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!

 

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!

 

Love birds!- DIY modelling clay owls

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Hey guys!

I am soooo ready for spring at the minute. As of tomorrow afternoon I will be having a short and much needed break from university life, and will be making the journey down the motorway to spend the weekend at home with my family and Jason. I had been intending on taking my winter coats home to be put away for another year and busting out my spring time jackets- as those of you who live in the UK will know, this will sadly not be the case. Most of the UK (and a good chunk of Europe, actually) has been hit with some serious snowfall for this time of year. Luckily for us Lancashire folk, the Northwest has managed to escape the worst of it; however we are being battered by incredibly strong winds.

So even though we’re not experiencing that warm Spring weather that I’ve been anticipating for so long, this miserable climate is good for one thing- staying in all day and crafting! As my regular readers will know, I haven’t had much time for crafting recently (or anything else for that matter!). My degree is pretty full on, so I’m always grateful of any chance I get to spend some time doing something fun. (Not that Physics and Maths aren’t fun… LOL.)

As luck would have it, I ended up with a couple of hours spare the other evening. Enter my modelling clay owls! 

I recently uploaded a post about my first attempt with my new FIMO clay and asked if you guys would be interested in seeing some little tutorials and more creations. As always, you were lovely (thank you!!) and great fans of my little dinosaur, so today I’m bringing you a quick tutorial on how to make these little love birds!

These two owls are actually going to be a birthday present for my gran. She’s owl mad and has a huge collection of little owl ornaments, so I thought it’d be a cute idea to make her these little guys to join the family.  Like I stressed in my last post, I am by no means a professional standard clay modeller. You can also probably tell from the photos of these owls that I accidentally got pen on the blue little guy, oops. But I’m still kind of happy with how they turned out!

Fancy making some? Find out how below!

To make one owl:

  1. In the colour that you want the body of your owl to be, roll out a small ball of FIMO clay in between your palms. Once you have a nice smooth sphere, place it on your work surface and press down lightly with your palm so that you have a circle of around 1cm thick. Begin shaping the body of the owl, as shown below. To get the ‘ears’, place your pinky finger at the top of your circle and mould the clay around it. P1240286
  2. Once you are happy with the body of your owl, in a contrasting colour clay or a lighter shade like I did, roll out three small balls, much smaller than the body of your owl was. You want two of these to be the same size, and one to be slightly bigger. Using your palm, press your balls flat until they are about 2mm thick. These will be the wings and stomach patch for your owl, as shown above.
  3. In white clay, roll out two small balls. Press them down lightly with your palm, but not as much as you did with the body of the owl. These will be the owl’s eyes.
  4. Assemble your owl. Place the wings on either side of the body and the stomach patch on the front. Add the eyes in the desired position. You will not have to apply a lot of pressure in order to get your pieces to stick together, be gentle. P1240291
  5. Out of orange clay create a very small triangle and press this on just under the centre of the eyes. To help your owl stand up, from the same clay as you used for the body of your owl, create a small triangle. Add this to the back of you owl to act as a little support for when it is stood up.
  6. Bake your owl in the oven according to the directions on the packaging of your clay.
  7. Once your owl is cooked, remove it from the oven and leave it to cool completely before handling it. Once cool, add two black dots for eyes. Ta da!

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There you have it guys, I hope you enjoyed this quick little DIY- maybe it inspired some of you to have a go playing with FIMO yourselves! I must admit I am really enjoying it the more I play around with it; it’s great fun and you can be really creative with your designs. I can’t wait until I have some more time on my hands to see what I can come up with! 

Best wishes to you all,

Maddie x

Trying out Modelling Clay- Dinky Dino!

Find out my first impressions of FIMO modelling clay when I tried making this super cute dinky dinosaur!

Hey guys!

Only a short post from me today- I just wanted to show you all this little modelling clay dinosaur that I’ve made and tell you a little bit about him! Would some clay modelling DIYs be something that you would be interested in seeing? Let me know in the comments! 

So for Christmas this year I received some FIMO professional modelling clay. It’s worth noting that ‘professional’ is simply in the title of the product, and I myself am definitely NOT a professional standard clay modeller (incase you all couldn’t already tell that from the little guy featured above).

Like most things, life got in the way and prevented me from having the chance to open up the clay and give some clay modelling a go, until yesterday evening, that is. The result of forty minutes playing around with the green and yellow clay lead to this little guy, my dinky dinosaur.

This guy is so tiny! But I actually am pretty pleased with how he turned out. Plus his size makes him super cute. I didn’t have any special tools or anything so I had to make him all just using my fingers; this made it kind of tricky, especially because I have such long nails (you can see some little indentations made on his stomach and leg where I accidentally caught him with my thumb nail, oops!) If I were to decide to take up clay modelling as a business, I’d sure as hell invest in some quality tools, but seeing as I was just making this little guy for fun I wouldn’t say they were necessary.

I’m thinking of making a few little dinosaurs as pencil toppers and writing a DIY for the blog- is that something you guys would be interested in seeing? 

How about a review of FIMO clay once I have played with it a bit more? 

Let me know in the comments! 

Best wishes,

Maddie x

 

Meet the girls- my painting collection

Helloooo lovely reader: So, I got a bit carried away (again) with the intro for this post, so if you just wanna skip to the pretty pictures, you just scroll on down my friend, I won’t judge. Well, much 😉

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‘Carnival Queen’ (WIP- left) and ‘Nebula’ (right). My two acrylic on canvas works.

Hello guys!

So I know it’s been a while since I last posted something on here- I’m sorry! Things got a lil’ hectic with me moving back up to university in mid January, and I actually managed to leave my camera at home- shock horror! So as a result I was left unable to take any photos to go with my blog, and let’s be honest, it ain’t really a great blog if there’s no pretty photos for you all to look at!

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No name. Self portrait, acrylic on paper.

Aside from the accidental leaving the camera at home fiasco, it has also been an incredibly busy few weeks for me in terms of academic workload. I. Am. Exhausted. Second year Theoretical Physics with Maths is NOT a walk in the park, and the lecturers are clearly sadistic and really enjoying watching us struggle as we try to learn all the new content that’s being thrown at us… at least that’s how I see it.

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Carnival Queen- Work in progress

But I have to say, it feels darn good to be back!

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‘Cuentos de Hadas’ feat. Zoe.

I am so excited about the content that I’m going to be posting on my blog during 2018; I can’t wait to finally find time to do some more DIYs and yummy recipes for you all. I also want to start adding a few more ‘lifestyle’ posts, seeing as that is what I originally started A Little Mad Smith for.

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No name- a quick self portrait.

So that brings us to today’s post. Reunited with my camera, today I’m bringing you a happy mixture of my usual craft style post with just a hint more ‘lifestyle’ thrown in for good measure; today we get to have a little look at my paintings!

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‘Nebula’ feat. Olivia

Meet the girls- a collection of my favourite paintings that have made their way onto my walls at university. I adore painting female portraits, and I’ve steadily accumulated a little collection over the past two or so years as I’ve honed my technique and discovered my style.

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‘Night Dreaming’ feat. Fairlight

I LOVE painting. I love art. I studied two art subjects at GCSE level when I was in high school, before going on to study an A level in Fine Art at college. My interest for portrait painting was really sparked when I was 16, and I discovered the work of three artists in particular: Charmaine Olivia, Paula Bonet and Agnes Cecile. These women paint the most beautiful portraits I have ever seen, and all three have such unique styles! I immediately fell in love with Charmaine Olivia’s wonderful use of colour in her oil work, Agnes Cecile’s dramatic watercolour technique and Paula Bonet’s unique mix of pencil and water colour.

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‘Festival Queen’ feat. Chloe

These three women have been a huge inspiration to me, and have massively influenced my own artwork over the years. I don’t have time to paint as much anymore, due to my intensive degree subject, but whenever I get the chance I always enjoy picking up a paintbrush and seeing where it takes me.

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‘Night Dreaming’ feat. Firelight

For those who were wondering (if any), yes, I am super sad and name my paintings. Not all of them, but sometimes some of them just look like an Olivia or a Zoe and I name them that. Almost all of these are drawn originally using a photo of my face as a starting point, but they hardly ever turn out looking like me. I like to give each one it’s own personality and style.

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No name. Self portrait, acrylic on paper.

This painting here was one of the first I tried in acrylic. I was super happy with how it turned out, I really like the contrast of the blue with the orange. This is one of the only few that actually kept a bit of a resemblance to me in it, at least I think so. I especially love that she’s holding a pencil.

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The festival queen pictured below is called Chloe. One of the funnest parts of doing this one was adding all the feathers to her hair (above); it turns out they’re actually really easy to paint! Chloe actually turned two last week, I painted her back when I was 18 just after Christmas with a new set of paints that I’d gotten from my parents. She’s one of my favourites.

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‘Festival Queen’ feat. Chloe

So that’s all from me today guys, I hope you enjoyed this little look at some of my artwork! I really do miss having the time to spend on painting that I used to, but that’s why I love having this blog as a creative outlet for me!

I’m hoping that I can find more time for my art throughout 2018; I’m also actually hoping to start a bullet journal which I intend to document on here!

Do you enjoy painting or drawing? Or is your creative outlet something different? Let me know in the comments! 

Thanks to you all for reading, and best wishes to each and every one of you. It is a genuine pleasure to be able to interact with you all as I do and I am incredibly thankful for it. 

Until next time,

Maddie x

 

 

Making Beeswax Soap- Review and How To!

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Hello you lovely people! How are we today?
Today’s post is all about my first experience of beeswax soap making! As some of you may remember, for my birthday back in September I did a HUGE Hobbycraft haul, returning home with innumerable crafting goodies, supplies and kits that I was just dying to try out. One of those kits was this Kirstie Allsopp Beeswax Soap making kit.

Soap making is one of the few popular crafts that I hadn’t tried out prior to purchasing this kit, and I was super excited to give it a go and see how it turned out. There were a couple of other soap making kits available at Hobbycraft during my visit, but I loved the luxurious vibe of this one, thanks to the beeswax.

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So how did I find it? 

This kit retails for £10, and contains enough ingredients to make four square soaps. You also get a mould for your soap, an instruction booklet with some background information on the process of soap making, and an inspiration booklet.

This kit uses a Melt and Pour base to make the soap. This means the process is super easy, and all you have to do is melt the base, add your preferred fragrance and colour, before pouring into your moulds. Your soap will be ready to use after just a few hours of setting time. This makes the kit great for novice soap makers, like me, and great as a gift for young adults too.

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The process was super easy and I was really pleased with the result. I began my soap making endeavour by melting my beeswax pellets in a double boiler and setting it to one side. Once I had done this, I melted the soap base in the double boiler before adding the beeswax.

I then removed my mixture from the heat and stirred it thoroughly, before adding a few drops of fragrance. Then all I had to do was pour the mixture into the provided mould and allow my soap to cool over night!

I loved the look of the finished soap, and actually ended up wrapping some up to gift to friends over Christmas. Also, the fragrance provided with this kit smells divine- it’s a wonderful sweet honey scent.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed making this soap, and I think this kit would make a great gift for the crafters in your life who are wanting to try something new.

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Do I think it’s worth the money? 

I do think this kit is worth the £10 I paid for it. I had great fun making the soap and it does make a wonderful homemade gift for friends and family.

I probably wouldn’t repurchase this kit, but I would definitely purchase the soap making ingredients individually. I usually find with trying out new crafts its always better to start out with a kit and then purchase your ingredients separately from there on; it normally makes things cheaper in the long run, and prevents you from repurchasing unnecessary instruction booklets and moulds.

That’s all from me today folks! I hope you’re all having a wonderful January, best wishes to you all! 

Love as always,

Maddie x

Christmas stocking DIY

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Hello! One week today until Christmas; are we all excited?! I’m back home from university and fully getting into the festive swing of things. Following a wonderful (but cold!) Friday night spent with Jason at the Manchester Christmas markets (featuring food, mulled wine, and more food), I’ve spent the weekend watching Christmas movies with the family.

I like to think that I am an incredibly organised person. I always have my coursework ready to hand in the day before it’s due, and I plan my meals for the week way in advance- but somehow this Christmas has completely sneaked up on me and I am feeling totally unprepared! I’ve still got a shed load of Christmas making and baking that I want to do- that was today’s job!- and I haven’t even finished my Christmas shopping yet! I still need to make some Christmas cards too. In short, I’m exhausted. But thoroughly enjoying myself.

Today I bring you one of the few Christmas projects that I made well in advance of December! I actually made this Christmas stocking back in September, before I’d even started my second year of uni! Now, one term in and one week away from the special day itself, I finally got around to getting it up on the blog for you all to see!

I love this stocking! It took very little time to make and I think it turned out looking great. It was a pretty easy sewing project, great for beginners as you get to practise two different types of machine stitching.

For this project you will need:

  • Approx 1/2m of fabric for the body of the stocking. (I decided to use a different fabric for the front and the back of my stocking because I couldn’t decide which I preferred- haha!).
  • A contrasting white fabric for the top of the stocking
  • A contrasting Christmas fabric for your initial
  • Matching thread
  • A small piece of ribbon
  • Fabric scissors
  • A sewing machine
  • Greaseproof paper or similar to create a template
  • Chalk
  • Pins

Instructions:

  1. Begin by drawing and cutting out your template. I drew my stocking shape by hand, but if you’re not too confident in your drawing ability you can find plenty of stocking templates and sewing patterns online! If you are drawing yours by hand like I did, remember to include enough fabric for a seam allowance (that is, the fabric that will be inside of the seam once you have sewn the front and back of your stocking together).P1230071
  2. Place your template on the right side of the fabric that you want the main body of your stocking to be made out of. Draw around it using some chalk, before carefully cutting the shape of the front of your stocking out using the fabric scissors. Flip your fabric over so that the right side is now facing away from you, and draw around it once more, before cutting it out to create the back of your stocking. You will now have the front and back of your stocking.
  3. Now create a template for your initial. Again, I drew my M freehand, but you can find plenty of lettering that you can trace online. Place this template on top of the right side of your chosen fabric (that is, with the patterned side of your fabric facing towards you), and draw around it using your chalk before cutting it out.P1230074
  4. Place your initial on the front of your stocking. Once you are happy with the placing, pin it into place. Nows the fun part! Set your sewing machine to a zigzag stitch. You want the zigzag stitch that sews the ‘tightest’ zigzags, so its basically sewing tiny horizontal lines back and forth. This will create the thick, coloured line of thread that you see around my M. Now, carefully begin to sew around your initial using the zigzag stitch. This was actually easier than I had thought it would be, and I didn’t have any issues with the fabric bunching up. Ensure your tension is right, take your time and use lots of pins!P1230078
  5. Once you have sewn all around your initial, you can sew the front and back of your stocking together! Place the front and back together with the right sides of the fabric facing each other (so the two sides of the fabric that you wish to show when the stocking is complete should be facing each other; your initial will be on one of these). Pin around the edge and use a straight machine stitch now to sew all around the edge of your stocking, leaving the top open- you need somewhere for Santa to leave your presents! Once you have done so, trim a couple of small triangles along the seam where the stocking curves (for example, on the toe and heel). These little triangles will prevent the fabric from gathering at the seam when the stocking is turned the right way out.P1230080
  6. Turn your stocking the right way out. Now all that’s left to do is add the cuff! Use a tape measure to measure the circumference of the top of your stocking. Your cuff will have to be the same size as this opening. Add 1″ to whatever the circumference of the stocking measured (this will be for your seam allowance), and now cut a rectangle from your white fabric that is approximately this long and 10″ wide.
  7. Fold the rectangle of fabric in half lengthways (with right sides of fabric facing outwards) to produce a rectangle that is half as wide. Press with an iron to create a nice, sharp fold. Now fold the rectangle in half widthways. Pin along this open end, 1/2″ away from the raw edge. Sew along this line.
  8. Place the cuff inside the top of your stocking, so the raw edge of the cuff is along the raw edge of the stocking (ensure the seam of the cuff is visible at this stage). Create a small loop of ribbon and place it with loop pointing downwards, in between the layer of the stocking and the cuff. Pin around the top of the stocking, pinning the stocking to the cuff and the ribbon into place. If you are unsure around the placing of everything at this stage, try turning your cuff out so that it is on the outside of your stocking. You should have a nice clean seam on the top of your stocking where it meets the cuff, and the seam of your cuff should now be inside.P1230087
  9. Once you are sure you have pinned everything correctly, machine stitch along the top of your stocking where you have pinned. You can now turn the cuff out, so that it is on the outside of your stocking and all your rough edges are hidden inside!
  10. Ta da. A stocking so good, Santa would be proud.

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I hope you enjoyed this sewing project today guys, its been a while since I did a sewing DIY on the blog. Would you be interested in seeing some more? Let me know!

That’s all from me today, I hope you’re all having a wonderful day/evening, wherever you may be in the world!

Best wishes,

Maddie x