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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Thrifty DIY project – Quick Cat Hat

With blustery weather and April showers just around the corner, I thought that today would be the ideal time to share a super-simple, really fast DIY project to jazz up your winter hats for spring. I have a plain grey beanie hat (I think I got it from the pound shop) that I’ve never worn, so I thought about what I could do to it to make it more appealing. I’ve got it! Turn it into a cat hat, of hat diy-4Honestly, this is probably the easiest DIY you’ll ever do and you’ll be finished in minutes. It’s always satisfying to complete a craft project so sit yourself down with a cup of tea and great ready for some serious satisfaction as you transform your old unloved bobble hat into a cool cat cap.

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Map Mondays – The Grandest Views exhibition, Keswick

Welcome back to my new weekly ‘map geek’ feature. Yes, I’m launching ‘Map Mondays’ here on the Cassiefairy blog because it turns out that I’m a huge map nerd and I’m sure I can’t be the only out there who really enjoys studying travel guides and decorating with maps. I kicked off my first Map Monday with a look at fun guides by Herb Lester to the most famous cities on earth; London and New York – check out the first post here.  And today I’m going to continue the story of how I came to discover that I am a secret fan of maps. the grandest views map exhibition keswick-3I was such a secret fan that I didn’t even know it myself. I thought that my husband was the geeky ex-scout who collected maps and practiced knots. However, it turns out that I too am a secret explorer, which I discovered when we took a holiday up north during the February half term. We tricked ourselves into believing that we were just taking a leisurely trip from the West to East coast but here’s what we never admitted to each other: the main reason we’d travelled north was to visit a map exhibition in the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery.the grandest views map exhibition keswickWe’d watched a feature about this upcoming exhibition on Countryfile a few weeks before, and it was one of those stop-talking-and-stare-intently-at-the-TV moments. The presenters were looking at a scale model of the Lake District landscape and I was mesmerised by the animated maps and plaster-cast models. At the end of the TV show we found out that the exhibition was due to open just before our half-term holiday so we decided to incorporate a visit into our trip.

As we drove away from Blackpool (after our romantic day out at the tower ballroom for Valentine’s weekend), we casually decided to head up to the Lake District for a night in Shap. Shall we drive on to Keswick? We shrugged our shoulders as if it didn’t really matter, and headed towards the town. Having programmed the exact location of the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery into my phone satnav we ended up parking right outside the building, so ‘we might as well go in’.the grandest views map exhibition keswick-2Honestly, you’ve never seen a grown-up couple skip so excitedly towards a museum, nor has my husband’s wallet been opened so quickly as we paid the entrance fee. Just one door was between us and the whole reason we’d made the trip from East Anglia to the Lake District. As we entered the ‘The Grandest Views’ exhibition, my husband squeezed my hand and I knew it was okay to be a map geek that day.the grandest views map exhibition keswick-4I don’t remember if I squealed, but I definitely did a little jump as we rushed into the exhibition and saw the massive map for the first time. The gallery floor was covered with a huge Ordinance Survey map and squares had been lifted on plinths, showing the landscape relief maps that we’d come to see – the Mayson’s Model.the grandest views map exhibition keswick-8After spending time researching the project online it was really exciting to see it in ‘real life’. The project was initiated by Dr Gary Priestnall from the School of Geography at the University of Nottingham after the recent discovery of the original Mayson’s Lake District landscape moulds in 2013.  Back in 1875 these negative moulds were cast with plaster to create 210 relief tiles, which together made up a 14ft by 15ft map of the Lake District.

Mayson’s Ordnance Model was a popular tourist attraction at the time and commanded a viewing fee of one shilling, which is equivalent to £5-10 in modern money, but it was one of the most innovative visitor experiences of the era, mathematically replicating the first ever Ordnance Survey map of the Lake District, published in 1867.the grandest views map exhibition keswick-12As part of the new exhibition at Keswick Museum and Art Gallery a number of the original moulds of the Mayson’s model on display, as well as a couple of ‘new’ relief casts of the original Mayson’s landscape. A modern Ordnance Survey map at the same scale of the original model had been laid on the floor of the exhibition and sections of the map had been elevated to show how the landscape model would have looked back in 1875. One of the relief squares had been painted to replicate the original Mayson’s model, and another was a blank white plaster cast.

This relief cast excited me the most, as it’s corresponding map was projected onto the landscape block and merged the original 1967 Ordnance Survey map, into the current modern day version and through to a satellite image map, complete with a boat animation travelling across the lake. It was completely mesmerising and seeing the maps dissolve into each other was really relaxing so I spent a long time watching (and filming) the animation.

Even though the complete model hadn’t been cast yet, each of Mayson’s negative moulds had been photographed and the exhibition allowed visitors to take these negative images and attempt to find them on the Ordnance Survey map. Most of the landscape tiles had not yet been found on the modern day map, so if a visitor found a corresponding tile on the map, they would be credited as part of the University of Nottingham research project. Of course, my husband and I took on the challenge and spent hours trying to find the corresponding map for the landscape tiles. This was much harder than we initially thought –in fact it was impossible, we didn’t find any – which explains why researchers haven’t yet allocated each tile to a map square.the grandest views map exhibition keswick-3I am so pleased that we made the detour to Keswick to see this map exhibition as it really was a rather breath-taking to see the relief landscape and corresponding projection. Plus, I want that map flooring in my home!  The restoration project continues at the University of Nottingham will hopefully result in complete the model of Mayson’s landscape so I look forward to attending that exhibition in years to come. If you would like to visit this exhibition, there’s still time – ‘The Grandest Views’ runs until the 17th May at the Keswick Museum and Art Gallery and I think it’s well worth the visit. Although I would say that, wouldn’t I? I’m a map geek ;)

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Pieday Friday – Fresh spring salad recipe

With the sun making a welcome appearance this week and Easter just around the corner, I thought I’d get invest in some fresh ingredients to create a delicious spring salad. I searched online and found an excellent recipe for a parma ham, buffalo mozzarella and pea salad called ‘A Taste of Newcastle’ by chef Andrew Scott. As this contained all of my favourite foods, I gathered together the ingredients and set to work recreating this famous dish and here’s how I got on:summer salad recipe-6

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DIY mid-century modern desk makeover

In the summer I work in my caravan. I spend hours in that little tin box, writing, sewing and drinking tea. The birds are singing and a cool breeze is blowing through the open windows. I love every minute of it and I can’t wait for the start of ‘caravan season’. In the meantime – when it’s cold and wet outside like it is today – I find it hard to drag myself outside to my garden workshop. I prefer to stay close to the radiators and kettle indoors, so during the dark winter months I set myself up at the dining table and work my socks off from desk makeover project - mid-century modern-3The trouble with not having a dedicated work space is that I end up with mess everywhere and I can never just leave my work at the end of the day. It either needs to be tidied away because we’ll be using the table, or the mess stays where I leave it and brings down neatness of the whole room. Plus, because I can see my laptop sitting there, I tend to go back to check emails and do just a little bit more in the evening when I should be relaxing. So I decided, as part of my new years resolutions, that a dedicated workspace was in order and I set out to find myself a desk. diy furniture makeover project - desk and shelf Continue reading “DIY mid-century modern desk makeover” »


DIY trouser-leg clutch bag

Sewing should be fun. Creative projects ought to make us happy. And DIYs should be simple.  However, in the world of perfect Pinterest photos, I’m starting to think that my crafts aren’t all that good. There are so many awesome tutorials out there that I can’t be but be inspired every day, yet I’ve found that Pinterest is a double-edged sword, because it motivates me yet puts me off projects in equal sewing project denim jeans clutch bag-3

As a result of pinning hundreds of gorgeous, perfectly photoshopped, Etsy-esque craft projects, I’ve ended up hrumphing about the things that I make because I know that I don’t have the patience for that level of perfection. And it’s kind of putting me off even getting started on new projects. And when I do click through – the 50 ‘simple’ steps make me want to turn off the iPad and watch TOWIE instead. Continue reading “DIY trouser-leg clutch bag” »


New ‘Map Mondays’ feature + TooWrappedUp £25 voucher giveaway !

I’m a map geek. There, I said it. I love ‘em and can’t get enough of them, hence my new ‘Map Mondays’ feature. And it’s not just maps that get me going – globes, travel guides and landscape installations all have me whipping my camera out quicker than you can say ‘tourist information centre’. Yes, I have a whole list of map-related articles in store for you over the coming months and I’m kicking this new feature off with a fantastic £25 gift voucher giveaway for! how_to_find_old_new_york5I never really realised just how ‘into’ maps I have been until this year. I always thought it was my husband’s hobby and, as an ex-scout, he was really good at understanding maps, taking me off the beaten track with nothing more than an Ordinance Survey fold-out and a compass in his backpack. Over the years, I’ve bought him countless books, globes and even a shower-curtain printed with the underground map, thinking that he was a massive map geek. It turns out that I was being much more self-serving than I imagined, choosing map-related homewares that I too liked the look of and spending hours pouring over the travel guides myself. a_pub_for_all_reasons2_1024x1024 Continue reading “New ‘Map Mondays’ feature + TooWrappedUp £25 voucher giveaway !” »


Branding research – the new face of marketing

I’m sick of David Beckham. He’s everywhere. He’s basically stalking me and I can’t get away from him. Okay, okay, I admit it, I haven’t got a crazy fan – I’m talking about David Beckham ‘the endorsement’. He’s in my magazines, popping up on my screen, and all over my TV in advertising campaigns for a huge variety of products. With news emerging this week that Beckham is making more money now than he ever did during his football career – his highest ever annual income occurred in 2014, his first full year of retirement – I can see why he’s taking on so many endorsements. His face is a money-making machine so why would he not make the most of this while he can?david beckham

image source

Well, it turns out that Beckham’s adverts may be doing more harm than good. I’ve been reading some interesting research which shows that UK brands are experiencing a real backlash to their advertising, especially when coupled with a ‘celebrity’ endorsement. As an ex-marketing student, and someone who is still very keen to learn more about recent developments in brand promotion, this kind of research really intrigues me.

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Pieday Friday – Gousto review

I’m a rubbish chef. I over-cook food to ‘make sure’ it’s done, my pasta always sticks and I leave pans unattended so they end up burnt. In spite of all my Pieday Friday baking, I don’t always get it right and I’m often disappointed by my own cooking. Gousto recipes_-5The problem is two-fold: I have a poor attention span so I wander off while things simmer or start cleaning the kitchen while water comes to the boil. The only guaranteed result of these actions is boiling water bubbling over onto the hob and crispy bottoms of pans. And the second problem with my cooking is that I’m not at all adventurous. I’m reluctant to add herbs, don’t like spiciness and hardly ever season the recipe ‘to taste’. My husband is great at this – he’ll throw in herbs, spices and stock-cubes with abandon – but I’m not confident that I’ll get the flavours right so I just don’t do it.

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How does your garden grow? Winter progress… or not.

I suck at growing beetroot. And carrots don’t like to be planted in December. These are the things that I learnt from my veggie patch this Winter. In fact, I failed at growing potatoes too so I think we can all agree that I should stick to summer crops and leave the hardy veg growing to the Farm Shop down the road.spring garden veggit patch-3

In truth, I’m a fair-weather gardener. I planted those seeds in a barely dug-over patch in deepest darkest winter and left them to it. Those carrot seeds tried to fight their way through frosty ground to no avail, and only a handful of beetroot braved the elements to sprout their leafy plumage. I kind of just expected them to grow by themselves and provide me with an abundance of winter produce, much like the bumper veggie crop of last summer.

Then…    …and now

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DIY Easter bunny wreath for spring

How will the Easter bunny know where to deliver your chocolate eggs if you don’t hang a spring wreath on your door?? The whole Easter bunny thing is like Santa, right? Well, I don’t want to risk missing out on my chocolate goodies so I’ve been DIYing a wreath for spring this week and I’ve hung it on my caravan door already, just to be spring wreath easter bunny diy spring wreath for easter caravan by cassiefairy Continue reading “DIY Easter bunny wreath for spring” »