DIY Love Heart Conker (Chestnut) Wreath!

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Hello you lovely people! Lil’ disclaimer- I got a tad carried away with the intro to this post. So if you would like to forgo my waffling and skip to the good stuff, you just scroll on down! 🙂

I don’t know about you guys, but I am just not feeling quite as festive as I’d like to be at this time of year. There’s something about being at university that really zaps the fun out of the Christmas season, or any season for that matter. All I want to be doing is shopping for Christmas decorations with my family, enjoying mulled wine at the Manchester Christmas markets with Jason, and making a start on my Christmas projects; but instead I’m overwhelmed with deadlines, coursework and the responsibilities of being a fully functioning adult living on my own.

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It’s not just a lack of free time that’s the issue though, when you live away from home it kind of feels like you’re missing out on…well, life. At least for me. Not having my car up here with me makes it difficult to get out and about, and I really miss the mundane things like Sunday afternoon trips to a garden centre with my parents.

But, with all that said and done, I am really trying to get in the Christmas spirit! I mean, really trying. My flatmates have been subjected to me blasting Christmas songs from my room, and I’m trying my damn well hardest to start a few Christmas craft projects!

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Which brings us to today’s post: my DIY conker wreath! Despite it being nearly December, this wreath would’ve been a super cute edition to your decor throughout the Autumn season (and it would’ve been, if I’d got my act together and made it sooner!). But this wreath is also a perfect way of adding some Christmas cheer to your home, which is EXACTLY what I am in need of right now! Plus, this was super cheap to make! I actually had all of the stuff in for this already, so it was actually free for me! And even if you don’t have some scrap fabric lying around, you would have more than enough if you purchased a quarter of a metre! 🙂

I collected most of the conkers for this wreath back when Jason and I were holidaying in France, in late September. I have always had magpie-like tendencies when it comes to things like conkers and acorns; I remember rummaging around for them back when I was a kid- I was a pretty weird kid. Collecting conkers is something I will always associate with my childhood and Autumn, but even though I am now twenty, I still enjoy filling my pockets with shiny brown chestnuts! Skip forward a week of conker collecting in France, and I had about thirty of the beauties, and no idea of how to use them.

Enter my DIY conker wreath:

You will need:

  • Conkers
  • Strong cardboard. I used the cardboard from a shoe box.
  • Hessian/ Burlap.
  • Assorted fabric scraps
  • Ribbon
  • A glue gun
  • Scissors/ Craft knife

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  1. Draw out a heart shape on your cardboard to whatever size you want your wreath to be. Mine was about 10″ high and 10″ wide at its widest point, but this is totally up to you. Take into consideration how much fabric you have to hand and how many conkers. You could also print off a template for this if you’re not too confident in your drawing ability! 🙂
  2. Draw a smaller heart shape inside your heart so that you have your desired wreath shape. Cut around your wreath using scissors or a craft knife. Cut out the centre of your wreath.
  3. Place a blob of glue at the top of your wreath, on the front and back of the cardboard, and attach a loop of ribbon here so that you can hang your wreath.
  4. Now that you have your desired wreath shape, begin to cut out strips of hessian/burlap. You will be wrapping these strips around your wreath, so ensure that they are at least twice as wide as the wreath itself (enough to go over the front and the back of the cardboard).
  5. Using your glue gun, glue a strip to your wreath by folding it in half and placing the fold on the inner edge of your wreath, so that one half of the strip is glued to top of the cardboard and the other half is glued to the back. You want it so the ends of the strip are on the outer edge of your wreath.
  6. Repeat this with as many strips as necessary, until all of the cardboard is covered. You should have some nice texture around the outer edge of your wreath thanks to the raw edges of the hessian.
  7. Now you can start to glue gun your conkers onto the wreath! This does require quite a lot of glue, but I love the finished effect. I must say though, this isn’t a foolproof method. Some of the conkers can become a bit loose when the glue dries. I’d recommend ensuring that they are securely stuck down with lots of glue, and of course being careful with your wreath when dry.
  8. Now that you have added your conkers, cut out some strips of assorted fabric. You want these strips to be about 3″ long.
  9. With one strip, twist it in the centre so that you have a little bow shape. Pop a blob of hot glue in the centre, and press it onto you wreath (use a pen or similar to press the fabric down, you don’t want to burn yourself!). This is how I added the texture to my wreath, as twisting the fabric strips and attaching them in this way gives a charming 3D effect.
  10. Repeat this with as many fabric strips as you like, until you are satisfied with the overall appearance of your wreath.

Ta da! Easy as that.

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There you have it guys! Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed this post! What’ve you been making in anticipation for Christmas? Let me know in the comments!

Best wishes to you all, filled with lots of festive cheer!

Maddie x

Get festive with this DIY chestnut wreath! A great craft project for Autumn and through into winter. Bring some Christmas cheer into your home, or why not use it as a table centre piece for Thanksgiving!

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Spiced Caramel Apple Cake

 

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Hello you lovely people!

So, OK guys, here it is, the Autumnal cake recipe you’ve all been waiting for; my Spiced Caramel Apple Cake- let’s be real, does it get any more Autumnal?!

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Those of you who frequent my blog will know that I am a cake addict; I will gladly spend my day doing nothing but baking, icing and eating cake. I’d never actually tried incorporating apples (or any type of fruit in all honesty) into my cakes before, so I was pleasantly surprised by how good this bake turned out!

As it was my first time experimenting with adding fruit to my cake, I decided to keep the rest of the recipe relatively simple and stick to my basic sponge cake recipe, with a few seasonal adjustments.

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Packed full of Autumnal spices, layered with salted caramel sauce and topped off with sweet cinnamon buttercream, this cake was PERFECT for Autumn. And pretty easy to make too. I already had a jar of my homemade caramel sauce in the fridge when making this cake so I thought I’d use it- find my recipe here– though this would be just as tasty if you decided to use shop bought caramel.

Fancy making your own? Find my recipe below:

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • Approximately 6oz of apples. I used Braeburn apples, though I imagine any type of eating apple would work well. 
  • 8oz butter or Stork margarine
  • 8oz light soft brown sugar plus a small amount to cover your apple pieces with.
  • 8oz self raising flour
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice

For the buttercream

  • 12oz icing sugar
  • 8oz butter or Stork margarine (room temperature and cubed)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

For the salted caramel sauce (This makes one small jar full- you won’t need it all!)

  • 200g granulated sugar
  • 90g salted butter, room temperature (You could also just use unsalted butter if you did not wish to make salted caramel sauce)
  • 120ml double/heavy cream
  • 1tsp salt

 

P1230389.jpgMethod:

  1. Begin by washing and peeling your apples, before cutting them into small chunks. Mine were around 1cm squares.
  2. Pat your apple chunks down with kitchen towel to get some of the moisture out of them. You don’t want to make your cake soggy, so I recommend giving them a little press with your hand over a sheet of kitchen towel, to help get some of the excess juice out.
  3. Sprinkle some sugar over your apple pieces and leave to rest in a bowl while you prepare the rest of your cake.
  4. Grease and line two 8″ cake tins, and preheat your oven to 180C.
  5. Cream your butter and sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Beat in your eggs, one at a time, adding a little flour with each. This will help stop the mixture from separating.
  6. Sieve in the rest of your flour, and your spices. Combine your mixture thoroughly using a wooden spoon or electric mixer.
  7. Tip in your apple chunks and stir through to distribute evenly throughout the cake mix.
  8. Pour your mixture evenly into the two prepared cake tins, place in the oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes. When cooked, your sponges should spring up when pressed in the middle, and a skewer should come out clean after being inserted into the centre of your sponges.
  9. Leave the sponges in the tins to rest for a minute, before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
  10. While your cake is cooling, you can make your buttercream! Sieve your icing sugar into a bowl and add your butter. Add in your cinnamon and whisk together until you have a smooth icing consistency (this will take a while!). If your buttercream is slightly too thick, add a little milk.
  11. If you wish to make your own salted caramel sauce, do so now (find my recipe here!). Leave your sauce to cool a little before assembling your cake, you don’t want it to melt the buttercream!
  12. You can now begin to assemble the cake. Spread a thin layer of caramel sauce on one of your sponges before adding a layer of butter cream on top. Pop the second sponge on top before spreading a layer of caramel on this too, and piping some more cinnamon buttercream around the edges for decoration. I also chose to add some caramelised apple slices to my cake to make it look super fancy 😉

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So there you have it!

I absolutely love how this recipe turned out, incase you couldn’t already tell! 😉 Jason isn’t even a big fan of cinnamon, and even he liked this cake! So I think that says something about how good this tasted. I loved the contrast of the caramel with the spices and the apple, it was a PERFECT combination.

What have you guys been baking recently? Do you have a favourite bake for Autumn? Let me know in the comments, you know I love to be inspired!

Best wishes to you all!

Maddie x

Sister Style- Autumn!

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Hey guys!

So, I thought I’d do something a little bit different for today’s post. I’ve got some great crafts and recipes lined up for you over the coming weeks as we head into December, but today I’m bringing you my first ever fashion post….If you can call it that. It’s more of just a lot of photos.

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I’m not very much into fashion in a blogging sense. I love clothes, and I love the process of designing and making clothes, but I’m not much into the whole shopping thing. I don’t keep up with trends, I’d much rather base my clothes on what I like, regardless of what’s in fashion. I have a love for vintage style, good quality fabric, knee socks, bright colours and mini skirts.

Now let me introduce you to my sister, Hannah. Hannah is the complete opposite of me when it comes to clothes. Hannah likes every style, every trend and every single clothing item you could imagine. She also likes to shop, A LOT. Keeping up with trends is her jam, and her wardrobe is the evidence of it.

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Seeing as we have such different attitudes towards clothing, I thought it’d be really interesting to do a ‘sister style’ blog post showcasing what we like to wear in Autumn! The idea for this post is of course inspired by the Sister Style series on A Beautiful Mess, an amazing blog that I’m sure you’ve already heard of!

We decided to head down to Williamson Park in Lancaster to take these photos. I’ve been studying and living in Lancaster for over a year now, but I’d actually not visited this park until two weeks ago! It’s a beautiful park, and the chocolate fudge cake served in the cafe definitely makes it worth a visit.

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I’m wearing a woollen skirt that I got a few years ago from Topshop. The roll neck top is also from Topshop; I love wearing the colour mustard during Autumn, I think it makes my outfit so seasonal! This top is one of my staples at this time of year. My boots are absolutely ‘ride or die’. I LOVE these boots. My parents bought them for my birthday in September, and I haven’t stopped wearing them since. They’re leather and such good quality!

Hannah’s also wearing a Topshop dress (I swear this post isn’t sponsored by Topshop, haha!). And her boots are from Tesco, from a few years back.

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It was super fun taking all these photos! We had such a great day 🙂

That’s all from me today guys, would you like to see more of these types of posts? Let me know! It’d be great fun to make Sister Style into a recurring feature here on the blog!

Best wishes to you all!

Maddie x

 

 

Chocolate and Chopped Nut Apple Slices

These Chocolate Apple Slices are the perfect treat for fall! Crunchy apple, smooth chocolate and tasty chopped nuts make these a super tasty snack over these cold months.

Hello you lovely people! Ok, so I have a little confession to make, this post was actually meant to go up before Halloween and Bonfire Night, but I got crazy behind on my blogging schedule- I’m sorry!

But I figured that a tasty apple treat is perfect for the whole of Autumn, regardless of what festivities you celebrate. So that’s what I’m bringing you today!

There’s something oddly comforting to do with apples at this time of year, at least for me. As the Winter months roll in, I am craving hot apple cider, apple crumble and custard, spiced apple cake… you get the idea. Mixing the trusty old apple with sweet treats has something soo satisfying about it, and so homely. The thought of toffee apples takes me right back to being a kid. I remember my mum buying them in close to Halloween; I would sit and nibble all of the sugary coating off before leaving the apple. I am proud to say that my taste buds have changed somewhat, and now I enjoy devouring the apple itself too.

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Today’s recipe is a really simple, yet scrumptious idea, that’ll have you whipping up the perfect sweet treat in no time. I mixed it up a bit from the usual toffee coated apples and decided to dunk these apple slices in melted chocolate instead! This was for two reasons, primarily the fact I’m on a student budget and chocolate is much cheaper, and two because I left my sugar thermometer at home. Three because I just bloody love chocolate.

I also decided to keep things plain and simple, and stick to just apple slices rather than dunking a full apple. You could pop a lolly stick in these if you fancied making some ‘apple pops’ for a Fall themed party, but I liked the idea of having my slices on their own, as they make a great snack! (Though I will warn you that this does make them a little messier to eat!).

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I topped of my slices with some chopped nuts, and the outcome was soooo yummy. The crunchiness and juiciness of the apple, accompanied with the smooth chocolate coating and nutty flavour was delicious, and perfect for Autumn!

The best bit about these is that you can eat more of them because they’ve got fruit in… that’s totally how it works, right?

You could also whip up some of my salted caramel sauce to drizzle over the top of these apples. I have a feeling it would be HEAVENLY.

This salted caramel sauce is the perfect accompaniment to all your fall sweet treats! Pair it with apple crumble, cheesecake or on top of cupcakes for the perfect Autumn dessert combo! Best of all, it only uses four ingredients!

My Homemade Salted Caramel Sauce Recipe!

So let’s get to it!

You will need:

  • Apples. As many as you like really. As I live alone I kept it to a minimum and only used two apples.
  • A mixture of chocolate. I used 150g milk chocolate and 150g white chocolate.
  • Toppings! I used chopped nuts and golden stars on my apples, but feel free to get creative here and top with your favourite sweets or sprinkles!

Method:

  1. Wash and slice your apples. You want thick enough slices so that your apples are too delicate when you’re dunking them in your chocolate. Peel if you’d prefer, but I kept the skin on mine. Press your apple slices with some kitchen roll to help dry them out a bit before adding the chocolate, you don’t want them to be too wet.
  2. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.
  3. Melt your chocolate! I decided to cover half of my slices in white chocolate and half in milk chocolate for artistic credit, but do whatever tickles your fancy. By holding the bottom half of your apple slice between your fingers, use a spoon to cover one side of your apple in the melted chocolate. Spread it out with the back of the spoon so that you have an even layer, before turning over and doing the same with the other side. Your fingers will get a bit messy! More to lick off afterwards, right? 
  4. Place your slices down on the baking tray once you have covered them in chocolate.
  5. If using chopped nuts, sprinkle these over the top of your apple slices. Drizzle some melted chocolate over your slices in a contrasting colour. I chose to add my golden stars after this to make them really stand out!
  6. Once you are satisfied with the look of your apple slices, place them in the fridge for the chocolate to completely set!

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I keep these slices in the fridge once I’ve made them. If you’ve covered them in chocolate well enough, they keep for quite a few days and retain their juicy, crunchy texture.

There you have it guys! I hope you enjoyed this really easy and tasty recipe, if you can call it that!

I’ll be taking these with my lunch over the next few days, if I haven’t eaten them all by then!

What’s your favourite treat to make using apples at this time of year? Let me know!

Best wishes,

Maddie x

DIY Gingerbread Sugar Scrub!

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Hi guys! Today’s post is probably one of my favourite DIYs/recipes that I’ve posted. This DIY gingerbread sugar scrub was sooooo easy to make, and mainly consisted of ingredients that you can find around your house!

I think this would make a wonderful, thoughtful homemade gift for your family and friends over the coming festive season, and it doesn’t break the bank! It turns out that those fancy sugar scrubs that brands have been charging us loads for can actually be made for a fraction of the cost at home- and you can tailor them exactly what you want!

When I was brainstorming ideas for this weeks blog posts, I decided I really wanted to make a festive smelling, spiced sugar scrub. For my regular readers, it will come as no shock that I love ginger and cinnamon; you may have noticed that I put them in a lot of my bakes at this time of year. And I thought, what could be better than having extra smooth skin and smelling like one of my freshly baked gingerbread men?! Hence today’s post 🙂

Make time- 5 minutes

Ingredients (makes one tub of sugar scrub):

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 2tsp almond oil
  • 1/2tsp ginger
  • 1/2tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2tsp vanilla extract

Method:

  1. Soften your coconut oil in the microwave, heating for about 20-30 seconds.
  2. Combine all your ingredients in a bowl. Mix together using your hands!
  3. Pack your sugar scrub into a Kilner jar or a tub and pop the lid on! Left at room temperature in an air tight container, this stuff should last a few years!

There you have it guys, I told you it was super easy!

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I plan on doing a few other sugar scrub recipes over the coming months; I’d love to try adding a few different essential oils to see what combinations I can come up with!

To use simply spoon a bit into your hands when wet, rub together in your palms before applying to your legs in circular motions! I’ve used this scrub a few times already, and it is wonderful! You only need about two teaspoons to do your arms and legs, and you come out of the shower feeling super soft and smelling like gingerbread!

Have you ever tried making your own sugar scrub? What flavour- that’s not the right word, scent? ..Oh you know what I mean- did you make? Let me know in the comments!

Lots of gingerbread scented hugs to you all!

Maddie x

The Fall Tag

Hey guys!

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Today’s post is something a little bit different: my first blogging tag post! I was nominated by the lovely Maggie over on Dreaming of Guatemala for this tag. Maggie is one of the sweetest bloggers I know, and I totally urge you to check out her blog!

So what is the tag? This tag is the Fall tag (I’m English so it’s just ‘Autumn’ to me, but I’ll use ‘Fall’ in this post out of love for Maggie 😉 ). It’s basically where I get to answer a load of Autumn related questions, so you guys can learn a little more about me!

Rules:

  1. Put the tag badge and rules in your post.
  2. Answer the 10 fall-related questions.
  3. Tag at least 5 other bloggers to join the fun!

What’s your favorite fall outfit? I have a woollen tartan mini skirt from Topshop that I bought a few years back which I absolutely LOVE. I’m a sucker for miniskirts, I love that 60s style so I have an absolute tonne in my wardrobe. It’s high waisted, and has a chunky metal zip down one of the side seams. I love to pair it with a mustard colour long sleeved roll neck top and beige over-knee socks.
Your favourite drink to have in the fall? For me it has to be hot chocolate with all the toppings. I loooove hot chocolate with whipped cream and marshmallows when it’s cold outside. Costa coffee do have a Black Forrest Hot Chocolate with cherry syrup which they release nearer to Christmas. It’s not really fall, but that is my absolute favourite drink during these cold months.
Does your family have any fall traditions? If so, what are they? Yes! Every year for Bonfire night, my family and I get wrapped up in all our wooly hats and scarfs, and walk down to a local park for a bonfire and firework display. It’s a huge affair with over a thousand visitors, and I absolutely love putting my wooly clothing and wellies on for the walk! We take torches down with us, its a fantastic atmosphere.
What are some activities and events you enjoy going to in the fall months? The local bonfire is obviously the main event for me during the fall months, but I love most things at this time of year! Of course, pumpkin carving is one of my favourite activities, but I also love going for walks. There’s a park in Chorley, my home town, which I love visiting when all the leaves are turning brown. There’s also a woodland next to my house which I enjoy walking around during Autumn.
What’s your favorite fall-scented candle? I have to agree with Maggie here and say Pumpkin Spice! What else?
Tell us about one of your favorite fall memories. Either three or four years ago, I can’t remember exactly, Jason and I decided to have a ‘cold picnic’. That was, we decided to go for a picnic during early November. We got wrapped up and took a flask of tea and coffee,  and a flask of soup, along with some cheese, crackers and cakes. It was wonderful. We also brought along a blanket, so we could get warm and enjoy the beauty of the park as the leaves were changing.
What are some fall movies you enjoy watching? Hmm that’s a tricky one! Can I say Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban? There’s a lot of pumpkins in it! Haha!
What’s your favorite fall treat? This is so tricky because I love so much food! Maybe apple crumble with custard? Or Parkin cake on Bonfire night? Or treacle toffee? Ah too much choice!
If you celebrate Halloween, what is the best costume you’ve worn? Sadly my Halloween costumes haven’t been that creative as of late. Last year I went partying for Halloween, so my costume consisted of some skull facepaint that I did and a regular dress. However, the best costume that I remember isn’t strictly mine, it was Hannah’s, but it was fantastic. My mum and Hannah decided to make a pumpkin costume back when Hannah was 13. If you’ve ever seen Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, you’re on the right lines thinking of Georgia’s olive costume. It was a big orange sphere that you got inside so that your legs and arms were sticking out, complete with matching stalk hat to go on your head. It had a spooky pumpkin face and everything- it truly was a masterpiece.

So there you have it guys! My Fall Tag blog post. I hope you enjoyed this post, would you like to see more posts like this from me? Let me know in the comments!

And as for the bloggers that I nominate to do this tag, I’ve chosen some lovely ladies who’s blogs I think you guys will love! There’s plenty of great DIY and craft blogs below, so definitely go and check them out! 🙂

Glücksgeist

Little DIY Projects

Rachel’s Creative Crafts

Emma Crafts Design

Beyoutiful

Best wishes!

Maddie x

 

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