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

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

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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

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!

Slow cooker roasted red pepper, tomato and red lentil soup

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Hello everybody! Today’s post is my first proper recipe. As in, this recipe doesn’t involve the word ‘cake’ anywhere. (Except right there, because I do love cake, and couldn’t go a whole recipe post without mentioning it).

Today I am bringing you my homemade roasted red pepper, tomato and red lentil soup. This soup is vegetarian, vegan and super healthy, as well as being so easy to make for a soup novice such as myself. Being a student, I find that it’s hard to find cheap and healthy meals, whilst also keeping enough time for all that important studying (or drinking alcohol, whatever’s your jam really). Plus, there are few things as satisfying as coming home to a hot bowl of tomato soup at this time of year- especially with all that Fresher’s Flu flying around!

My timetable this year involves an absolute shedload of five o’clock lectures, which only finish at six. I’m the type of person who likes to eat pretty early, so I can keep my evening free for yoga and blogging, so I wanted some quick and easy meal ideas that I could be eating within five minutes of walking in the door; after a bit of thought, I decided to get a slow cooker. Luckily enough for me, my gran owned a small, two person one which she never used. Being the best gran in the world, she decided to give it to me.

Today’s recipe was my first time using a slow cooker, and I was so impressed by how easy it was! I don’t know what I expected really, like, it literally does what it says on the tin, it cooks food slowly. But I’m the sort of person who gets excited over mundane things like managing to use a slow cooker without my uni accommodation burning down, so I was pretty impressed.

I prepared this soup in the morning before leaving for my lectures, and left it in the slow cooker for about seven hours. I’d say 6-8hrs would do the job perfectly, great for students like me who are only getting home late. To save even more time, you could always roast your red pepper in advance, or used the preprepared sort.

So what do you do? Find my recipe below:

Ingredients (makes enough soup for two people, so for my slow cooker size. You can easily double the ingredients for a larger slow cooker!):

  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 220g chopped tinned tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Smoked paprika (approx 1/2tsp)
  • Ground cumin (approx 1/2 tsp)
  • 60g red lentils
  • 375ml boiling vegetable stock
  • Black pepper (optional)

Method:

  1. If you have not already done so, begin by roasting your red pepper. Cut it in half, remove the seeds and place on a tinfoil lined baking tray, with the inside of the pepper facing down. Drizzle with some olive oil and place in the oven on 180C/ 356F/ Gas mark 4, for approximately 20 minutes,
  2. When your pepper is almost roasted, so that the skin has turned brown and began to look loose, fry your onions in some olive oil. Fry for about five minutes, until they have begun to look translucent.
  3. Add your paprika and cumin. (I use approximate quantities here because I usually just throw everything in and see how it turns out!) Add your chopped tomatoes and your lentils.
  4. Bring your mixture to the boil.
  5. When your peppers are roasted, remove them from the oven. Leave until cool enough to handle, then pull the skins off. They should come off pretty easily. Chop up your peppers and add them to your mixture.
  6. Make your vegetable stock. Pour your soup mixture into your slow cooker before pouring your boiling vegetable stock on top and mixing it all together.
  7. Place the lid on your slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8hrs.
  8. Before serving, blend your soup if you wish (I always have my soup blended!). If you own a hand blender, a good idea is to blend the soup while it is still in the slow cooker. This helps save on washing up!
  9. Season as you wish and garnish with coriander if desired. I like to serve my soup with lots of black pepper and some granary bread!

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Well there you have it guys, my first every proper recipe post! What did you think? Would you be interested in seeing more of what I eat as a student? Let me know in the comments! 

As always, thanks for reading!

Best wishes to you all,

Maddie x

 

 

My Uni room tour!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best wishes to you all,

Maddie x

 

Teeny Tiny Stationary Haul

Stationary Haul!

Hello friends! So the other day Jason and I went on a bit of a shopping spree in Manchester. I had the BEST time- I haven’t had the chance to visit Manchester in a few months and I always enjoy myself when I spend time there. If you’ve never been to Manchester, I strongly recommend that you make time to visit this magnificent city. For me, Manchester is the hub of the North West, and offers some of the best shopping in the entire North of England. I could easily blow my entire savings by spending a day eating, drinking and shopping in the city centre.

While we were there I purchased some much needed new clothes (blog post coming soon- don’t worry!), and some stationary from Paperchase. Sidenote: I’m not sure if Paperchase is an international brand, so some of you guys may not have heard of it. It’s basically just a stationary shop, but it has some of the most gorgeous diaries and pens and scrapbooks I’ve ever seen! You should check it out.

Something you probably didn’t know about me is that I am a stationary fanatic. I LOVE the stuff. When that time of year comes around again when I need to purchase some new school supplies, I practically leap with excitement. For me, very few things are as satisfying as a new notebook with fresh, empty pages just waiting to be filled.

But enough about my love affair with stationary items. While we were in Manchester I purchased this gorgeous llama notepad, shown below. (I couldn’t find this on the Paperchase website anymore sadly! I’m not sure if it’s sold out. I did however find this beautiful notepad, which is pretty similar and equally as gorgeous).P1230221

I’ve been wanting a nice notepad since starting this blog, as I thought it’d be a good idea to have somewhere where I can write down all my ideas for blog posts and recipes in one place! After much deliberation- they have soooo many beautiful notepads- I finally settled on this one. I love the embossed feel to the front cover, and it feels so sturdy! I’ll be able to throw this little guy in my satchel and go, without worrying about it getting bent or ripped.P1230220

Plus, it’s just adorable isn’t it? Everybody loves a llama.

As well as my notepad, I purchased this super cute writing set. While I’m away at university I love to write to my grandparents; they don’t have the internet so it’s really nice to be able to keep in touch through our letters. I also love the whole thing of letter writing; sitting down and taking the time to write about my week is a much more thoughtful method of communication compared to just sending a text. Even now when I receive a new letter in the post from my grandparents, I get little twinges of excitement in my stomach.P1230223

This writing set came with 30 beautifully printed sheets of paper and 15 matching envelopes, along with some labels. I love how it’s a little drawer! It’s so lovely.

I also got a great birthday card, but I can’t share that with you incase the person reads this blog! I’ll be sure to show you after the birthday though, because it is so adorable!

Anyway, that’s all folks, at least on the stationary front. I told you it was a teeny tiny haul! But I hope you enjoyed it.

Have you been buying any stationary recently? Do you share my weird obsession? Let me know!

Hugs to you all,

Maddie x

Packing for university

Packing for University

Leaving home and going to university is probably one of the biggest life changes you’ll face in your teenage years. It’s now fast approaching that time of year again; I’m sure some of my readers will know someone who’s starting uni (or college) this Autumn- or maybe it’s you! If so, congratulations!

For those who aren’t aware, I’m a second year student at Lancaster University, England. I study Theoretical Physics with Mathematics, and live in student halls.

Soooo, I was thinking that some of you might be interested in hearing about my experiences from over the past year and what I’ve learnt. I plan on doing a series of posts all about student advice, what I wish I’d known and insights into other areas of student life- is that something you guys would be interested in?  Today’s blog post is the first of the lot- my tips on Packing for University.

 

  1. Pack your creature comforts! – This is probably the most important piece of advice I could give. Moving away from home for the first time can be quite a daunting experience, at least it was for me. I’m very much a home bird- I love my bed, my blankets, my candles, my tv. Basically, I love everything that makes home home. Now, I know packing space may be limited, but I cannot stress how important making room for your homely trinkets is. Whether it be ornaments, posters, a colourful throw- bring things that will make your dorm feel like your space. It’s so important to have a homely space where you can relax and be yourself.
  2. You’re not Gordon Ramsey – Let’s be real guys, how many of you are really going to use an electric whisk? Or one of those massive kitchen knives that look like they’ve come out of a horror film? Or a garlic crusher? Leave it at home. It’s so easy to get carried away when purchasing your kitchen supplies for uni and accumulate enough to kit out a small kitchen. Don’t do it! Realistically, you’re not going to be cooking full, restaurant standard meals. I found that two saucepans, a frying pan, one good quality knife, a chopping board and a baking tray are enough to provide you with some good home cooked food without overdoing it. Your kitchen space is limited, and do you really have the cash to spare on a steel bread bin when you’re shopping on a student budget?
  3.  Don’t go hungry – A mistake most people make when moving into university is not taking any food with them for when they arrive. You’re probably not going to have chance to get to a supermarket on your first couple of days living in halls, so I always advise taking your bare basics with you to move in. I’m talking tea, coffee, biscuits, cereal. Get some snack food in so you don’t have to rush out to the nearest food store as soon as your stomach starts to rumble. I’m lucky enough to only live forty minutes away from Lancaster, so I also take chilled goods like milk and butter.
  4. Pack for the climate – Wardrobe space is limited in student halls. If you’re going to University in England or a similar climate, don’t pack summer dresses and shorts for your first term! Winter is coming (lol), so pack for it. Save space by only bringing clothes that are appropriate for the weather that you’ll be having that term. There’s no need to bring your whole wardrobe with you! You can rotate your clothes every time you go home to stay seasonal and sensible.

Well there you are guys, that’s my top four tips for packing for university. If there’s anything else you’d like to know, please ask! I’m happy to help. Are you going to university this time? Let me know!

Hugs to you all,

Maddie.