Upcoming content- what to expect from A Little Mad Smith

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We’re going lifestyle baby! 

Yes, hold on to your hats ladies and gentlemen, A Little Mad Smith is becoming a lifestyle blog as of today.

“But Maddie, wasn’t this already a lifestyle blog?” I hear you cry! Well, yes, it was, but I had a mental rule that said every post must have a specific purpose, like a recipe or DIY. As of today the rule book is going out the window, and I will be posting whatever content I fancy.

Please do not be alarmed! Recipes and DIYs will still be a frequent feature here on A Little Mad Smith, especially when Summer comes around and I have some more free time. But in the meantime I thought it’d be fun to share with you some of the more mundane stuff about my life, so you can get to know me a bit better.

Check out my new and improved “About me” page to see what I mean!

So what sort of things can you be expecting to see from me over the next few months?

I’m hoping to get some more chatty posts up here, monthly favourites, morning routines etc. I’ll also be aiming to post some throw back posts for you all on a regular basis, to keep that creative content coming!

If I can commit to taking a photo of my face that I don’t want to immediately delete, I would absolutely love to start getting some makeup tutorials up for you all seeing as I’m a makeup addict. I’m also hoping to get some “Sister Style” and fashion posts sorted when I’m back home over Easter! Maybe some OOTDs? Who’d like to see that?

I’ll also be giving you some tips on dealing with stress, balancing a degree and a healthy lifestyle, and coping with loneliness as we get closer to exam season.

WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU GUYS LIKE TO SEE?

Please let me know what else you would be interested in seeing! Are you excited for the change? Or have you already gone and unfollowed me? (lol please don’t).

Have an awesome day,

Maddie.

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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

 

On a budget? Seven cheap but romantic date ideas

Hey guys!

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Photo by Lea Khreiss on Unsplash

So, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, we’re getting a little bit romantic today on A Little Mad Smith. First off, I have to apologise to all of you who are already sick of Valentine’s Day! I have to be honest, I’m not much of a Valentine’s Day person myself; I was one of the kids who never received a Valentine’s card while I was at school,  meanwhile some of the other girls were receiving teddybears and chocolates in abundance. Safe to say it put me off the celebration somewhat- we’ve all been there, right? 

Skip to the present day, and I still don’t eagerly mark the 14th Feb on the calendar in gleeful anticipation; but one thing that I certainly do enjoy doing is going on dates with my boyfriend Jason. Hence today’s post!

But before we begin, a little disclaimer! These date ideas are more aimed at couples who have been dating for a while rather than those wishing to woo that special someone. I’m not one to speak for others, but your Valentine might not enjoy spending your first date cycling!

BUUUTTT today is for those of you for who are all loved up and looking forward to spending some oh so important quality time with your partner this Valentine’s Day. Today I bring you my favourite cheap date ideas, for those who want a little romance without breaking the bank!

Cycling Date– One of my favourite days spent with Jason was about three and a half years ago, on the day we finished our GCSEs. We decided to go out for the LONGEST bike ride ever! It was bloody exhausting, but great fun. Neither of us really cycle much in our day to day lives- it’d been a few years since I’d last rode a bicycle before Jason and I decided to go out for a ride!- but it made a lovely change to our usual routine. If you’re lucky enough to be living somewhere warmer than ‘freezing your you-know-whats off’ this Valentine’s Day, why not pack some sandwiches and sweet treats in your backpack, have a cycle down to a local park and enjoy a mini picnic! Great exercise and great fun.

Indoor picnic– This is probably one of the most romantic things I’ve done for Jason, he’s usually the romantic one (he’s gonna kill me for saying that). To mark three years of us dating, I decided to lay out an indoor picnic in my living room to surprise him when he came round for lunch. I laid out blankets and lots of cushions, brought out my record player and the picnic baskets, and put on a load of good food. I also made some of his favourite coffee cakes. Wanting to up the romance a bit? Go all out with candles and rose petals. Put on an array of their favourite treats and have a romantic song playing when they walk in; wayyyy cheaper than a meal out, and way more intimate.

Go for a walk!– I know, I KNOW, this is so obvious. But you’d be surprised at how nice a walk just the two of you can be, especially while its chilly out. Enjoy each other’s company without getting distracted by phones and the buzz of everyday life, before coming home to a warm drink and lots of blankets! Who doesn’t love getting cosy after you’ve had your fingers fall off from frostbite? At least that would be the case with the current weather we’re having in Lancaster.

Iceskating– If you’re lucky enough to live near an ice rink like I am, then iceskating makes a really great date idea! Great fun, cheap entry and good exercise! All the while it gives you an excuse to cling on to each other for dear life- win win win win, right? 

Go to watch a little known singer or band– As some of you may know, I live near Manchester in England. This means that there are an absolute shedload of up-and-coming artists who perform at venues throughout the city all year round. Jason and I recently went to see Nina Nesbitt, with our tickets costing £12 each. I know it isn’t THE cheapest date idea, but its always a great night out for music lovers. Plus the fact the artist is up-and-coming means that the performance is likely to be in small, intimate venues, making for a great atmosphere. Don’t forget, Ed Sheeran started by gigging in pubs and small venues, so you could be watching the next big thing!

Museums and Art Galleries– If you and your SO have a shared interest for a particular artist or period in history, museums and galleries make a great date idea! Plus the best part is that they’re usually free to enter! Jason and I have visited a good few museums and galleries in our time, as we both enjoy that sort of thing, and it’s great to learn new and interesting facts together.

Movie night in– An oldie but a goodie. Who doesn’t love buying loads of junk food and sitting down to watch a film together in the comfort of your own home? Jason and I are movie addicts; we love going to the cinema to watch new releases- that’s actually what we did for our first ever date! But when money’s a bit tight, there’s few things better than stocking up on microwaveable popcorn, dimming the lights and enjoying watching a classic Rom-com.

That’s all from me today guys! I hope some of you found this post helpful and no one hates me too much for writing about Valentine’s Day! Back to normal next week- no more of this lovey dovey stuff. 

What’s your favourite date activity? Will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year? 

Let me know in the comments!

Best wishes to you all,

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

5 Top Tips to save money and stay healthy on a student budget

Carcassonne markets, fruit and veg stall

Hi all! Seeing as it’s a new year and all that, I thought I’d do something a bit different for today’s post. So, who’s been making New Year’s resolutions? I’m one of those people who only makes resolutions that I can keep, to save me from being disappointed in myself when it gets into February and I find myself surrounded by empty chocolate wrappers even though I swore I’d cut out chocolate this year- we’ve all been there. Last year my resolution was to start a regular home yoga practise, a resolution that I’m very proud to say I managed to keep! I now practise yoga daily. My only resolution for this year is to drink more water, something that I know I really should be paying more attention to.

I’m pretty sure that one of the most common new year’s resolutions is to be healthier, whether it be eat better or start a regular exercise routine. Another popular choice seems to be save more money! So today’s blog post is bringing you a little combination of the two- how to eat healthily and save money!

As some of you will know I am currently a second year student at Lancaster University, England, studying Theoretical Physics with Mathematics. Following moving out of my family home for the first time and learning to look after myself, I’ve come to know a few tips and tricks that have enabled me to really save my pennies when it counts. I also like to eat a well balanced diet, so I’ve gotten used to shopping in a manner that allows me to make plenty of healthy meals whilst saving my money.

I’ve put together my top 5 tips that I have learnt during my time as a student that have allowed me to make my money go further, whilst also maintaining a healthy and well balanced diet. Enjoy!

Meal plan! This is without doubt the most important thing I could tell you about budgeting. Weekly meal planning has saved me so much money over the past year, as it ensures I won’t go hungry while keeping waste to an absolute minimum. I will not buy anything unless I know I will definitely be using it for a meal that week. Make a plan, write your list and stick to it. Meal planning also means that you can concentrate on making meals which all use the same basic ingredients, and also ensuring that you will be eating a wide variety of healthy foods over the week ahead! Almost everything I cook will feature the same basic ingredients, whether it be a curry, chilli, risotto or quiche. I purposely buy veg that I know will work well together and in a variety of different recipes, such as onion, red pepper and mushrooms to name a few. Cook with the same kind of oil all the time to save you buying several, whether it be vegetable oil or olive oil. Purchase a few carefully chosen spices that are good all rounders, such as black pepper and mixed herbs. These will allow you to add favour to your dishes without requiring a full spice cupbpard to store them in!

Buy veg individually and focus on carbs Purchasing your vegetables individually will keep costs low. Buying just one or two carrots every week as opposed to a pack will mean that less food is wasted and also less money. I do this will all my vegetables, and usually only pay a few pence per item. You’ll already know exactly how many of each vegetable you will need thanks to your meal plan, so stick to it and don’t get carried away buying 3 for 2 cauliflowers when you know you’re only going to eat one. Opting for veg instead of fruit is also a great way of eating your five a day whilst on a budget; it’s cheaper and can be used to make several different dishes. Focusing on carbs such as rice and pasta is also a good way of maintaining a healthy diet while on a student budget. You can purchase a kilo bag of pasta for just a few quid, and it will be a great foundation for so many meal possibilities! The same goes for rice; open up your mind to curries, chilli and risotto, all using the same main vegetables, of course.

Learn the lifetimes of your groceries This is something that you will get to grips with within your first two weeks of moving away, though you probably won’t have given it much thought before. Think about it, if you live in a house with four people and you all drink milk, you’ve probably never seen that milk go off before, seeing as you all drink it daily. But if you go and buy yourself a 4 pint of milk just for you, you’re probably not going to drink it all before it sours. The same goes for your eggs, fruit, veg and meat. Learn the lifetime of your food! Once you know how long things will last, you can evaluate if its worth you buying 12 eggs or 6, and if its really worth buying a full pack of bacon just for you.

Make in bulk I have to be honest with you, I don’t freeze food. I wish I was more confident with that, but it’s just not something I’ve ever done. I do still, however, make food in bulk. Cooking for just yourself is strange, you’re dealing with much smaller portion sizes that will probably only require, like, a quarter of a pepper or something. I make things like veggie chilli and pasta salad and keep these in the fridge in tupperware for about three days. This means that I can still use full vegetables when I cook, and it gives me some really quick and easy no-cook meals later on in the week! To avoid getting bored of eating chilli three nights in a row, I’ll mix it up by serving it with rice one day, sweet potato another day and maybe tacos on the third day. But, of course, if you don’t fancy eating that much of the same thing and you’re comfortable freezing your food, by all means, go for it!

Buy the cheaper brands– OK, so I know this is probably not the piece of advice that you wanted to hear. You like your Heinz tomato ketchup and your Kellogg’s cornflakes, I get it. But cutting down costs does means that you have to make some sacrifices. I’m not saying you have to give up everything; decide which brands you cannot live with out and which ones you’re open to change with. I don’t like cheap baked beans as much as Heinz baked beans, so I still buy Heinz. But I purchase the supermarket’s own brand of bolognese sauce and honey. Making these decisions and being open to trying new brands really will cut down your weekly spending.

There you have it guys, my top 5 tips to help you save money and live healthily on a low budget. Going from living at home to managing your own finances at university can be challenging, and daunting for some, but with these top tips I guarantee that things will be a little easier.

So remember: implement your meal plan and stick to it, don’t buy perishable items in bulk, learn the lifetimes of your groceries, make large batches of food for the fridge or freezer, and be open to making sacrifices.

I hope that you’ve found this helpful, whether you be a student or simply looking for a way to cut down your weekly spending!

If you would like any more advice on food shopping on a low budget, or anything else for student life, please get in touch in the comments! You can also check out my other post on student life, Packing for university, here

Best wishes to you all,

Maddie x