birthday card, but I can’t share that with you incase the person reads this blog! I’ll be sure to show you after the birthday though, because it is so adorable!

Anyway, that’s all folks, at least on the stationary front. I told you it was a teeny tiny haul! But I hope you enjoyed it.

Have you been buying any stationary recently? Do you share my weird obsession? Let me know!

Hugs to you all,

Maddie x

One month of blogging!

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Wow, that went fast! A Little Mad Smith is one month old today (can we get a hip hip hooray?) and I just wanted to share a little post to say thank you so much to all my lovely followers and readers of this blog. Your support over this past month has meant the world to me- I am over the moon to see that my blog has been received with so much love all over the world! I never would’ve thought that people in hometown would have been at all interested in my craft projects and recipes, let alone people on the other side of the globe! So thank you to all who have shared, liked and commented on my posts, and thank you, yes you, for taking the time to read this.

I hope I can continue to produce content that you find interesting, entertaining and inspiring. I already have a thousand crafty ideas and tasty recipes that I am dying to get stuck into and share with you all in the near future, so I do hope you stick around!

As a little celebration of our one month birthday, I’ve put together some of my favourite posts from over the past four weeks. I hope you can find something that inspires you to get crafty and try something new!

Fabric Flowers DIY– This is one of my favourite mini sewing projects of all time. I love the vintage look of these and they’re a great method of using up excess fabric. I also think that they make a beautiful addition to any handbag.

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DIY Photo Holders- This DIY was a super simple project that produced great results! And all you need is a pebble, some paint and a bit of wire. What could be better?

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Peanut butter and Chocolate Cupcakes- I cannot describe to you how good these tasted, but believe me when I say, they were goooood. Like, seriously, you need to try these.

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DIY Patchwork cushion cover– This beautiful DIY is a great project for those wanting to try out patch working, and its a great way of using up scraps of fabric. I love how this turned out.

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Domino’s style cookiesThe inspiration behind this bake was my favourite fast food cookies. Served warm, these soft squishy cookies are truly divine. Why not give them a try?

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DIY painted glass lanterns– This DIY is a great project for the kids to get involved with. A great way of using up excess jars, my DIY glass lanterns are the perfect addition to any evening garden party.

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Drawstring bag DIY– Drawstring bags are so useful and so versatile! My drawstring bag DIY gives a simples method for making your own drawstring bag that can easily be adapted into a child’s PE kit bag ready for back to school.

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Well there you have it guys, just a selection of some of my favourite blog posts from over this past month. I hope you enjoy them if you didn’t see them first time round, and please let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to see up on the blog over this next month! In the meantime, remember that there’s plenty of other projects to keep you busy in the craft and food sections of my blog- why not have a look?

I’m always looking for new ideas and crafty inspiration.

Hugs and best wishes to you all,

Maddie x

 

DIY tassels

 

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Happy Friday! How are we all today? Looking forward to the weekend I expect. If you’re looking for some crafty inspiration for over your days off, look no further than my DIY tassels! I got this idea from a recent post over on KelleysDIY, where Linda had put together a post all about craft ideas for teens. If you haven’t visited her blog before, I strongly recommend that you go and check it out! There’s some fantastic craft ideas that are sure to inspire and entertain people of all ages.

But anyway, in the post there were a good few ideas involving tassels. And that got me thinking about making my own. I’ve never made tassels but I thought- how hard can it be? Well, the answer to that would be not very hard at all. It’s actually pretty easy in fact. I will say however that my first attempt at my tassel was not exactly the prettiest tassel in all the world, but I soon got into the swing after that.

It turns out that tassel-making is oddly addictive; it required quite a lot of self discipline to stop myself from churning out tassels all afternoon. But aren’t they just so damn cute?! I only had a small selection of yarn to hand, but I think these would’ve worked great with embroidery thread for a finer, more delicate tassel. They’d also look great with some beads added on, or maybe a contrasting colour yarn to make the head.

Interested in making your own? Find my step by step instructions below!

You will need:

  • Yarn, thread, string or similar
  • Scissors
  • A piece of cardboard or similar (this is to wrap your tassel around)

So what do you do?

  1. Your cardboard should be double the length you wish your finished tassel to be. Wrap your yarn tightly around the cardboard as shown. The thickness of this will be half the thickness of your finished tassel. I wrapped mine until it was about three quarters of an inch wide.
  2. Slide your yarn off the cardboard so you have a loop. Place about a 5″ piece of yarn around the centre of this loop and tie it in a knot.  1.-2.png
  3. Bring the two loose ends of the centre yarn up and the two ends of the loop down. Now you need to make a head for your tassel. Using an approximately 10″ piece of yarn, create a loop in one end. Place the loop on the tassel and hold in place with your thumb.
  4. Wrap the end of the yarn without the loop around the top of the tassel tightly. This will create the head that you can see on my tassels. When you are happy that this has been wrapped around enough, thread the loose end of the yarn through the loop and pull to secure.3.-2.png
  5. Cut through the loops at the bottom of the tassel to create the skirt. You can now tie your tassel to your creations using the two loose threads at the top!

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There you have it! From experience, it might seem a little bit tricky on your first attempt, but once your get into the swing of it it’s really easy! I feel I’m going to be churning out a lot more tassels in the near future.

Have you got anything crafty planned for the weekend? Let me know!

Best wishes to you all,

Maddie.

 

Homemade strawberry and blackberry jam

Homemade jam!

Hi guys! So, on Monday I had the day off and decided to go blackberry picking. I live just next to some woods so there’s always LOADS of blackberries growing nearby at this time of year, but until Monday I hadn’t actually been blackberry picking in years. I used to go all the time with my gran when I was younger, but since I’ve been a teenager I don’t think I’ve been. And my teenage years are over next month, so we’re talking quite a while.

But anyway, for some unknown reason on Monday I had the desire to go pick some blackberries. I did manage to get my hands on quite a few, until I had the misfortune of seeing a spider; this resulted in me jumping about two feet in the air and dropping half of my pickings. But still, I came home with ample blackberries for making some strawberry and blackberry jam, which is what I’ll be sharing with you today! 🙂

I’d never made jam before, but I actually found that it was a much easier process than I had been expecting (yay!). This recipe produces a soft jam with lots of juicy bits- and it tastes divine! Super sweet and summery, perfect for this time of year.  Fancy making your own? Find my recipe below:

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Ingredients (makes two small jars of jam): 

  • A 700g mix of strawberries and blackberries. I used 600g of strawberries and 100g of blackberries.
  • 700g granulated sugar
  • Lemon juice (optional)
  • A knob of butter (optional)

It doesn’t matter what mix of strawberries and blackberries you use, as long as the combined weight is the same as the weight of the sugar.

Method:

  1. Sterilise your jam jars. Place your jars in the sink and pour boiling water inside them. Let them sit for a few minutes before rinsing and leaving to dry. When dry, pop them in a warm oven.
  2. Wash your berries. Remove the stalks from your strawberries by cutting a small cone shape in the top, and cut them in half (you can cut your strawberries into smaller pieces for a finer jam, but I liked the chunkier consistency). Note: If you are using blackberries from the wild like I did, first soak them in a bowl of salted water for a couple of hours. This will cause any small bugs or worms that may be in your blackberries to float to the top, where you can them scoop them out with a spoon. Rinse well with clean water following soaking them.
  3. Place your berries and sugar in a large saucepan. Mash your fruit with a potato masher to form a sort of pulp, and fold in your sugar. Add the juice of half a lemon if you wish.
  4. Bring your fruit and sugar to the boil on a low heat. This is very important, you want a gentle boil that isn’t rushed. When the fruit starts to bubble, you will see a froth form on the top.
  5. Turn the heat down to a simmer and let the mixture bubble for about ten minutes. Add your knob of butter if using and let it sit on top of the mixture. It will help get rid of some of the froth. If not all of the froth goes, scoop it out with a spoon. Take the jam off the heat.
  6. To see if your jam is cooked enough, place a small spoonful on a plate and pop this is the fridge for a couple of minutes. If the jam is not runny when you remove the plate, your jam does not need further cooking. If your jam runs when you tilt the plate, bring it to the boil again and simmer for a further two minutes.
  7. Your jam is now ready to be poured into your jars. Spoon your jam into your prepared jam jars, which should be nice and warm following being in the oven. Pop the lids on and leave to cool, before placing in the fridge.

Ta da! It’s that easy. I will definitely be making jam again and trying out some new flavours, I really was impressed by the ease of the process and the tastiness of the result!

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Have you tried making jam before? Did you process differ from mine? Please let me know! I’d love to know what recipes other people use.

That’s all from me today, I hope you’re all having wonderful Wednesdays!

Best wishes,

Maddie.

 

 

Packing for university

Packing for University

Leaving home and going to university is probably one of the biggest life changes you’ll face in your teenage years. It’s now fast approaching that time of year again; I’m sure some of my readers will know someone who’s starting uni (or college) this Autumn- or maybe it’s you! If so, congratulations!

For those who aren’t aware, I’m a second year student at Lancaster University, England. I study Theoretical Physics with Mathematics, and live in student halls.

Soooo, I was thinking that some of you might be interested in hearing about my experiences from over the past year and what I’ve learnt. I plan on doing a series of posts all about student advice, what I wish I’d known and insights into other areas of student life- is that something you guys would be interested in?  Today’s blog post is the first of the lot- my tips on Packing for University.

 

  1. Pack your creature comforts! – This is probably the most important piece of advice I could give. Moving away from home for the first time can be quite a daunting experience, at least it was for me. I’m very much a home bird- I love my bed, my blankets, my candles, my tv. Basically, I love everything that makes home home. Now, I know packing space may be limited, but I cannot stress how important making room for your homely trinkets is. Whether it be ornaments, posters, a colourful throw- bring things that will make your dorm feel like your space. It’s so important to have a homely space where you can relax and be yourself.
  2. You’re not Gordon Ramsey – Let’s be real guys, how many of you are really going to use an electric whisk? Or one of those massive kitchen knives that look like they’ve come out of a horror film? Or a garlic crusher? Leave it at home. It’s so easy to get carried away when purchasing your kitchen supplies for uni and accumulate enough to kit out a small kitchen. Don’t do it! Realistically, you’re not going to be cooking full, restaurant standard meals. I found that two saucepans, a frying pan, one good quality knife, a chopping board and a baking tray are enough to provide you with some good home cooked food without overdoing it. Your kitchen space is limited, and do you really have the cash to spare on a steel bread bin when you’re shopping on a student budget?
  3.  Don’t go hungry – A mistake most people make when moving into university is not taking any food with them for when they arrive. You’re probably not going to have chance to get to a supermarket on your first couple of days living in halls, so I always advise taking your bare basics with you to move in. I’m talking tea, coffee, biscuits, cereal. Get some snack food in so you don’t have to rush out to the nearest food store as soon as your stomach starts to rumble. I’m lucky enough to only live forty minutes away from Lancaster, so I also take chilled goods like milk and butter.
  4. Pack for the climate – Wardrobe space is limited in student halls. If you’re going to University in England or a similar climate, don’t pack summer dresses and shorts for your first term! Winter is coming (lol), so pack for it. Save space by only bringing clothes that are appropriate for the weather that you’ll be having that term. There’s no need to bring your whole wardrobe with you! You can rotate your clothes every time you go home to stay seasonal and sensible.

Well there you are guys, that’s my top four tips for packing for university. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, please ask! I’m happy to help. Are you going to university this time? Let me know!

Hugs to you all,

Maddie.

 

 

 

DIY Hair Bow Tutorial

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Hey guys! I hope you’ve all enjoyed your Sunday and this post finds you well rested and ready for the working week ahead. I’m so tired today! I haven’t really done much at all, but sometimes I think that makes me even more tired- am I just weird or are you guys like that too? I’m much more of an active person, I love to be doing something all of the time- hence today’s blog post!

These are my DIY hair bows; a really quick and easy project for those of you who, like me, just have to be kept busy. Those who went to high school with me will probably remember a stage where I never would be seen without one of these perched on top of my head. I love this DIY, it requires no sewing machine and minimal sewing skills, uses up excess fabric and has a really cute, vintage vibe to it- don’t you think?

If you’re interested in making your own, find my step by step instructions below!

You will need:

  • Two rectangles of fabric, I used a 9″x4″ and a 4″x1.5″ piece
  • Fabric Scissors
  • Hand sewing needle
  • Thread
  • A bobby pin

So what do you do?

  1. Fold over the two longer sides of your larger rectangle by half an inch and press into place with an iron as show. Do the same with your smaller rectangle. 1..png
  2. Do a loose hand stitch along the two shorter edges of your large rectangle and down the centre. This should be like a tacking stitch (basting to my American readers), so that when you pull the loose end of your thread the fabric gathers, as shown. Gather all three of these rows of stitches. Tip: if you are completely new to sewing, a good way of tying a knot in the end of your thread before stitching is wrapping the end of the thread around your thumb three times, then passing your threaded needle through the loop of thread on your thumb. Slide the thread off your thumb and pull tightly to create a knot.
  3. Fold one side of your large rectangle over into the centre and secure this down with a few hand stitches. When you are happy that this is secure enough, tie a knot by sewing through your last stitch. Snip the thread and then do the same to the other side of the rectangle. You can see the bow shape taking form now. 3.
  4. Wrap your smaller rectangle around the centre of your bow to cover up all the messy stitching in the centre. Do a few stitches in the back to secure this rectangle, before snipping the ends of the fabric off.
  5. Pass a bobby pin through the loop created by the small rectangle at the back of your bow. It can now be worn as a hair accessory! P1230141.jpg

I hope you all enjoyed this quick and easy tutorial! if you have a go at making your own hair bow, please be sure to show me! I’d love to see.

Also, don’t hesitate to ask if you’ve got any questions about this tutorial or any of my other DIYs, I’m happy to help 🙂

Best wishes,

Maddie x

 

How I attach Bias Binding

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Hey guys! It’s finally Friday! I’m afraid that due to a very hectic working day today I haven’t had chance to put together my usual projects for the weekend post, I have however got a small post for all you sewing enthusiasts out there! If sewing’s not really your thing, why not check out some of my previous posts for some weekend inspiration?

So you may have seen my recent post about my battle with my gran’s blanket. If you didn’t, why haven’t you been keeping up to date with my blog?! Jokes, thanks for being here now! But if you did you will know all about my struggle of bias binding the edges of said blanket.

After publishing that post it occurred to me that some of my readers wouldn’t know what bias binding was, and also some of you would probably like to know how to use it! Hence today’s post: How I attach bias binding. I called this post ‘How I attach bias binding’ rather than ‘How to attach bias binding’ as I’ve never actually been shown how other people do this. I’ve just sort of tried a few different techniques over the years and eventually found one that works for me, which is what I’ll be sharing with you today.

So what is bias binding? 

Bias binding is something used for covering up raw edges when sewing garments or things like quilts. Its basically a strip of fabric with the two edges folded in and is bought on a roll, kind of like a cotton ribbon with the two edges folded over.

How do you attach it?

Well I can’t speak for everyone else, but this is how I attach bias binding to my projects.

  1. Fold the bias in half lengthways and press it with an iron. When you have done this you will have three folds in your binding, the two it is purchased with and then the one you have just added.
  2. Pin your bias along one of the outer folds to the raw edge of your fabric as shown below. I was adding the bias binding to a blanket that had started to fray at the edges, hence the mess poking out from behind my bias! Not to worry, all this will be encompassed by the bias binding once we have attached it 🙂P1220938
  3. Machine stitch along the fold where you have pinned.P1220941
  4. Fold the bias over the raw edge of your fabric, encompassing the edge. You want the centre fold that you have pressed into the bias to be on the edge of the fabric. Pin this into place as shown.P1220940
  5. You can see now that you have two neat edges on either side of your bias binding, exactly what we wanted! Machine stitch close to the edge.P1220942

There you have it! My way of applying bias binding. I’ve used this technique to edge a quilt and also to make bunting; two projects that I will be sharing with you in future blog posts!

I hope this may have been of some help for those of you wanting to try out something new with your sewing! Leave any questions or comments below!

Best wishes to you all,

Maddie.