Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??

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Quirky & unique wedding venues: what are the options?

When it comes to planning your wedding day, you’ll undoubtedly want a spectacular day that’s filled with beautiful memories to last a lifetime. The location plays an integral role in creating this ‘wow factor’, and if you’re searching for something extra special then check out these quirkily romantic venues:natural history museum wedding

Natural History Museum

Museums and Art Galleries If you or your partner is interested in art, history or imposing architecture, then the ideal location may just be your local museum or art gallery. The options are virtually endless when it comes to indulging your niche hobby or interest, and you could get married in front of anything from a Spitfire to a woolly mammoth. Whatever your historic or artistic whimsy, the photos would definitely be sensational, and your guests would remember the day barn venue inspiration

Countryside Barns A novel option for outdoorsy types and couples besotted with earthy themes, the barn wedding is sure to melt hearts. To pull this one off, find an amazing venue in Cheshire and think soft lighting, exposed pine, pastel colours and earthy tones; all set under the stars and against a backdrop of beautiful timber and inviting open space.Ox Pasture Hall wedding gardenThe Great Outdoors A step further than a barn wedding is to choose a park, forest or general area of outstanding beauty for your big day. It could be that somewhere special where you and your loved one first met, or simply somewhere beautiful that you find breathtakingly romantic. Consider spots like national parks, moors, pinewoods, mountains or the beach. This type of venue is probably best for summer, and make sure to research local laws and venue restrictions.ox pasture hall hotel wedding venueGardens or Conservatory Perhaps you are keen gardeners or enjoy flowers, and if so an ideal wedding venue could be a large conservatory or picturesque botanical garden. In choosing such a venue, think tree-lined paths, scents to inspire, manicured lawns and colours that pop. Many large conservatories are also historical feats of architecture, and the opportunities to utilise such a unique space can create a stunning impact.

Historical Libraries Books, en-masse, create a wonderful ambience, and what could form a better backdrop for iconic photographs? The romantic notion motivating a marriage among bookcases might be lost on some, but for literature lovers the appeal is obvious. The opportunities to theme the wedding are also numerous, whilst the grandeur and intellectual aura of the building will bring a touch of refined class not afforded with many other venues.

Boat wedding inspiration

On a Boat If you love the water and find its energy inspiring, then consider a water-based venue. This could be a sailboat, rowboat, barge, yacht, a speedboat or even a ferry! If you don’t fancy open water, then the boat can remain anchored and the sparkling infinity of the lake, river or ocean will still create beautiful ambience and make for unforgettable sunset photographs.

When it comes to picking your wedding venue, the more creative you are with it, the better! Aim for locations that reflect your personal interests and love story, whilst adding that unique dash of romance and a stunning backdrop for spectacular photographs.


Shopping research & my new dress!

It may not seem like it from reading my blog but I rarely treat myself to new clothing. Honestly, almost everything I buy I end up writing about so you can probably tell from my blog that I’ve only got about three new dresses this year (though I make up for this with shoes). I’m almost proud of this fact and I’ll tell you why; I’ve been trying to give up and white stripe dress blue vanilla-4Okay, not all shopping. Make-up, hair products, toiletries and underwear are everyday essentials that need to be replenished. But when it comes to shopping for clothing and things I’ve been trying to cut back on how much I buy, and I think I’ve been doing quite well. I’ve been trying to keep my shopping to a minimum for two reasons; firstly, I want to save some cash for summer adventures, and secondly, I already have too much stuff and it’s spilling out of my wardrobe!

That said, I really did need a dress to wear for my friend’s wedding next week (above, which I wrote about last month – I didn’t buy new shoes though, I’m reusing my old faves) and I couldn’t resist this striped dress from Blue Vanilla when I spotted it online last month. I decided that, if I was only going to invest in one dress this summer, this gorgeous shift dress would be my best bet as it will be great for promenade strolls with a denim jacket in the summer and would be cosy with tights and a cardi in the autumn and winter. A sound investment, I’m sure you’ll agree!

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Tuesday Shoesday – Save money on DIY fashion

Everyone has their own style – it’s part of what makes you, you! Knowing what colours suit you, understanding your body, what shape clothes you need and the combinations of textures and textiles is absolutely essential if you are going to make a positive and lasting statement. DIY fashion allows you to take artistic control of your look, making clothing and accessories that are created with you in mind. However, it can sometimes be the more expensive alternative to browsing the high street stores, particularly if you’re not on the lookout for designer labels, as some of the supermarket clothing and shoe prices can be hard to beat. But this low cost does mean that everyone else will be wearing the same clothing this season too, so getting a unique look can be hard when you’re on a budget. So how can you ‘do it yourself’ for cheap?tuesday shoesday cassiefairy diy shoe makeover using fabric spray paint from rustoleum-6Recycling old clothes is a great way to achieve your perfect look for less. Take that tatty old dress that you haven’t worn in years or that pair of jeans that no longer quite fits and make them into something new and beautiful, something that truly suits you. I had an old pair of brogues in my wardrobe that I’d worn for years. Therefore they were super-comfortable shoes but they looked really shabby, yet I couldn’t bring myself to throw them out. Instead I grabbed a low-cost can of fabric spray paint and gave them a quick and easy makeover – see my blog post about it here. Using old, unwanted and tatty clothes to create something that you will use time and time again is by far the most economical way of doing it yourself. tuesday shoesday cassiefairy diy shoe makeover using fabric spray paint from rustoleum-15 Continue reading “Tuesday Shoesday – Save money on DIY fashion” »


My mini kitchen makeover – Paint colours & fabric patterns

The summer holidays have arrived! And with them come the opportunity to spend some time at home and get started on a couple of decorating projects that I’ve been bursting to do. You may remember that I shared some inspirational images for my ideal kitchen a couple of weeks ago and I’m now planning to put those ideas into practice. I’m calling it a ‘mini makeover’ for two reasons; firstly, my budget is tiny and I want to get the best result for the minimum outlay, and secondly, my kitchen is also tiny – I’ve actually never lived in a home with such a small kitchen before and I really need to make the best use of the space available. So this interior design project is really going to be a challenge!clarke and clarke candy striped fabric_The thing that I’ve had the most trouble deciding on is the colour of the walls. We’ve had patches of paint samples on the wall for more than a year and I couldn’t decide on a colour until I found a lovely duck-egg blue in Homebase. It’s bright enough that it doesn’t make the room feel any smaller but it’s a little more exciting than just using a neutral white or magnolia to make the space bigger.southwold pier attraction suffolk travel guide-4I really think I’ve made the right decision with the paint colour, and here’s why; Continue reading “My mini kitchen makeover – Paint colours & fabric patterns” »


Summer holiday plans & goals

With schools all around the country kicking off their summer holiday today, it’s got me thinking about my plans for the next couple of months and what I’d like to achieve while enjoying the summer break. Following New Year’s Resolutions, summer holidays are often the next time in our busy schedules when we have the opportunity to unwind and reflect on our lives. I think it’s a great idea to check back on the goals we set for ourselves at this half-way point and get ourselves back on-track if needed.make it happen write for funEarlier this year, I set myself a goal to spend more time writing for fun and you can see my blog post about my plans here. As a full-time writer – and now editor – I found myself short on time and not doing as writing work for myself as I would like. I know I’m lucky to be doing a job that I enjoy so much that I’d like to do more of it but writing started out as a hobby for me and I still love it. I actually submitted my goal to the Post-It #MakeItHappen campaign for the chance of winning £200 and there’s a new winner chosen every month so it’s a good idea evaluate and improve your goals regularly and keep submitting them to keep you on track!summer inspiration motivation quote goal-2When I started blogging, it was my way of practicing writing every day – much like an artist uses a sketchbook – and I enjoy every minute of it. I blogged daily for about three years and I think I became a little bit addicted to it! With more and more writing and editing projects being commissioned I was running short on time and couldn’t always face doing extra writing in the evening for my blog. But earlier this year I made the decision to write for fun and not feel pressured to keep up with my daily blogging and, so far, I’ve managed to stick to my goal.summer inspiration motivation quote goalI’m pleased to say that ‘letting myself off’ my daily schedule has actually made me feel loads better about being a writer; I don’t write just because I ‘should’ any more and I feel like the articles I do write are better researched and I feel more proud of them. And having the occasional break without feeling bad about it has definitely improved my happiness. I enjoy the writing work I undertake in my day job much more as I can dedicate more time to it and deliver a better quality result.

Now that the summer holidays are here and I’m thinking about how this one change had impacted on my happiness in my work, I’m starting to think about other short-term goals that I would like to meet this year. The problem that I currently face is procrastination. I know I’m putting things off – writing projects – that I want to do, just because they have no deadline. I always put my day-to-day projects first and then never have time to do the other things that I want to do.

I recently watched this episode of Marie TV above which shares great tips for getting important work done and I’m definitely going to be taking this advice – have a watch and let me know if you already follow this advice, it would be good to know how it works for you. I’ll let you know how I get on with my new goal over the course of the summer!summer inspiration motivation quote goal-3

While I was writing out my new happiness goal my favourite summer mantra popped into my mind so I jotted this down to keep me inspired throughout the summer. Writing down positive affirmations alongside your goals is a fabulous way to keep focused and motivated and, as I’m a very forgetful person, I like to stick up my inspiring quotes and goals on the fridge so that I can see it every day and keep on track.  I use Post-it Super Sticky Notes to keep my ideas and quotes in order as they stay in place, even on vertical surfaces, to help keep your goals and positive thoughts at the front of your mind. Let me know if you do this kind of thing too – I’m sure I can’t be the only one! My favourite summer quote is ‘say yes to summer adventures’ and I’d love to hear your own favourite inspirational quotes so please leave me a comment below or tweet me @Cassiefairy

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Swapping & sharing with a little help from my friends

Us women know only too well how difficult it can be to keep up with the latest fashion trends without forking out an obscene amount of money each month, just to look good without wearing the same go-to outfit multiple times. For many ladies, there is even an unwritten rule which says that when it comes to special occasion dresses, it is poor form to be seen in the same outfit clothing swap share

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Whilst I can’t say I agree with this declaration by any means, I do find that wearing a new dress for a significant event does make the whole thing seem more special. But what happens when your bank balance just won’t stretch that far that month? My friends and I have a couple of trusted techniques that keeps us looking and feeling fabulous without the need to splash the cash on the latest to wear pantone colour of the year marsala spring summer autumn winter fashion trend-5

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Latitude Festival 2015

Latitude. What a festival. What a wonderful weekend. It was magical, hilarious, nostalgic and happy. And that’s just my experience of the event. I’d love to tell you all about it today and share some of my photos so that you can get an idea of the fun weekend we enjoyed at Suffolk’s biggest arts and music festival.Latitude festival photos 2015-12 Latitude festival photos 2015-10 Latitude festival photos 2015 Latitude festival photos 2015-2I’m pretty sure that no two experiences of Latitude would be the same; for some it may be one mad-dash from crowded arena to packed tent, watching the UK’s hottest bands and newest stars; for other’s it might have been a chilled out weekend of lake swimming, saunas in the woods and art installations; for me it was a complete mix of crazy-busy music performances, laugh-out-loud comedy and chilling out in dappled shade. You can tell it’s a family festival by the sheer volume of activities and entertainment provided for children and teenagers; I’d love to share my festival experience with you and here’s what we got up to…


The mornings at the festival were the most calm and relaxed times of the day for me. There were fewer people on the site – it gradually became busier during the day as day guests arrived and campers awoke – and the performances taking place on the smaller stages were generally acoustic and very chilled out. I certainly noticed an increase in volume after midday as the bigger stages plugged in their speakers! In the mornings the calming sound installations, such as the bandstand adorned with recycled can pieces and giant wind chimes in the woods, tinkled and clunked in the breeze.


As the day warmed up and festival-goers descended into the arena the tents and stages became noticeably busier but, no matter what performance you were hoping to see, it was likely that there would be room for you to view the act. Of course, in some of the tents, such as the popular BBC Radio 6 Music stage, it seemed like standing-room-only for many of the bands but there was always space to make your way into the crowd.IMG_1741Latitude festival photos 2015-24 Latitude festival photos 2015-21 Latitude festival photos 2015-11 Latitude festival photos 2015-8 Latitude festival photos 2015-25 Latitude festival photos 2015-3The highlight of Latitude for me is always the comedy. With more than 40 acts over three days there was always a performance to watch and you could easily lose track of time as one comedian handed over to the next in a continuous schedule of laughs. I had some ‘must-see’ acts circled on my festival timetable including Latitude veteran Marcus Brigstocke and headliner Jason Manford, along with my newest comedy heroes Sara Pascoe and Joe Lycett, whose clever camel improvisation & Tinder jokes had me screaming with laughter.P1060211 IMG_1887 IMG_1911P1060287In amongst these superstars I discovered lots of new comedy acts that I probably wouldn’t have seen elsewhere including a late-night improv show in the literary arena featuring Thom Tuck and Deborah Frances-White that culminated in Lycett snogging Brigstocke on stage. That’s the great thing about Latitude festival, you get to experience performances – comedy, music, theatre and film – that you might never have found otherwise. My evenings since the festival have been spent looking up future performances of the new acts I discovered and my calendar for the rest of the year is already filling up with comedy club visits and tour dates.

This type of festival is full of surprises – not least the unbilled Ed Sheeran popping up on various stages over the course of the weekend – and I love finding myself in the right place at the right time and experiencing something amazing. While deliberating what to eat on Saturday, for example, I heard a commotion in the Poetry tent. We nipped into the rapidly filling-up tent to find a fantastic beatboxing session starting up. I couldn’t believe my ears as entire music tracks – drums, instruments and lyrics – were performed by one person! The BAC Beatbox Academy joined together to create a wall of sound with their voices, recreating a number of  famous tracks, and the performance culminated in a beatbox battle with members of the group showing off their skills against each other. Simply astonishing and I’m so pleased that I was passing the poetry tent at exactly the right moment.

A video posted by Cassiefairy (@cassiefairy) on

IMG_1879 Latitude festival photos 2015-32 Latitude festival photos 2015-33 Latitude festival photos 2015-34 Latitude festival photos 2015-37 Latitude festival photos 2015-66 My absolute highlight of the whole festival also took place in the poetry tent. Nick Helm. Need I say any more? I’d spotted a sneaky performance by this talented guy hidden away in the schedule. I actually ran across the festival site when I heard his gravelly voice yelling ‘Do you like jokes?’ over and over at the audience. I wanted to be shouted at too. Not content with standing at the doorway for the performance I slipped inside the tent and found myself sitting at the very front feeling rather nervous (as I know what Helm can do to his audience) but excited to see this rockstar hero in action.

I don’t want to go on and on about how amazing the guy is because I’m sure Helm would hate the kind of review that I would usually write for this absolute legend but watching him belt out songs, yell poetry and hurl punchlines at the audience in his angry growl was the best moment of the festival for me. I never realised I was such a fan-girl; I wonder if anyone else was affected in the same way by Nick’s performance? I didn’t want it to end and, luckily for me, the next act due to perform in the poetry tent had cancelled so a series of artists took to the stage to perform poems for the waiting crowd including another swoon-inducing poetry performance by Helm.

IMG_1742P1060205 P1060240 P1060264 P1060289Now, on to the music. Honestly, it’s a great festival if you’re really into new bands but not knowing half of the names on the line-up really did make me feel my age. Thankfully, there was a decent amount of ‘my kind’ of music too including The Charlatans, Manic Street Preachers and Noel Gallagher closing the festival at sunset on Sunday. A lot of acts that I wouldn’t mind seeing, such as Years and Years and Seasick Steve clashed with the comedy acts I came to see, and let’s face it, I was still recovering from my Helm experience to take too much notice of anything else on Sunday. Still, swaying the night away to ‘Don’t look back in anger’ while propping up the arena bar was a pretty good way to end the weekend and we made our way through the illuminated woods to admire the finished installations that artists had been working on throughout the festival.



There’s plenty more festival highlights that I haven’t mentioned so here’s a quick list of must-do experiences: free gondola rides across the lake and this year lake swimming was introduced; the helter-skelter in the kids arena isn’t just for the little ones and looks great lit up like a beacon at night; a 3D animated light show takes place on the lake each evening; caravans, sheds, tents and wooded clearings play host to non-stop theatre performances, story-telling and films; and – my favourite thing – there’s a huge amount of food available and from the gourmet pies to the naughty burgers it was all delicious. IMG_1986 P1060324 P1060303 IMG_1954My sunny weekend at Latitude Festival has really stuck in my mind; I’ve been day-dreaming of comedy performances all week, wondering whether beatboxing could be a new career for me and washing the dust off my toes. Loved it. Want more. Will be back.

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Tuesday Shoesday – Fit for a Prince

When I wrote about my new Crocs sandals a couple of months ago I got loads of replies from surprised Instagrammers, tweeters and bloggers who couldn’t believe that my sandals were made by this brand. They looked nothing like the chunky Crocband clogs that have been so popular over recent years and the funky jelly design of my sandals certainly turned a few heads. I loved my rainbow Crocs at first sight and I’ve seen lots of fashionistas sporting these pretty and comfortable sandals since – including Ree Ree Rockette looking gorgeous in the wedge version (next on my list!). kate-george-crocs

Image: Rex Features/Associated Press

Well it turns out that we bloggers are quite the trend-setters; now even Prince George has been spotted wearing the famous brand. I like to think that the Duchess of Cambridge read my blog post and decided that if Crocs were good enough for me, they were good enough for her son too. Yes, that’s probably what happened.

(Photo by Max Mumby/Indigo/Getty Images)

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Pieday Friday – Nan knows best; a recipe for milk bread

This week I tried something that I’d never attempted before; making bread with only two ingredients – neither of which were yeast or fat. Yes, I made milk bread from my Nan’s old Bero recipe book and I couldn’t believe my eyes when it began to rise, especially when you consider that it’s made from only milk and flour. Surely that shouldn’t work, should it?retro milk bread loaf baking recipe-5retro milk bread loaf baking recipe-2But grandparents are always right, and this book as been in my family for generations – my mum used it for the perfect Yorkshire puddings, Nan used it for baking hostess-worthy cakes and my great-grandma whipped up a loaf of bread with only two ingredients from this fail-safe recipe book. I too used it throughout my childhood every time the school fete required butterfly buns or cheese scones, so I’ve grown up with the same recipes that my grandparents used and when I became a ‘grown up’ myself, I ordered the latest version of the Bero recipe book online so that I could continue baking these fool-proof recipes.retro milk bread loaf baking recipe-16 retro milk bread loaf baking recipe-3The only problem that I encountered while following these old recipes was converting the measurements and temperatures into quantities that I understood. I found myself needing to leave the kitchen regularly to use conversion calculators online – even the oven temperature baffled me! This is the only thing that’s been lost in translation over the years, and while my grandparents, and even mum, would have no problem with pounds and ounces, my scales didn’t even offer these measurements and I have no idea how to work it out manually.retro milk bread loaf baking recipe-4 retro milk bread loaf baking recipe Continue reading “Pieday Friday – Nan knows best; a recipe for milk bread” »

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Glam up a simple gown for a special occasion

So you have a dress for prom. It’s a straight-forward little black dress or even a plain, but gorgeous, floor-length gown that fits like a dream. But it’s just too simple for you. It is one solid colour; or maybe the cut is just really basic. You really want to glam it up. Make it a little dressier, a little sparkly or perhaps a whole lot more glamorous.getting ready for prom

Get ready for prom with these thrifty tips!

Well if you’re off to your college prom, or any another dressy occasion – such as a wedding or awards dinner – and want to glam up your gown, here are some simple, fool-proof and affordable tips for taking your gown from plain to dazzling.

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