Sugar Cookies and a Farewell

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Hey guys! So… its been a while. It’s been a crazy busy few months since we last spoke; I do wish I’d managed to keep up my regular blogging over my third year of uni but unfortunately it just had to fall to the bottom of the priorities list. People tell you Physics degrees are difficult but dear Lord, no one tells you quite how difficult. It’s been an exhausting few months, both with uni work and other things going on.

I’ve decided to give the blogging a break for a while until I have a few more free hours to spare, so I’m afraid this will be the end of A Little Mad Smith, at least for now. Hopefully, eventually I’ll find my way back to blogging, but unfortunately now just isn’t the time.

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So, it’s with great sadness that I write this last farewell post for you all, but with hope that it won’t be my last blog post ever. I thought today I’d finally upload my sugar cookie recipe seeing as I’ve been meaning to for almost five months now (!!!). My mum’s friend grew up in America and gave me this recipe over Summer; she makes THE BEST sugar cookies, and when recreating her recipe on my own it’s safe to say I wasn’t disappointed. I managed to find time to make a few of these yummy treats before Christmas and they seemed to go down very well with my family and friends. Despite half of me wanting to completely cover these cookies in icing and sprinkles, I actually really love the taste of plain sugar cookies and showed great self-restraint when decorating.

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These are ridiculously easy to make and you aren’t required to chill your dough, that’s a win-win in my book. Find the recipe below.

Ingredients:

  • 1 pack (225g) salted butter (softened)
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 3 cups self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees celsius. Sprinkle flour evenly on two baking trays.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together. Add in the egg and the extracts.
  3. Sieve in the flour. Combine well to form a soft dough.
  4. On a floured surface, roll out the dough to about 1/2 cm thick. Cut out shapes using cookie cutters of your choice and place carefully on the floured baking trays. Bake cookies in the oven for 7-8 minutes or until they begin to go a golden brown colour.
  5. Immediately remove cookies from the baking tray and place on a cooling rack to cool. Decorate as desired.

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Ta da! See, told you they were super easy. I was actually amazed this recipe turned out so well on my first attempt back in summer, since my cookie recipes usually require some practice. These, however, turned out brilliantly first time, and I’ve been making them pretty frequently ever since!

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So, that’s it from me I’m afraid guys. I’m busy as ever and plan on spending the rest of my afternoon getting sorted for a mini break with Jason- we fly tonight. After that it’s back to work as I return to uni for my second term of third year, something that I can’t say I’m looking forward to very much. If you fancy keeping up with my life and seeing what I get up to, feel free to follow my instagram @alittlemadsmith.

And lastly, a massive thank you to all my readers, followers and friends who’ve been following this blog since the beginning, it’s been my pleasure.

Best of luck to you all in 2019 and into the future,

All my love,

Maddie x

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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!

 

My first attempt at sugar cookies

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I see sugar cookies all the time on social media. Birthday sugar cookies, baby shower sugar cookies, wedding sugar cookies, Christmas sugar cookies. I can’t seem to get away from them when I’m scrolling through Pinterest, but I’ve never actually had a go at making my own sugar cookies before. Well, until now that is.

I get the impression that sugar cookies are a much bigger thing in the US than they are here in the UK. The only time I’ve eaten sugar cookies before is back when I was at Primary school; my mum has a friend who grew up in Hawaii, and she always made sugar cookies for us to decorate when we went round to her house. (Side note: I loved going round to her house.)

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So, armed with a bit of spare time and some good old nostalgia, I decided to have a go at baking my own sugar cookies. My mum’s friend was kind enough to give me her recipe, so I was able to make the exact same yummy cookies that I remember eating as a kid.

I was really pleased with how these cookies turned out for a first attempt. They tasted just like I remember, and were perfect for icing. I decided to keep things pretty simple and go with a butterfly design for these cookies, but I’m excited to experiment and see what other designs I will be able to come up with using some different cookie cutters.

I’m already planning on making some of these for my 21st birthday party next week, so I’ll be uploading a recipe soon! I’m hoping to have a go at making some cacti cookies, what do you think?!

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Have you ever made sugar cookies? Do you agree that they’re way more popular in the States?

Let me know in the comments!

 

 

Victoria sandwich cake and party planning

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Hey guys, how’re we all doing?

Despite only working three days a week at the moment, I’m feeling pretty worn out. When I go back to uni in October I know that I’ll be buried in a mountain of work once again, so I’m trying to fit as many things into this summer as I can. While this is great in some respects- I’m churning out enough baked goods to feed a small family for a year- I’m also feeling like I just don’t have enough time to fit everything in.

As I mentioned in my last post, it’s my 21st birthday next month, so I’m busy looking forward to that. I’m not having a proper party- I decided to spend the money on a trip to Rome with Jason instead- but I am having some family round on the day to celebrate with me. Naturally, because I’m me, having a few family members round has turned into a themed celebration, so despite the small 18 people long guest list, I’m pulling out all the stops to create an awesome Latin American themed fiesta.

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I studied Spanish at school and fell in love with the language, going on to develop a huge appreciation for both Spanish and latin American culture as I’ve gotten older. Hence when I was thinking about a summer party theme, my mind instantly went to sunshine, papel picado and mojitos. Sadly, here in North England the sunshine isn’t a given, but with plans for a DIY cocktail bar and several Mexican paper crafts already underway, the other two are looking likely.

Alongside my fiesta planning, I’ve also done some very English baking for my Dad. Unfortunately my Dad’s birthday is in May, right in the middle of exam season, so I didn’t have time to make him a birthday cake this year. To make up for this I made him his favourite Victoria sandwich cake the other day while I was off.

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I love Victoria sandwich cake. Like, what’s not to love really? It’s the perfect combination of soft sponge cake, sweet jam, and light and airy cream. I personally prefer cake with buttercream instead of fresh cream, but seeing as this was for my Dad I sandwiched the sponges together with a whipped double cream and strawberries mixture, his fave.

It’s safe to say this cake went down very well- two days later and it’s almost all gone! If you fancy making your own Victoria sandwich cake, try using my vanilla sponge cake recipe.

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I’ve got plenty more baking planned for over the coming weeks, mainly preparations for my birthday- yay!

What have you been up to this week? Let me know in the comments!

Guess who’s back, back, back… feat. Unicorn Birthday Cake

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Well hello there guys! It’s me, Maddie, hello. It’s been a while! Like, a hell of a while! Sorry!

The build up to Summer was a hella busy time for me; I was preparing for my summer exams, then doing my summer exams, then working full-time for a month as part of an internship. At last, I am now back in my home town of Chorley and looking forward to a reasonably quiet month when I will be able to dedicate some more time to my blog. The quiet time will not last long though, September will be an exciting month for me; not only will I will be turning 21, but Jason and I will be celebrating five years together by a trip to Rome.

Yes- my 21st birthday, which is super scary because it means I’ll be a proper adult and I’m still not very good at adulting, despite having lived alone for the majority of the past two years. Buuutt it does mean that I’m getting things ready for an awesome 21st fiesta, so keep your eyes peeled for some cool DIYs and party decorations up on the blog over the next month or so.

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First up though, today’s post is featuring this awesome cake that I made last week! Jason’s mum asked me to make a unicorn themed birthday cake for one of her friends and I have to admit, I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. Like, I’m no cake decorating expert, so I’ll be the first to say it could definitely have looked a little neater, but hey, I think it gives the little guy character.

I had a great time making this cake. It was the first bit of baking I’ve done since Christmas- and it was a great way to get me back into the swing of things! Despite being a bit of a mammoth project to begin with, I think the outcome was definitely worth it. Sadly I’ve no photos of the inside of this cake (I couldn’t cut into before the birthday girl after all!), but it was made with three layers of pink vanilla sponge cake, sandwiched with pink buttercream and lots of sparkles!

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The mane of the unicorn was created using buttercream in four different pastel shades, while I used regal icing to make the horn and ears. I painted these gold by using a mixture of golden baking dust and almond extract- this part smelled so good you guys.

Unfortunately we’ve been having freakishly hot weather in the UK this Summer, and the day I made this cake was no exception! This did lead to some of the butter in the icing oozing out as it melted, which is the yellow liquid you can see on some of these pictures. This was a problem that I’ve never encountered before in my baking, but I’ve since been wondering about how to avoid this happening in the future. Does anybody have any methods to avoid this with their bakes? If so, I’d love to hear them in the comments!

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If you’d be interested in seeing a step by step post on how to make this cake, please let me know in the comments! I’d be happy to create that for you guys.

I hope you’re all having great summers, and perhaps also looking forward to some of my upcoming posts!

Maddie.

Sister Style- Spring edition!

 

 

When I came to the decision to restyle my blog a couple of weeks ago, I really wanted to start incorporating more fashion posts. I wouldn’t say that I’m a fashionable person, but I’m still a sucker for all those beautifully styled Instagram photos of super trendy women in gorgeous clothing. I just said ‘trendy’, I’m so lame.

I’d actually love to have one of those super fashionable Instagrams, as I bloody love clothes; the issue is I hate being in front of the camera, which makes shooting photos to accompany fashion and beauty related posts pretty difficult. As you will be able to tell from most of these photos, I’m a pretty awkward poser. Body confidence isn’t something I possess in abundance.

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But those of you who have been following my blog for a while now will know that my sister, Hannah, loves being in front of the camera. Hannah loves all things fashion and has a pretty hefty clothing collection. Hence when I do decide to do a fashion post, Hannah is my go to.

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Today’s sister style had kind of a sports-luxe vibe- well, at least that’s what I thought, like I say, I ain’t no fashion guru. The weather has finally started to warm up (well, it’s not snowing anymore) here in Lancashire, so we decided to forgo coats and really embrace the ‘Spring’ weather.

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We had great fun shooting for this blog post, as much as I hate having my picture taken, it’s always a nice way to spend an afternoon with my sister.

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I decided to wear this Topshop bodycon dress that I bought a few weeks back. Since the weather’s been so bad up here recently, this was really the first time I’ve had chance to wear it. I paired it with a white t-shirt underneath for a bit of extra warmth and then an Asos denim jacket (courtesy of Hannah!). I love the colours of this dress, I think it has a real 70s vibe that I am totally digging.

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Those of you who saw my last sister style post will know that I am mad about these leather boots. My parents bought me them from Dune for my 20th birthday back in September and I’ve hardly stopped wearing them since! I usually wear these with knee socks when the weather starts to warm up a bit, I have a love of knee socks and mini skirts.

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Resident model Hannah opted for a loose jumper from Stradivarius, paired with some back cropped trousers from Pretty Little Thing. Hannah is lucky enough to have tiny feet, so her shoes are actually kid’s Reebok Classics! I’m so jealous of her shoe size -_- (Plus she has the best selection of shoes and I can’t steal any of them).

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There you have it guys, I hope you enjoyed this lil’ sister style post! I always have so much fun doing these posts for you, let me know if you like seeing them!

Hope y’all had great Easter weekends,

Maddie.

 

My makeup collection- Eye shadow palettes!

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So those of you who follow me on Instagram (if you don’t, what you doin’? Let’s just take a minute to stop reading and go sort that out right now: @alittlemadsmith) will know that I recently did a little poll to see who would be interested in seeing my makeup collection- and I was pretty overwhelmed with all of the responses!

I’m a bit of a makeup collector. You could say that it is the one addiction that I have, as well as cheese of course. I’ve never really been bothered by handbags or shoes, but makeup is just that one thing that I am obsessed with. I guess it’s kind of stemmed from my love of art. I didn’t actually wear any makeup until I was almost fifteen; to be honest I found the whole thing pretty daunting at first. I remember feeling incredibly embarrassed whilst buying my first mascara from a box of sale items in Boots when I was fourteen Oh, how things change.

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Jump forward six years and I am now somewhat of a makeup junkie, though limited from becoming full on makeup junkie due to the restrains of living on a student budget. Most of the makeup in my collection is from the odd splurge after saving for several months, or presents from birthdays and Christmases.

Instead of writing an absolutely MASSIVE blog post where I talk about every single product I own, I thought I’d break this down into a mini series, so that I can give you all a bit more detail on each product.

Up today is my eyeshadow palette collection! Eyeshadow palettes are my main addiction; if you let me choose between buying a new foundation or a new eyeshadow palette, the palette would win every time. The artist in me loves colour, and I’m drawn to anything that shimmers. Of course, I have a lot of palettes with neutral colour schemes in my collection, but I still get very excited when I see a bright and colourful new release. I’ve had my eye on the Juvia’s Place Zulu eyeshadow palette for months now, still saving those pennies. 

Disclaimer- I have no clue why almost all of these are from Urban Decay!! I’ve actually been dying to get my hands on some of the Anastasia Beverly Hills palettes (that Soft Glam tho), some more Morphe ones, Juvia’s Place and Colourpop (but that international shipping cost *cries*). Unfortunately since my interest in makeup has really peaked, my income has really dropped. The last two years at uni haven’t left me with much spare change, so most of these palettes are from back in the day when I thought Urban Decay was the only brand in the history of ever.

Naked 2- Urban Decay

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This was the first eyeshadow palette that I ever purchased. I had just turned 18 and decided that I wanted to try out some more high end makeup; there was A LOT of hype surrounding the Naked series at the time. My friend Gabby had actually recently done my makeup for a party (it was that time in our lives when everyone we knew was turning 18), and she used this palette on my eyes. I was well and truly convinced that this palette was the best thing ever, and immediately went out and purchased one for myself.  This was actually my second ever high end purchase, after the Naked foundation. As you can tell, I wasn’t very adventurous and bought everything from the same makeup counter.

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This palette is great quality, but it isn’t something I reach for regularly when doing my makeup. It actually has more of a cool toned colour scheme, and I’ve since come to realise that I much prefer warm tones. I do still use the gold shade (Half baked) from time to time though and apply it onto my lid with my finger, its a really pretty shadow.

The Electric Palette- Urban Decay

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I went crazy for this palette. Like I said, I love colour, and boy did this palette have colour. I remember at the time I bought this palette I had just started working Saturday nights at a pub as a barmaid; once a week before work I would spend an hour creating some crazy ass eye look that the locals would always comment on. I owe most of my makeup skills to this palette really, it really taught me how to master the art of blending.

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I still adore the pigmentation in this palette, I was swatching it before writing this and OH MA GAWD I’d forgotten how good the shadows were! It isn’t the most wearable palette in the world, but I love it. Plus you can use the dark pink shade (Jilted) and the silver shade (Revolt) alongside other shadows to create more wearable looks, something that I do quite often.

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Naked Smoky- Urban Decay (See a theme here?) 

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For some reason I have always had an obsession with ‘smoky eyes’. Even before I bought my first eyeshadow, I would paint paintings with said ‘smoky eyes’. Something about it just seemed so mysterious and sexy to me. Hence when I saw that Urban Decay had a smoky palette I went bananas for it. I was a very happy girl that year for Christmas when my nan and granddad bought me this bad boy.

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I’m sad to say, like the Naked 2 palette, this isn’t one that I reach for much anymore. The brown tones are just a little too cool for when I want to do a bronze smoky eye, and I never really use grey shadow anymore. Though I can’t lie, once again the feel and blend of these shadows is great.

The Jaclyn Hill Palette- Morphe

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The most recent addition to my palette collection! For those who don’t know, Jaclyn Hill is a beauty youtuber who created this palette in collaboration with Morphe. This is my favourite palette hands down. It’s got cool tones, warm tones, transition shades, highlight shades, neutrals, pops of colour, shimmers, mattes- EVERYTHING you could want from a palette. And the blend on these shadows is unreal, especially for the price. Not a lot of fall out but highly pigmented colours, I can’t tell you enough how much I love this palette.

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Naked Ultimatte Basics- Urban Decay

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Another Naked palette- I know! Younger Maddie was scared of trying new things, ok? I actually love the warmed toned deep orange shade (Extra Bitter) in this palette, for me it makes the whole thing worth it. It was the first shadow I had in this sort of colour and I loved it, I started doing dark smokey eye looks with this in the crease for a really warm transition and I loved the way it turned out. I also love the deep mauve colour (Lethal); I did a few cut creases with this in the crease and gold on the lid which looked really pretty.

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If you like matte shadows and creating neutral looks, this palette would definitely be one to invest in. The shades have a good level of pigmentation, but it’s not so much that it would be daunting for a beginner. Plus theres a really good matte black in here, which everyone needs.

Full Spectrum Palette- Urban Decay

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Biggest waste of money EVER! These shades are so ridiculously not pigmented, and pretty dusty and dry. Even when I tried applying them with my finger, the colour pay off was just not what you’d expect from a palette in this price range. I was so disappointed by this as I had been looking forward to purchasing it for a while and was so excited by the colour scheme!

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I’m not sure if maybe I just bought a dud or if they were all that bad. Either way, this was not what I was expecting from the same brand who brought us the highly pigmented electric palette. I hardly ever use it.

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Naked Heat- Urban Decay

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Let’s leave this eyeshadow palette collection on a good note! My sister bought me the Naked Heat palette for my 20th birthday- she’s the best. Being the lover of all things warm toned that I am, this palette was a sure win for me. I love it, it’s the one of my Naked palettes that I reach for the most. I love creating really blown out dark smokey eyes with this palette.

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There you have it guys! Did you enjoy this little run through of my eye shadow palette collection? What part of my makeup collection would you like to see next? Be sure to let me know in the comments! 

Maddie.