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Hen Party Crafts

On Saturday evening we hosted our first official Hen Party in our workshop. Although we have hosted a number of children’s parties, I was looking forward to a change of pace working with adults.

The afternoon of the party, I spent a hour or so getting set up for the activities ahead. As the bride-to-be had chosen a vintage theme with upcycled crafts, I decorated the room with lace effect bunting,  vintage tablecloths (actually from 60s & 70s thanks to my grandma!) and an area for nibbles with china plates and teacups.

The ladies arrived…

As the ladies arrived, we had a few minutes introducing each other before settling down to our craft – making rosettes as name badges. Some simple card designs, ribbon and a little bit of crafting magic and each person had their own name tag, but with a vintage feel twist.

To help us all relax a little more, we played a game called ‘What’s in your handbag?’. This is where you tick off which of the items you have from the list and tally up your score for each item. We had a winner when one of them pulled out a crystal egg cup and mini spoon!

The first main craft of the night was creating paper flowers. We discussed the different ways that could be used, but opted for the easiest cutting out method – a die cutting machine. A quick dab of glue and a few sparkly gems, and we had ourselves a lovely collection of unique paper flowers.

Another game and a break

A wee half hour break was decided before we progressed any further where the ladies could have a cup of tea or coffee, plus a snack before continuing. Whilst having our break, we played our second game of ‘Word Jumble’ – next time I need to check the words as we had some unusual answers!

The second main craft was designing glass jars as candle holders for table decor. The ladies seemed to enjoy working with the glue gun and various fabrics to create some really stunning pieces.

To design these we had a selection of:

  • Hessian fabric
  • Lace ribbon
  • Loose pearls
  • Strung pearls
  • Paper flowers (from earlier)
  • Wire
  • Wooden ‘Love’ embellishments
  • Twine

The end of the night

To end the night each lady was given choices of which string and charms they wished to use to make a wish bracelet and a final game of “Brides Preference – This or That?’.

The night ended and the ladies headed home – a little later than planned but having had a good night.

After a quick tidy up, I also headed home when I received a message from the bride to be;

Thanks so much for tonight really enjoyed it x

The Bride-to-be

Looking forward to the next one already!

If you would like to book and adult party for a hen party, baby shower or other event – feel free to contact us or have a look at our pricing scheme to see what we offer.
Can’t see what you fancy? Don’t worry, let us know what you would like adn we can see what we can do.

Thanks for choosing Mad Notions as your unique and interactive party venue!


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Count-down to Craft

So you’re looking for a new craft skill to learn but possibly don’t know where to start? You have a few things to consider including why you want to craft, how will you learn your new skill, how will you organise yourself, what kind of crafter will you be and finally what craft to try.

5 Reasons to craft

  1. Relaxation – Craft has often been used as a method of relaxing and unwinding at the end of a busy day. There are many crafts which allow you to relax through easy to remember techniques or by allowing you to express and release tension.
  2. Finding your inner artist – It is my personal belief that every person has an inner artist waiting to find their own skill. You may have already found one or two crafts you enjoy, but why limit yourself to just that? Trying something new can be fun and exciting and you may find something that releases your creative potential in other areas of your life.
  3. Socialising: It is surprising how many people are now crafting in some form or another. Why not join up with family and friends to swap ideas and show off your skills. If you don’t have crafty friends or family nearby, there are many groups across the country you could join.
  4. Making something specific – Whether you are looking to make something practical such as clothing, or something decorative such as a rug, you will feel a sense of achievement by completing a project you set your mind to. Crafting also provides you with the skills to create heartfelt gifts for those you care about.
  5. Dieting / Quitting smoking – Ok, you may laugh at this one, but consider how difficult it is to eat biscuits or smoke a cigarette if your hands are busy with creating something. When I began to crochet, I lost weight just by focusing on other things instead of my cravings for junk food!

4 ways to learn

  1. Reading books – All through school we are encouraged to learn from reading books and in crafting this is no different. You don’t need to splash out lots of money either, pop into your local library for a range of free resource books covering various topics in crafting. If they don’t have what your after, ask in your local craft shop or book shop if they can recommend anything.
  2. Watching videos – In the technical age we live in, it is easy to find various videos online for almost any craft you wish to learn. Have a look at different ways of doing the basics as well as investigating how complex things can get – it might spark something in you.
  3. Talk to crafters – Once again, turning to friends and family is a great way to learn what they know. Swap skills with each other and compare different ways of doing the same thing.
  4. Join a class or workshop – Search in your local area for groups and workshops that are involved in crafting. Some groups are based round one type of skill i.e. knit and natter, but you will often find they are quite willing to accept people who don’t knit! Formal classes can be great ways to learn new skills too. Join a one off taster class to try something new, or a full block of workshops to master basic skills before going alone.

3 Tips on setting up

  1. Create your space – Try different places you would like to set up your craft. Find somewhere that is comfortable but practical. I used to use the floor to create cards until the dog decided she would join me after a rainy walk!
  2. Making time – If you can, think about when you will do your crafting. Can you take it on the road with you if traveling as a passenger, is it the type of craft that you can put down mid project or do you need to set aside time to spend an hour or two on it?
  3. Inspiration – Don’t wait until you sit down to find inspiration, save ideas in a notebook, on your phone or even a quick sketch on scrap paper. Once you get into the swing of recording when inspiration strikes, you’re crafting time can be used to create rather than plan.

2 ways to appreciate crafting

  1. Make It – Use your materials, tools and imagination to create anything you like. And if that doesn’t work…
  2. Buy it – There are many talented people out there that create for a living. If you  can’t make something yourself, support those that can and others will support you in return.

1 Craft Per Person?

No Way! You wouldn’t eat just one type of food, so why just stick with one type of craft. There are hundreds of different ways to use arts and crafts materials; have fun trying out various combinations and see what you can create.

Feel free to share with us the latest craft you tried and what helped you on your way.

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Secret Stones

What is a nicer way to spend a day off than wandering along the shore with family and the dog? Perhaps only something that makes teh walk a little more interactive for the younger family members. This is where ‘Secret Stones’ come in.


All across the UK, people are painting and hiding stones in their local area, which are in turn found and re-hidden by others. Some people have amazing artistic skills and have created very detailed designs, others are maybe younger and not quite got the hang of detail on such a small scale – but the thrill of finding either style is the same.

Here are a few we found, and re-hid on our walk through Queensberry Bay Caravan Park at Powfoot, near Annan.



This inspired us to come home to do our own versions, which are being distributed along Annan River Path today.


We used acrylic paint to do the background colour, waited until they were dry and used marker pens to draw and colour our pictures. Once totally dry, they were coated with a clear acrylic spray paint to protect them from the elements.


If you would like to join us in the ‘Secret Stones’ fun, you can book to use our classroom where you can paint your stones and leave them to be coated with a clear protective spray varnish. You can collect them to hide, or I would be happy to hide them for you – then you have the fun of looking for them!

Join the Dumfries and Galloway Secret Stones group on Facebook, or send us photos of your finds so we can share with them.


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Rainy Days are made for Crafting

So, we enter another weekend with miserable weather, but don’t let this stop you from doing some exciting crafty activities. With all sorts of indoor activities on offer, for every age group, there will be something you can do to keep the family entertained.
A number of young children enjoy the idea of playing with different sensations. They enjoy the feel of slimy textures a little more than adults do. It is fairly easy to set up an impromptu sensory bin or ‘feely box’ with a large tub and some household items.
We have created a Pinterest page to gather together some ideas. Some of them, such as the insect ones, will take a little more planning and preparation than say a colour sorting one, but it is cheap and easy to hide small toys or items in a tub of rice, spaghetti, water beads to let children dig for them. Make it even more exciting by including ‘tools’ such as spades, sieves, toy diggers, cups or any other item that is safe.
Older children will also enjoy making small worlds, such as fairy gardens or dinosaur lands. Get them involved in gathering together appropriate materials and build it together. Although be prepared for children to want to play with it for a while, it may be that they would like to leave the world built for a week or so. Consider this when building and think about investing in a large shallow tub or plant pot that can be used over and over again.
For older children, they could have a rainy day theme and create works of art using water and other materials. They could even create a drawing on paper using chalk or pens and place it in the rain to see the effect it has on their creation. There are so many rainbow themed crafts too, that you could spend a whole rainy week indoors creating wonderful items and pictures.
Visit our selection of ideas relating to the rainy days we get so often.
Or, if you have been stuck in the house for a while, why not investigate what is in your local area for craft groups or drop ins.
We have had a few people in today, on a wet and cold Saturday afternoon, painting ceramic money banks to use at home. You can book in advance if you would like to reserve a space or you can just drop in on a Saturday afternoon (and Tuesdays and Thursdays during the school break) to see what all we have on offer.
For those of you a little older, and falling more in the adult category, there are many ideas you can find online  for revamping furniture, creating new storage areas in your home, or why not just take the opportunity to relax with a hot drink and enjoy working on your most recent project; whether that be crochet, knitting, card making, jewellery design or anything else you’ve turned your hand to.
Rainy days are made for crafting.
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Red Squirrel Spotting

Last week I was kindly invited to go squirrel spotting at Eskrigg Nature Reserve in Lockerbie. My cousins, who invited me, had been before and raved about how fantastic it was to see the wildlife up close. I hadn’t even heard of it before, but was definitely intrigued.

Traveling from Annan in the car took around 20-30minutes. On arrival, we parked in a small car park next to the Dryfesdale Cemetery, the home of the Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance. The parking easy to find, free and had plenty of space for around 12-15 cars. It was pleasant to jump out of the car on such a warm day – most likely the hottest we have had so far this year. Perfect for wandering through sheltered wooded area.

To find the actual woodland, we walked to the road side and turned left, back towards Lockerbie. Only a minute along the path, we found the entrance across the road. The temporary roadworks were handy for keeping an eye on the traffic, but with a long stretch either side, it was safe to cross when clear.


The path starts off with a large signpost telling you bits and pieces about the wood and what types of wildlife may be spotted. It then stretches off between the trees, lined with berry bushes along the way. The eldest cousin, who is only 9yrs old, decided he knew where he was going and led us down a side path. Although it was clearly a path, it was a little muddy in places, and not nearly as easy to follow as the main path. It did take us past a couple of make-shift shelters though which was interesting.





We quickly reached a pond area, where we sat and watched the ducks and small fish for a while. There was also a wooden walkway that went around the pond and ended at a small viewing hut which had two small stools in a wooden shelter, with windows facing the pond. After a short time in the hut, we turned back and followed the walkway back to the main path.





A few hundred yards away, we then found another viewing hut with seats and information leaflets. You could easily sit here and watch the squirrel area without disturbing them. The squirrel area was full of squirrel friendly trees, a number of which had boxes screwed to them full of nuts to feed the squirrels.





Even though we sat for around an hour, waiting for them to appear – there were sadly no squirrels came down to visit us. Although it was a very hot day – the squirrels were probably happily in the breeze higher in the trees, laughing at us!

If you are looking for something to do on a dry day, take a little visit to the woods. It is a lovely, easy walk and dogs are welcome too (although it is recommended to keep them on the lead so as not to scare the squirrels).

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‘Fishing’ Through Annan History


As they do every year, Annan Riding of the Marches committee invited local businesses to take part in a window dressing competition this year, and sent us the categories at the end of May. In the past I have proudly earned a first and a third for the Riding of the Marches category; so this year I wanted more of a challenge!

‘Old Annan’ was the theme of choice this year, and I’m very glad I did. Having heard about haaf netting from various people, it was decided that fishing would be our theme.

Research started by reading up online about various fishing regulations and traditions based in this area, but it soon became apparent more in depth inquiry was needed. So off to the museum I went.

Annan Museum, located in Bank Street, is somewhere I hadn’t been for years, so I couldn’t honestly remember what it was like inside.

Downstairs was a very interesting exhibit about art work found in the basement of the old Creighton grounds. The paintings and drawings had been done by the patients and collated by Dr Browne during the years 1838-1857. The drawings were fantastic! I was shocked to find so much detail and such quality in their execution and design of the displays. It was incredibly interesting to read the story of the individual patients and be able to see the progression in their styles over the term of their treatment. According to the information displayed, it is claimed that during this time the most commonly used treatment was more electroshock treatments and other such drastic actions, so to read about this new method of stimulating the patients with art, music and general creativity really appealed to me.

This specific exhibit has now closed, but I am hoping to visit again soon to see The Sword in the Story exhibit about a mysterious sword reportedly linked to Kinmont Willie, along with other swords of years gone by.

Upstairs in the museum is where the research for our window display properly started. The room leads you from local discoveries about the bronze age, through the Victorian era and to more recent history such as Chapelcross Power Station. Although distracted by the fantastic artifacts including coats of arms, bronze age tools, Victorian toys and clothes, it was easy to spot the fishing area.

Annan museum have a whole area dedicated to various fishing aspects in the Annan area. There is a short video on a loop about the Haaf netting and how they do it; a selection of model boats showing the progression of fishing over the years, lots of artifacts from older methods of fishing as well as a book of commemoration of those who lost their lives whilst fishing the Solway and local waters.

After spending a while wandering around, I headed out and talked to the lovely ladies on the desk. They were happy to answer any questions I had and encouraged me to return a little quicker this time.


It was with great enthusiasm I came back to Mad Notions and started planning my window display. As you can see, it includes the three most common fishing types of this area including haaf netting, fly fishing and our wonderful harbour.


Judging day came and all I could do was hope for a good reaction from the judges… and I was delighted to receive a first place in our category!


Our display will be in place until mid July, but the museum is open most of the year. I recommend going for a visit – you may well be pleasantly surprised at what our little town has went through to reach where we are today.

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Milk Cartons to Fairy Houses

Who loves fairies and gnomes? There’s a group of youngsters in Annan who love them and made them new homes.

Last Saturday, 19th Jan, we got really creative and made fairy houses from milk cartons. Yup, those plastic bottles that we throw away or recycle every few days or so. It was fairly straight forward too.
Materials: 4 pint milk carton (cleaned and de-labelled), marker pens, craft knife/sharp scissors (and an adult to help), foam, felt, artificial flowers, artificial leaves, stickers, double sided tape/hot glue gun.
How to:
1. Choose your milk carton of choice. We used the 4 pint plastic ones with screw on lids. A lid isn’t totally necessary, but can add more detail to the roof if you don’t have a hole in it!
2. Use a permanent marker to draw on the roof, doors and windows. Better to use a dark colour to show up, but be careful as if the pen is too thickly applied, you’ll dye your fingers whenever you touch it.
3. An adult will need to use a craft knife or very sharp scissors to cut round the windows and doors. Some of our youngsters wanted the full door cut out, whilst others preferred them to be ‘hinged’.
4. Use any foam, felt, flowers, leaves etc lying around to decorate the outside of your house using double sided tape or a hot glue gun. Fitting curtains can be very fiddly, but can be done as some of the pictures show – although definitely easier to fit on the outside of the windows.
5. You can now add inside details such as felt beds, lids as tables, and much more. Some of our fairy houses had TVs on the wall and supposedly also had WiFi. Some high tech fairies in Annan!

Have a go of your own and let us know how you get on by emailing your pictures to or sending us them through Facebook.

Or if you’re near by, why not sign up for one of next classes.

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Deb’s Kids Portraits in Mad Notions, Annan

I am Debbie, a professional children’s photographer and I am excited to be returning to Mad Notions, Annan to capture Mini Children’s Photo Shoots on 1st & 3rd June ’17.

As a qualified Nursery Nurse as well as an experienced Photographer I understand the individual needs of children as well as the art of children’s portrait photography.

A Mini Children’s Photo Shoot consists of a 30 minutes portrait session for your child(ren) in my mobile studio at Mad Notions with various age suitable props. Within a few days of your Mini Children’s Photo Shoot a selection of approx 16-25 watermarked images are uploaded to your own secure online gallery on my children’s portrait website

The gallery is password protected so the photographs are only viewable to anyone you choose to give the password to. A (40.5cm x 30.5cm) mounted print of your choice is included in the £40 cost with other photo products and prints available to purchase at extra cost. I will deliver your free mounted print and any extra photo products to Mad Notions for you to collect from there within a couple of weeks of receiving your order.

Laura’s craft room in her premises at Mad Notions is perfect for children’s portrait photography as it is just the right size for my mobile studio. It also has plenty of natural light entering from the window, sometimes the light needs boosted by my flash which is very well diffused firstly through a diffuser and secondly by an umbrella and is carefully positioned to never fire directly at your child. All children’s photographs are left as natural as possible however if you would like any blemishes such as spots or bruises airbrushed out with Photoshop just ask and I will be happy to oblige. Sibling groups are welcome but may take a little longer to capture so may result in not quite so many images to view/choose from in your online gallery.



A Mini Children’s Photo Shoot by Deb’s Kid Portraits at Mad Notions Costs £40 & Includes:

  • 30 min Children’s Photo Shoot at Mad Notions
  • 1 (40.5cm x 30.5cm) mounted print of your choice (extra photo products available at additional cost)
  • Full editing/processing of all images
  • A password protected online gallery of approx 16-25 watermarked images
  • Free delivery of your photo order to Mad Notions

More information about my children’s photography and customer reviews can be found on my website and my Facebook Page

If you would like to book a Mini Photo Shoot by Deb’s Kid Portraits on June 1st or 3rd contact Laura at Mad Notions, 1/3 Bruce Street, Annan, Scotland and pay a £15 deposit – the outstanding balance of £25 is payable on the day before your Mini Children’s Photo Shoot (£40 payable in total).