DIY Halloween cauldron sweet holder!

Get spooky with this Halloween DIY cauldron! A project for the kids to get involved with!

Hey guys! It’s finally Friday, and my word am I ready for it! This week has been my first week back at university, and I. Am. Exhausted. It’s been hard work, and involved a fair bit more stress than I would’ve liked; but now it’s Friday evening, my lectures have finished and I’m looking forward to a bit of a lie in tomorrow!

And seeing as it’s Friday the 13th today, what better than a spooky DIY for you all, in preparation of Halloween! I have been absolutely loving creating my Halloween blog posts for you guys this month, it’s been super fun! Plus, I have a very exciting Halloween post coming up on the 22nd for you all…

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But now to what this post is actually about… my DIY Halloween sweet cauldron! I had so much fun creating this DIY for you… perhaps more fun than a 20 year old should have when using paper mache… but still, it was so fun! Creating this cauldron really took me back to when I was little; there’s something so inherently childlike about using paper mache! Plus I love the finished result, its perfect for keeping by the door and storing all of your trick or treat sweets in. It also just makes a great table decoration for Halloween!

So let’s get started!

You will need:

  • A balloon
  • Paper mache paste and scrap newspaper or paper. Find my DIY paper mache paste here!
  • A glue gun (this is optional, but I really like the effect it gives).
  • Acrylic paints

Method:

  1. Begin by blowing up your balloon. Place your balloon upside down, so the tied end is facing into your work surface. You can stand your balloon on a toilet roll tube or something similar to help with this.
  2. Begin to paper mache the balloon. Once you have covered enough of your balloon so that you have got a large enough cauldron, add another few layers of paper mache on top of this base layer. I did three total layers for my cauldron.
  3. Roll up some bits of newspaper to create the lip at the top of the cauldron. Glue these around the top of the cauldron using your paper mache paste. Once you have added a lip all the way around the cauldron, cover it with one layer of newspaper to help make it smooth and easier to paint later on.P1230528
  4. Leave your cauldron the dry over night. Once the paper mache is totally dry, pop your balloon using a pin or similar. You now have your basic cauldron shape!
  5. Now for the optional glue gun bit. If you have a glue gun, write some spooky wording on your cauldron, and add a few drips around the top! I chose to write ‘Witch’s Brew’ on mine, I love how it turned out!P1230558
  6. Now you are ready to start painting your cauldron. I used a very dark purple for my cauldron, using bits of black to add depth. I painted the top a bright green colour, to give the illusion of my witch’s brew oozing over the top of the cauldron! I then added some white to my writing, to help make it more prominent.
  7. Paint the inside of your cauldron whatever colour you like, or do what I did and add some green tissue paper to make your Witch’s Brew look extra spooky!

I’m really happy with how this DIY turned out, I think this’ll look great holding lots of sweet treats this Halloween season!

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What did you think of this DIY? Have you been trying any Halloween related crafts recently? Let me know!

A very spooky best wishes to you all,

Maddie x

 

Barcelona Diaries- Day 2

 

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Hello my lovely readers! So some of you may have seen my recent(ish) post on mine and Jason’s trip to Barcelona last year. Today is the second instalment in that ‘series’- our second day in Barcelona. If you are visiting Barcelona and would like to know where we stayed, find a link to the website in that post! 

We were only staying in Barcelona for three days, so our second day was very busy as we wanted to squeeze in everything that we could! We had decided that today was the day that we wanted to see La Sagrada Familia, the great unfinished cathedral. Arguably Gaudi’s most famous work, this magnificent architectural feat was my main reason for wanting to visit the city in the first place. Jason and I both love gothic architecture, so we were so excited to see Gaudi’s masterpiece in person.

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La Sagrada Familia

We were not disappointed. Following hiring a taxi from the main road outside the central apartment where we were staying, and a short journey out of the city centre with one of the friendliest taxi drivers I’ve ever met, we arrived at the cathedral.

The area around La Sagrada Familia is bustling with tourists and school groups. Jason and I stopped outside to get some photos before seeing what the deal was with tickets. To enter the cathedral you need to book on a time slot, and there is usually a few hours wait. We had arrived at the cathedral around 12pm, and ended up booking on a time slot at 5pm. Tickets cost €15, and there is an additonal fee if you wish to go up in the towers. Jason and I decided not to do this (we were holidaying on a student budget after all!), but if I went again I probably would. I imagine the view from the top is something quite spectacular.

After booking our time slot and paying for our tickets, we had a quick look in the gift shop before deciding to head across the road to a small museum type building dedicated to Barcelona FC. I’m not interested in football, but Jason found it pretty cool. They had several shirts on display and some snippets of information about the club. The entry was free here.

Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

Parc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

Following this, we decided to walk down to Barcelona zoo for the day. Barcelona zoo is located at the end of a beautiful park, home to the most spectacular fountain; Parc de la Ciutadella, featured above. The zoo was probably about a twenty minute-half an hour walk from La Sagrada Familia in total. We stopped for a sandwich while we sat on one of the park benches, before having a little stroll and arriving at the zoo.

Barcelona zoo is what you’d expect from a zoo, nothing out of the ordinary but well worth a visit if you enjoy that sort of thing. Entry was €19,90 each and we spent a good few hours here before walking back up to La Sagrada Familia for our entry time!

Inside La Sagrada Familia/ Dentro La Sagrada Familia

Inside La Sagrada Familia at sunset

Inside La Sagrada Familia is just as awe-inspiring and magnificent as you would expect from looking at the outside. It is HUGE. There are a number of absolutely stunning stained glass windows dotted along the length of the cathedral, and thanks to the time of our visit we were witness to a spectacular show of colours as the sun began to set outside. There are numerous stone columns inside the cathedral that all exhibit beautiful works of stone masonry at the top, leading up to the organ situated right at the front.

Inside La Sagrada Familia

Inside La Sagrada Familia

You were also able to view the crypt of the basilica, but here photography was forbidden.

I found the experience absolutely wonderful, and I would definitely urge anyone visiting Barcelona to make a trip there! I only wish my photos could have captured the true beauty of the light falling through the windows, as sadly they don’t do it justice.

Have you ever visited Barcelona? What did you go and see while you were there? Let me know in the comments! 🙂

Maddie x

My Uni room tour!

 

Hey guys! First things first, I have to apologise if I don’t seem like my usual cheery self in this post. It’s been one of those days and I’m just starting to come down with a cold, but I didn’t want to leave you with no post today! 🙂 Today was also my first day back at University- I know, I know, we start sooooo late here!– so it’s safe to say I’m feeling pretty frazzled.

But now to what this post is about! Today’s post is my uni room tour (‘Wow, really Maddie? We’d never have guessed- it’s not like you called it that!’). This is my second year living in student halls, and I have had a room like this for both years. Seeing as I’m incredibly nosey curious and LOVE looking at people’s accommodation and housing, I figured some of you may be interested in seeing what kind of accommodation I live in while at University, and also how I choose to decorate my room while I’m here.

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You can see pretty much all of my room on this photo. I am stood near the entrance, and to my right is a small wet room consisting of a toilet, sink and shower. I also have to apologise for the terrible quality of these photos! The lighting made it really difficult to get a good shot- sorry! This photo also gives you a good idea of the amount of storage I have in my room. I’m very lucky to have a lot of shelving over my desk-something that is very much necessary for a crafter! I also keep all my folders and textbooks up here. You can also see three drawers: one for hair products and styling equipment, one for makeup and one for underwear. Then there’s also my wardrobe; it’s a double wardrobe with plenty of space for my clothes and shoes; it also has a large shelf at the top where I keep all my cleaning equipment and an over night suitcase for when I go home for the weekend.

As you can see, I have a single bed against the wall featuring a quilt that I made last summer. I am incredibly proud of this quilt! It took me months to complete it but I love how it looks; on a side note it also washes really well! You have probably also noticed the abundance of blankets on the end of my bed- I get super chilly during winter, and seeing as the heating is turned off over night I find it best to wrap up!

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The paintings behind the bed are my own work, acrylic on canvas. I haven’t really mentioned it much on my blog before, but I love to paint. You’ll probably spot a few more of my paintings dotted about as you look through the other photos. I love having my paintings up at uni, as it makes my room feel like home!

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I always have a vase on my windowsill, although sadly it is not always filled with flowers! I keep it here for the occasions when Jason brings me flowers, and I also sometimes buy my own to brighten up my room a bit.

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My record player is probably one of my favourite things in my room, it’s a bright orangey-red Crosley make. I love vintage style and music, and it’s so relaxing to be able to have my records playing while I work at my desk. My vinyl collection is stored just above it on the built in shelving.

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Behind my desk is a really large notice board that I can pin things to. I covered this with two posters as soon as I got here; a world map and a doctor who poster (I’m such a nerd). I pin my fairy lights up here too, just under my shelving.

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The wall next to my bed also has some of my paintings stuck up on it. I hate the colour of the walls at uni, it’s a really ugly off white, so it’s nice to add a bit of colour and personality to them.

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I would not be able to get by without my TV while I’m away at uni. I wouldn’t say that I’m a tele-addict, but having a spare hour to just relax and watch a tv show at the end of the day keeps my stress levels low. I study a very full on and (at least for me) challenging subject, and I think I’d really struggle without that downtime.

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Here’s the view from the other end of my room (left) and my ensuite (right): not quite as pretty as the window end, but it does give you an idea of how much space I have here, which I thought some of you would like to see. You also get a little sneak peak at some of my other paintings that I have tacked up on my ensuite door.

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So there you have it guys! What did you think? I actually really like my accommodation here at uni. I’m very lucky to have an ensuite, and I love making my room feel like home by adding all my little finishing touches. My paintings and my posters are probably the most important things for me here, as they make my room feel much more personal.

Would you guys like to see more like this post? Let me know! I hope you enjoyed it, and I will be back on Wednesday with a new travel post- so keep your eyes peeled!

Best wishes to you all,

Maddie x

 

Homemade vanilla fudge recipe!

This recipe gives you the creamiest, most wonderfully textured vanilla fudge. A true classic, perfect as a thoughtful homemade gift for your loved ones.

Hi guys! Today’s blog post is all about how to make your own homemade fudge- yum. I’d attempted making my own fudge twice before, prior to this post, and that had turned out…well…not brilliantly to say the least. But I am a fudge addict, I LOVE fudge. My family and I used to holiday a lot in the UK when I was younger, and my dad and I would always bring back fudge. So I just had to give it a go one more time before accepting defeat.

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For me, fudge is very much a food for special occasions- as Christmas grows ever nearer, what better time to share this sweet treat recipe? When done correctly, homemade fudge makes a wonderful gift for family members and friends. And in case you hadn’t already guessed, I finally managed to do it correctly!

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After looking over a few different fudge recipes and comparing them with the one I’d previously tried from one of my own recipe books, I settled on the following method and ingredients found here on the Good to Know website. One thing that did surprise me was just how cheap the process turned out to be, using only six ingredients- most of which you’ll already have in your cupboard!

If you’d like to know how to make your own homemade fudge, keep reading!

Ingredients (makes approximately 36 pieces of fudge):

  • 450g granulated sugar
  • 85g butter (I used salted butter as this was all I had in! I’m sure unsalted butter would work brilliantly too though.)
  • 150ml milk (I used semi-skimmed milk, though I imagine full fat milk would be good too.)
  • 175g evaporated milk
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract
  • Vegetable oil for greasingP1230318

Method:

  1. To begin, place your sugar, butter, milk and evaporated milk into a large heavy bottomed pan and mix them together. Heat gently, stirring continuously, until your sugar has dissolved.
  2. Once your sugar has dissolved, increase the heat and bring the mixture to the boil, stirring occasionally to ensure your sugar doesn’t burn. Be careful as your mixture will be very hot!
  3. Continue to boil until your mixture reaches 116C on a sugar thermometer. If you don’t have a sugar thermometer- firstly, I strongly suggest you invest in one! They make life so much easier. Secondly, you can see if your fudge is done but spooning a small drop of the syrup into iced water, it should form a soft ball. (I got this tip from the Good to Know website).
  4. Once your syrup is the correct temperature, remove your pan from the heat and stir in your vanilla extract, before pouring your mixture into a square tin brushed with vegetable oil. I used a 20cm shallow square tin for my fudge.
  5. Leave your fudge to cool for approximately ten minutes before cutting it into squares. Now leave it to cool completely. Wrap in cellophane bags and tie with a pretty ribbon for a perfect homemade gift!

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I hope you enjoyed this recipe; this fudge was so creamy and very sweet, I loved it! I’m looking forward to experimenting with some other flavours now that I’ve got to grips with vanilla fudge- is there anything else you’d like to see? Peanut butter perhaps? Chocolate? Let me know! 

Best wishes to you all,

Maddie x

Pssst… if you enjoyed this post, why not share it on social media or pin it on pinterest? 

DIY Halloween candles!

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Hi guys! Now that it’s October it feels only right that I should post my first Halloween related blog post! Today’s post is a great spooky DIY for all you Halloween fanatics out there.

Say hello to my Halloween candles. My initial intent when making these candles was just to make pumpkins, but the striped Candycorn-esque candle was actually a great way of using up the excess wax that I had melted.

I love how these candles turned out! I hadn’t tried candle making in a good few years, it’s probably five years since I last tried my hand at the craft, but I loved the process of making these beauties! It was fun and really easy, and produced great results! Let’s be honest, making your own candles sounds a lot more sophisticated than it actually is… and that makes it a winner in my book! Anything that will impress my family and friends while requiring little effort on my part gets a big thumbs up from me.

If you’ve never tried candle making before, you don’t really require too much fancy equipment to get started; although I would definitely recommend purchasing a candle making kit to help get you up and running. This is usually a cheaper option than purchasing the equipment individually, and all kits come with detailed instructions and safety precautions. My first candle making kit was this Creative Candle Making kit from House of Crafts, which provided me with the moulds used in this project. I found it to be really good value for money, as you are given enough supplies to make up to 20 different fragranced and coloured candles! Plus it makes a great Christmas present for craft lovers.

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So let’s get started! 

You will need: 

  • Paraffin wax pellets, approx 500g. You can purchase 1kg of paraffin wax pellets here
  • Wick. I found a really cool article explaining how to make your own candle wick here! Great if you want to save some money.
  • A wick rod. A pencil or lolly pop stick would also work.
  • Red and yellow coloured candle dyes. I used these
  • A fragrance of your choice.
  • A mould sealer. This is just blutac or plasticine.
  • A round candle mould and a pillar mould. This is one of the main reasons I so strongly recommend purchasing a candle making kit, as you will be provided with several moulds to get you started. If however you do wish to purchase your own, I use these moulds for my candles.
  • One large and one smaller saucepan that fits comfortably inside the larger.

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Instructions:

The first thing to do when candle making is to ensure you’re working within close proximity to your cooker. Cover your work top in newspaper in order to protect it from any hot wax that may drip onto it. 

Safety tips:

  • Ensure your water level in your large saucepan is always at least as high as the wax pellets in the small saucepan. Add more water as you melt your wax if you need to.
  • Should you wax catch fire, smother with a damp tea towel. Do not add water.
  1. Prepare your moulds. You need to use a spherical mould for the pumpkin candle and a pillar mould for the Candycorn candle. Pass your wick through the small hole in the top of your mould and out the bottom, leaving around 4cm of wick poking out the top of your candle mould and 12cm of wick at the bottom of the mould to tie around your wick rod. Your wick rod is just something that you can tie your wick to.
  2. With your candle mould upside down (so you will have a large opening facing upwards where you can pour your wax in), balance your wick rod so that it is lying across the candle mould, there will usually be two little grooves on your mould here to help you do this. Tie the end of your wick around the wick rod. Pull your wick tight by the 4cm piece of wick sticking out the top of your candle and seal this end of the wick with a piece of blutac or plasticine, this is just to prevent hot wax dripping out of the mould.
  3. Your mould is now ready for your wax.
  4. Fill your large saucepan about three quarters of the way full with water. Place your small saucepan inside your large saucepan, so that it sits in the water. Begin by making the wax for one of your pumpkin candles. If you want your final pillar candle to look more Candycorn-like than mine, make your yellowy pumpkin first. Place your wax pellets in the small saucepan, you will require around 200g of wax for the mould I used, but don’t worry about melting too much. You will be pouring the excess into your pillar candle anyway.
  5. Heat your wax on a medium heat, stirring occasionally as it melts. Add your dye. You will only require a tiny amount of dye to colour this amount of wax, your dye packaging should give you some sort of guidelines for how much you need.
  6. Once your wax has melted, take it off the heat immediately and add your fragrance. A few drops of this will be sufficient, I’d say 3-5.
  7. Pour your wax into the mould and leave to cool. When you have filled your spherical mould, pour the excess wax into your pillar mould. Place your spherical mould in the fridge overnight to aid you with removing your candle rom the mould.
  8. After leaving your candle overnight in the fridge, you may remove it from the mould. To remove your spherical candle, untie your wick rod and run a blunt knife around the centre join of your mould. You should be able to ease the bottom off, followed by the top.
  9. Now make your orangey/red pumpkin using the same process. Pour your excess wax into the pillar candle on top of your yellow layer.
  10. Now make a white batch of wax by adding no dye this time. You will only need about 50g of wax. Pour this on top of the red layer of the pillar candle before placing this candle in the fridge overnight too.
  11. To remove the pillar candle, remove the wick rod and mould sealer before rapping the mould on a hard work surface firmly. Repeat this until the candle falls out.P1230793.jpg
  12. If you wish to make your candles look extra smooth and shiny like mine, you can carry out a process called glazing. Holding the wick of you candle before you cut it down to size, dip your candle in hot water from the kettle. Once the candle has cooled, polish the candle with an old pair of tights to make it extra shiny!
  13. Once you have done this, add your pumpkin’s face! I used a black permanent marker pen for this, though black acrylic paint would also work.

Ta da! There you have it, your homemade pumpkin candles. I know this post seems incredibly lengthy, but the candle making process really is simple, and great fun. Once you have mastered your basic candle making skills you can try all sorts of new colour and fragrance combinations, and maybe even try adding things like glitter into your hot wax to give your candle some extra sparkle.

That’s all from me today, I hope you’re all enjoying October and getting in the Autumnal mood! If you have any trouble with making your candles or would like to know anything more about the process, please let me know in the comments!

What have you been making for Halloween? Tell me all about it!

Best wishes to you all,

Maddie x

Note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I will earn small commission if you choose to purchase certain items that I have linked. All items that have been linked in this post have been tried and tested by me and are my favourites, though not all have been bought from the same suppliers! 🙂 

 

 

Fanciful Frocks and French Fountains

Hi guys! So a good few weeks ago I posted that I purchased a dress pattern and some wonderfully fanciful butterfly fabric from work (check out that post here!). I’d purchased the dress pattern (Newlook 6508) with the intention of getting it sewn in time for my trip to Carcassonne with Jason; after a bit of a last minute sewing frenzy the few days before our flight, I can proudly say that I did indeed achieve my goal!

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Here I am trying to look like I am not the most awkward poser ever in front of the fountain in Carcassonne town square. I love the fabric that I made this dress from. It’s a beautiful heavy cotton that sewed like a dream. I had no trouble with it stretching or pulling while I sewed it, and although it was a bit more expensive than I would usually buy, at around £12 per metre, I do feel it was worth it for the overall finish of the dress. I think the skirt falls beautifully. And besides, I only needed two metres.

The bodice is completely lined in a navy polycotton that I purchased for £3.75 per metre. This was great as it meant the dress was thick enough for me to go braless without feeling self-conscious.

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The pattern is actually a two piece, where the bodice and skirt are two separate garments that you attach to each other using the six buttons on the waistband. There are also four buttons that go down the back of the bodice. I adore the back detail on this dress, it’s one of the reasons I decided to purchase the pattern. I’m also a sucker for wooden buttons, so I just had to use these little 1/2″ beauties!

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In short, I’m really rather pleased with how this dress turned out. It was my first time inserting an invisible zip- which was a nightmare without an actual invisible zipper foot!– but I actually don’t think the finished garment looked too messy!

I will definitely be using this patten again to make a few more dresses in different fabrics, and I’m especially excited now that I know the skirt isn’t attached to the top! I look forward to making some more skirts too as I adore the pleats.

Have you sewn anything recently? Have you had a go at sewing your own clothes? Let me know how it went!

Best wishes,

Maddie x