Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

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


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Party ideas for a big night in – I heart NY

It’s all about love this Valentine’s weekend and I wanted to do something special for my husband. We’re being especially frugal this year (saving for a home of our own) so there won’t be any lavish nights or holidays to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. But that doesn’t mean it will pass by unnoticed. Instead, I’ve made my own Valentine’s card for him (see my easy card-making DIY post here) and I created a memories box packed full of photos last week (see the making-of video here). I still wanted to celebrate the occasion so I surprised him with an “I Heart NY” party!i heart ny new york party inspiration ideas-9I wanted it to be a ‘big’ night in without spending a fortune so I decided that the best way to surprise hubby was to bring a party into our living room and get everything ready while he was at work this Friday. I put up USA flag bunting and a string of light-bulb fairy lights, then sprinkled red-white-and-blue star confetti everywhere. New York is somewhere that my husband and I have always wanted to travel to but have never found the spare cash to be able to go yet, so I thought it would be the perfect Valentine’s treat to bring The Big Apple to him instead. Plus, there’s hearts involved (okay, an I Heart NY t-shirts to be exact!) so that make’s it romantic too.i heart ny new york party inspiration ideas-8I gathered together all our favourite films set in New York, such as You’ve Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally and, of course, all the Sex and the City films. I wonder if I could have got away with putting on the SATC box set?? On the TV is Sleepless in Seattle, when the Empire State Building lights up with a red heart on Valentine’s Day. What a moment! All I needed was a big tub of popcorn and some US candy bars (oh yes, those are pretzel M&Ms, hurrah!) and we were all set to enjoy a romantic film night.

This would also be a great night-in with the girls, especially with all the chick-flick movies I’ve got lined up! So consider throwing an “I Heart NY” party for your friend’s hen party or birthday too! And don’t forget it’s “Galentine’s Day” tomorrow too! Check out my blog post about hosting a Galentine’s party for your besties, plus some delicious flavoured hot-chocolate recipes.

In terms of eats, I cooked up Continue reading “Party ideas for a big night in – I heart NY” »


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Pieday Friday – Eat well & healthily this year

Are you taking part in the #WomanKind campaign this month? I’ve been really excited about getting stuck in to this ‘me-time’ project so you might have spotted a few posts over the last couple of weeks about looking great on a budget. If you miss them, here are my posts on starting your new year in style with a wardrobe makeover and hunting out payday footwear bargains. I’ve been sharing thrifty tips and really throwing myself into the spirit of the #WomanKind campaign by supporting my lovely readers to get some great fashion deals and grow in confidence at the same time.pieday friday recipe pastry-free quiche healthy snack hack lunch dinnerI especially love joining in with this campaign because its aim is to encourage women to be kinder to themselves, and that’s something that we all need to work on. The survey I read on the #WomanKind site shows that a whopping 89% of women never compliment themselves and are much more likely to be kind and loving to others than they are to themselves. I really think it’s time to change that and this is precisely why I’m getting stuck into this campaign.healthy moroccan mint ginger lemon herb infusion tea recipe-11

My fresh Moroccan mint tea infusion – click here to find out how I made it

Today’s blog post is something a little different to my usual Pieday Friday recipe posts. In the spirit of the #WomanKind campaign I’m sharing money-saving tips for eating well and healthily this new year. Hopefully, these ideas will inspire you to make a change to the way you approach meal times AND treat yourself with the care that your body deserves.summer salad recipe-6

My favourite ever salad with pea puree – check out the recipe

Tip 1 – it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to eat healthily. You don’t need any specialist meal-replacement products or new kitchen equipment. Yes, swapping sugar for fruit-based sweetener and cooking oil for Fry-Light will help you make your meals and drinks much healthier, but these are probably the only two things you’ll need to make a big change. From here on in you can make your own healthy ‘instant’ meals, mix up your own fruity yoghurts and bake your own low-sugar snacks so there’s no need to invest in speciality foods. You just need to put a little effort into caring for yourself (yes, be #WomanKind to yourself again!) and spend some time preparing fresh dishes that will make you feel great on the inside, as well as on the outside.pieday friday recipe pastry-free quiche healthy snack hack lunch dinner-2

I shared a pastry-free “quiche” recipe in January

Tip 2 – take the time to eat well. This tip can be interpreted two ways and the first is to actually Continue reading “Pieday Friday – Eat well & healthily this year” »


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Design & print your own DIY cards for Valentine’s Day, birthdays & more

No, it’s not too late to show someone you care about them this Valentine’s Day. You’ve still got time to post a card to that special person, you just need to get hold of a card. No time to run out to the shops? No problem! I’ve come up with a super-simple DIY project to make your own Valentine’s card. No craft skills needed, honest!diy printed personalised valentines birthday card epson printer craft tutorial-8It’s as easy as typing out a message on your computer and hitting print. I used Publisher to create my design, so pretty much everyone will have this programme on their PC. But don’t worry if you haven’t got publisher; Photoshop or even a Word document would work equally well. Just pay attention to the page size, as you’ll want it to be a cute little A6 card (similar to a 6×4 photo size) once it’s printed.diy printed personalised valentines birthday card epson printer craft tutorial-11You can print your design onto A4 card and cut it in half before folding to A6 size, or if you don’t have any card to hard use one piece of thick A4 paper folded in half and glued down to add stability so that your card will at least stand up. got a card-backed document envelope somewhere in the office? This will do too! Even an empty cereal box will be fine to print on, as long as you cover up the Crunchy Nut image on the other side with a layer of paper!diy printed personalised valentines birthday card epson printer craft tutorial-2 diy printed personalised valentines birthday card epson printer craft tutorial-3diy printed personalised valentines birthday card epson printer craft tutorial-6Once you’ve got your paper or card ready, you only need to Continue reading “Design & print your own DIY cards for Valentine’s Day, birthdays & more” »


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Breathtaking Valentine’s Day gifts + save 33% on flowers!

When you’ve not got much time and Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, the quickest and easiest option is to shop for gifts online. But that doesn’t have to mean you’re not putting any thought or effort into choosing a treat for your favourite person. Oh no, there are plenty of simply gorgeous gifts online that you just can’t get anywhere else and I’d love to show you what I mean…rose bouquet flowers gift blossoming gift valentines present-2rose bouquet flowers gift blossoming gift valentines present-5First up, I wanted to show you some of the unique gifts available on Etsy. As each item is hand-crafted or vintage, you can be sure that your other-half won’t have come across the gift before and it will be a true surprise. Okay, sometimes items are handmade to order, which adds a little extra time to the ordering process and it might have to be a Valentine’s Day ‘promise’ rather than something they can unwrap on the day. But who wouldn’t want to be given a note that reads “I’ve bought you a handmade gold pendant”?! I personally love all the textile crafts you can find on Etsy and these are some of my favourite heart-motif goodies.knitted heart scarf

Grey and pink knitted scarf by Grace Cook Knitwear

knit heart gloves etsyHand-spun alpaca wool gloves by Spinning Spider Webb

I love love love Maria Allen jewellery and this is one of her gorgeous Valentine’s Day designs. My bestie gave me an amazing personalised locket from Maria Allen for my birthday a couple of years ago and it’s my most cherished piece of jewellery. I can almost guarantee that this would be a winning gift for Valentine’s Day so feel free to use this blog post to drop a huge hint to your hubby ladies!etsy valentines locket marie allen gold necklaceAnd of course, it wouldn’t be valentine’s day without a beautiful bouquet of roses! Listen up hubby! There’s still plenty of time to order a bouquet online at Blossoming Gifts (where I got these sugar-pink blooms from). Ordering flowers online don’t have to be an expensive venture either; these bouquets are stunning yet not over-priced, starting at just £11.99. You can also find potted roses, lilies and orchids that will live on beyond Valentine’s day, plus many bouquets comes with a free gift, such as a box of chocolates or teddy bear. Plus you can save 33% on selected bouquets by using the discount code “BGIFTS33”, bonus!rose bouquet flowers gift blossoming gift valentines present rose bouquet flowers gift blossoming gift valentines present-4I was very impressed when the bouquet was Continue reading “Breathtaking Valentine’s Day gifts + save 33% on flowers!” »


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Tuesday Shoesday – My 2016 Essentials (at the lowest possible price!)

When you’re a thrifty kinda gal who doesn’t really want to splash out her hard-earned cash on pricey pumps where do you shop for shoes? I’ve made no secret of the fact that I want to spend less this year, (so that I’ve got more to save for the house of my dreams!) so now that I need some new shoes for the new year, I don’t want to blow the budget. Low-cost loafers are definitely ‘my bag’, people!

The trouble is, I’m also trying to clear out all the clutter from my tiny over-stuffed home. I want to streamline my wardrobe and clear out the 80% of things that hide at the back, never being worn (I wrote about my thrifty tips for making the most of your wardrobe last week). So that means that I don’t really want to be re-cluttering with a selection of shoes that I won’t get round to wearing either. No matter how much of a bargain a pair of pumps are, I won’t buy them unless they fulfil a need. I’ve got too many ‘pretty’ shoes sitting around that I’ve never worn but am completely lacking in terms of practical boots, trainers or wellies!countryside field muddy photograph tuesday shoesday welliesSo, that’s what I’ve been shopping for online this week. When you spot a gap in your shoe-wardrobe like that, you’ve got to fill it, right?! Living in a particularly muddy part of the countryside, I need wellies. If I want to go on any kind of countryside walks this year (and believe me, I do) I’m destined to come home with clods of mud stuck to the bottom of my pumps. Yes, this did happen to me at the weekend and the photo above is a footpath near my house. So wellies are clearly needed. They don’t need to be anything fancy, but they do need to be waterproof. I found the lowest prices for the wellies above at Brantano and I think I’m going to invest in these classic green Dunlop wellington boots. A timeless style and traditional colour won’t date so I can use them for years to come, and I especially love the £14 price-tag!tuesday shoesday coastal walks trainers pumps casual shoesI also managed to ruin my last pair of canvas trainers by wandering onto a muddy footpath. It looked fine at the start of the track, but ended up taking me across a very moist field. No amount of cleaning could remove the muddy tidemarks from my trainers. I don’t want to get put off walking completely, so now that I’ve got the wellies sorted, I’m sure I’ll be fine. But in the meantime, I need one pair of comfortable pumps for day-to-day wear; wandering around town and coastal promenades, that sort of thing. Continue reading “Tuesday Shoesday – My 2016 Essentials (at the lowest possible price!)” »


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How to get 50% off Valentine’s cards with Thortful

If you want to show someone special that you care about them this Valentine’s Day but know that you won’t be able to make it to the shops before the weekend, I’ve got the solution for you. No, it’s not too late to order a personalised Valentine’s card online because I’ve found a great website that will post it to your loved-one first class. If you order before 2pm the card will even be put in the post-box the same day! Plus, I can give you a special discount code to get 50% off straight away! Sounds too good to be true? Would I lie to you fairies? No way! Read on to find out more…valentines day greetings card inspiration thortful-9 valentines day greetings card inspiration thortful-2This super-helpful card company is Thortful, one of the newest and coolest greeting card retailers online. I fell in love with the brand as soon as I logged on to their website. I was actually searching for information on writing greetings and found lots of helpful advice on their blog (more of that later!) when I stumbled onto their website. It’s a really slick, user-friendly site and is packed full of amazing card designs. Of course, the first category I searched for was Valentine’s Day, but there’s also plenty of birthday greetings, thank you cards, celebrations and special occasions. I’d definitely call it a one-stop-shop. valentines day greetings card inspiration thortful valentines day greetings card inspiration thortful-8When I’ve shopped on other card sites in the past, I’ve found it really hard to find what I want. You probably all know that I’m really into puns, so I know what I’m looking for almost before I begin. The trouble is being able to browse through the designs quickly, without a whole load of gumph in the sidebars distracting me from my search. No such problems with this site; it’s really easy to navigate, plus there’s an app you can download to make scrolling through the collection even easier. You can personalise the message within seconds (or have it posted to yourself to hand-write if you prefer) and see a real-time preview of what the card will look like. Enter the recipient’s delivery address and boosh! Your greetings card is on it’s way to your favourite person. Don’t forget to use the discount code to get 50% off – it’s “CassieFairy50”.HeartCardvalentines day greetings card inspiration thortful-5If you’re stuck for ideas of what to write inside your card, the Thortful blog is a great source of inspiration. I’ve read through their helpful posts about phrases and messages to write inside thank you cards, Christmas cards and more, so you’ll be sure to get some inspiration for your own message while checking out these posts. It’s definitely worth checking out the blog anyway to read interviews with card designers and to check out inspiring photography tips.THRTFL-VLNTNS-NICE_V1[10] valentines day greetings card inspiration thortful-7Oh, and you can also Continue reading “How to get 50% off Valentine’s cards with Thortful” »


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Enjoy breakfast-in-bed this Valentine’s Day… & all year round!

Whether you’re loved up or single, why don’t you treat yourself to a lovely lie-in this Valentine’s Day? Seeing as V-day falls on a Sunday this year, it’s the ideal day of the week to spend some time chilling out at home and lounging around in bed for just a little longer than you usually would.DIY romantic breakfast in bed valentines day ideas inspiration-14 DIY romantic breakfast in bed valentines day ideas inspirationOne of my favourite stress-free activities is having breakfast in bed. Okay, it doesn’t happen very often in the Fairy household because we’re always so busy working. But that’s precisely the point; breakfast in bed should be something special. A treat. Something that tells you it’s time to relax and that you’re not getting out of that comfy bed anytime soon!DIY romantic breakfast in bed valentines day ideas inspiration-10 DIY romantic breakfast in bed valentines day ideas inspiration-9It puts me in mind of Mother’s Days past, and I remember trying to make mum a tea-and-toast breakfast in bed while I was still in the single-figures age bracket. I even do it now as an adult, and occasionally hubby will get a tray brought to his lap with a coffee and cereal. Okay, that’s usually on his birthday, but that’s what I mean about breakfast in bed; it’s a special event. It’s completely out of the ordinary, yet it would be a lovely start to any day.DIY romantic breakfast in bed valentines day ideas inspiration-17Even if you’re going to be making breakfast for yourself and taking it back to bed, it’s the fact that it symbolises the non-rushed nature of your morning that makes it so enjoyable. You’ll probably even Continue reading “Enjoy breakfast-in-bed this Valentine’s Day… & all year round!” »


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Galentine’s Day party & flavoured hot chocolate recipes

What better time to celebrate your best friends than on Galentine’s Day? Yes, that’s right, I said GALentine’s Day. If you’ve not heard of it yet, it’s simply putting a name to what we’ve all being doing for years; celebrating our friends. I’ve seen so many more Galentine’s-related treats being shared on Pinterest this year; in fact, I’ve hardly paid any attention to Valentine’s Day at all. Whether or not your pal is loved-up or single, I’m sure you have a wonderful friend who deserves a bit of extra love this February. I certainly welcome the chance to celebrate my girl friends and thank them for all the support they give me throughout the year. And what better way to show them you care, than by throwing a cute Galentine’s party?hot chocolate recipes for galentines day diy party gift idea for friends girlfriends-11 hot chocolate recipes for galentines day diy party gift idea for friends girlfriends-15Today I wanted to share my ideas for a cosy hot chocolate party; a night in with your pals, scoffing all the naughty treats you usually resist during the rest of the year. I know I waffle on about eating healthily, but enjoying a little of what you fancy every now and again is just as important as eating the good-for-you things. Your Galentine’s Day get-together is the ideal time to indulge and provide some tasty treats for your favourite peeps. So here’s a couple of new hot chocolate flavours that I’m adding to my Galentine’s menu:

Salted caramel: Make up a steaming mug of hot chocolate and add a splash of caramel syrup. I had a set of 5 small syrups that I was given as a birthday gift a while ago, but you can buy a similar set at Amazon (such as these Monin Syrups for Coffee). Add one crunch of sea salt (don’t go crazy with the salt otherwise you’ll end up with a savoury hot chocolate). Next is the fun part; stir in chunks of caramel chocolate bar and let them melt for a really indulgent treat. Top with whipped cream, marshmallows and crumbled up flake. Mmm.

Cherry bakewell: There are two options for this hot chocolate flavour – saintly or boozy! Add a splash of vanilla syrup to a mug of hot chocolate and then decide whether you add a splash of amaretto-flavoured syrup or a shot of Disaronno! Stir it into the hot chocolate to get that really cherry-marzipan flavour before topping with cream, chocolate and cherries. If you have a bakewell tart hanging around you could crumble some of the cake onto the cream too. Yum!

How cute are these smiley mugs? I got them from Continue reading “Galentine’s Day party & flavoured hot chocolate recipes” »


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Operation organise! The never-ending battle to keep my desk tidy

Whether you’re working in an office environment or you’ve got your own personal space at home, keeping your work area neat can sometimes be a tricky task. I know I struggle to keep that stack of paperwork under control! Throw in numerous cups of tea and lunch at my desk and things are starting to look pretty messy by the end of the day. As the saying goes, a tidy desk makes for a tidy mind, so if you’re keen to organise your workstation, you could take the following suggestions into consideration.coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-6Invest in savvy storage solutions

Unless you have access to suitable storage, it’s likely you’re going to struggle when it comes to keeping your workstation and office organised. From cupboards and filing cabinets to drawers and shelving, there are a whole host of convenient and useful furnishings that can bring order to your work area. To keep your immediate workstation tidy, you could invest in an office desk with inbuilt drawers or you could position a mobile pedestal underneath. It made a real difference to me when I made a desk out of a chest of drawers (see my desk DIY project) because I suddenly had somewhere to stash away everything that was making the top of my desk untidy. Having storage solutions like this within such close proximity to your workspace should make it easier for you to maintain an orderly and clear working environment.

Ditch the paper and go digital

If you find that your desk is often covered in piles of paperwork, or your shelves are looking rather precarious with massive box-files balanced on them, you could benefit from going digital. Instead of having physical copies of your documentation, you could choose to scan and store them on your computer. There are a wide variety of software and hardware options available which allow you to store files where you can access them easily; I invested in personal ‘cloud’ storage so all my files are on a hard-drive on the shelf and I can access them via wifi from any device. Ditching the paper to digitise is not only a good way to save space and reduce cluttering, but it’s great for the environment too.coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-8Create an effective filing system
While digitising your paperwork is an easy way to rid your workspace of unnecessary clutter, you’re likely to have some important documentation that you simply need to keep. For paper-based items that you can’t be without, you could create an effective filing system. Whether you choose to use a filing cabinet or a hard-backed folder, keeping them labelled is the key to having well-organised paperwork. Alphabetising or ordering your paperwork by importance could make it easier for you to refer to a particular piece of documentation quickly and easily.

Schedule tidying time into your routine
So that your office looks smart and neat at all times, you might benefit from scheduling some tidying time into your daily routine. When was the last time I cleaned my keyboard? I literally can’t remember, which is pretty gross. I’m going to finish writing this post and then clean it straight away! From wiping down your desk to organising your drawers, making the effort to clean, tidy and declutter every day will help you maintain a well-kept workspace. You could try doing this at the end of the day so you can enjoy a clear office every morning and start work with a fresh mind.coffee table styling for work tea and romantic evening-9Taking some of these tips on board could help you create and maintain a tidy and organised working environment. What do you think of these ideas? What do you do to keep yourself tidy and organised at work? I’d love to hear your tips so please leave me a comment below, and if you’ve found this post useful please share it with your friends by using the sharing buttons below or by pinning one of my photos onto your Pinterest boards. Thanks!


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Relationship tips for Valentine’s Day & beyond

Yesterday I read a newly launched article (and challenge!) about getting and staying close to the one you love; 27 Expert tips to be closer to you spouse. The article taps into the knowledge of experts from the fields of psychology, relationships, counselling and health care, asking each professional to share advice on maintaining a long and happy relationship. With Valentine’s Day coming up next week, I was intrigued and decided to read on to find out what the pros had to say!27Ways_Main_TwitterThe article shares lots of sound advice for good communication, building trust and managing arguments, all of which would prove very useful within a relationship. The experts are sharing tips on social media each day throughout February and have challenged readers to try out a tip each day to ensure a loved-up month. I like the idea of joining in with a month of challenges, especially when we’re all thinking about love this Valentine’s Day – wouldn’t it be lovely to take the romance with us into the year ahead? The article not only focuses on the psychological aspect of relationships, it also shares some fun ideas for activities and romantic things to do together too.27 tips for being closer to your spouseAside from the focus on couples, the tips were actually applicable for all kinds of communication, such as with friends, family and children. I was actually more interested in the tips that could be applied to different areas of life and they really made me think about the way I interact with others. Continue reading “Relationship tips for Valentine’s Day & beyond” »