May 22, 2017
by Cassiefairy
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Thrifty tips for getting hitched

It’ll probably come as no surprise to you when I say that weddings are expensive. If you are planning to get legally married in the UK in a church for example, you can’t do it for less £456 (and that’s if you’re getting married in your home parish). That’s still quite a chunk just to sort out the legalities of the whole thing. So with that out of the way, what other things can we look to to keep the costs down?Make your own

From making your own invitations and place settings, all the way to making your own dress (or getting a friend/family member to help out!), these things will end up saving you a lot of money in the long run. Any time that you can save money by making something yourself means that you’ll have more money to spare on essentials for the wedding. For example, I made some really easy, cheap and quick-to-make photo props for a party, check out my DIY photobooth tutorial on my blog! For most decor, food and stationary items, you’re are mainly paying out for labour costs of someone else to making it for you so can save a chunk of money by doing it yourself. If you start early enough (i.e many many months in advance) and plan effectively, you should be able to make the majority of the things needed within the wedding yourself or with the help of friends. And don’t forget that the wedding cake is just a normal cake wearing a lovely outfit, so I’m sure someone will be able to help you with that! 

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May 20, 2017
by Cassiefairy
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How to create more space in a child’s bedroom

Sure, I’m no expert on kid’s bedrooms, but whenever you’re planning the design of any room in the home, you’ll want to be as economical with space as possible – and your child’s bedroom is no exception. There are a variety of inventive ways you can save space without skimping on quality or aesthetics. I wrote about space saving design for us adults earlier this year so, to introduce you to some space-saving wizardry for kids, I’ve now come up with a list of tips and tricks you can you use in your child’s bedroom to make the most of the space:

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Wall-mounted fittings

By defying gravity and freeing up precious floor space for playing, wall mounted fittings are a blessing for saving space. Items such as lamps, bedside tables and fold-down desks use the walls for structural support, allowing you to generate space beneath them, that wouldn’t otherwise exist. With a surprising air of elegance, even wall mounted wardrobes are increasingly becoming popular with parents. Sleek wall-mounted shelves and hanging rails are replacing the bulky, oppressive wooden wardrobe, and are much safer too. At least your little one won’t be able to topple the wardrobe over by pulling themselves up. Don’t be surprised if we see the traditional wardrobe becoming extinct in the near future as rails take over.

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Book, books and more books

If you have a small child, it is safe to assume that you are inundated with books. Well, there’s nothing better than a bedtime story for encouraging children to get into bed, is there?! Investing in vertical wall-mounted book racks is an innovative way of turning the books into an artistic addition to the décor. Children’s picture books tend to be adorned with colourful illustrations, and by hanging them in vertical book racks, you can create a vivid, illustrative tapestry on your child’s walls. Similarly, a chair library (or simply a hollow chair) is another inventive way to use pretty picture books as a decorative tool without sacrificing any additional space. Ease of access is a bonus; from the comfort of the chair, any book you wish to read is within arm’s reach.

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High sleeper

The benefits of high sleeper beds are many. Climbing a ladder to get into bed makes sleeping seem like an altogether more interesting and worthwhile pursuit, for a start! The space vacated by the traditional bed can be used for anything from a pull-out bed or lounging zone, to useful storage space or an extra play area. In fact, turning the space under the bed into a den gives kids another place to play and be imaginative. 

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I hope that these ideas have given you some inspiration for finding a little extra space in your child’s bedroom. Children accumulate so much stuff so anything that helps with storage or creating extra space to play has got to be a good thing, right? Let me know how you’ve decorated your own kids’ bedrooms by leaving me a comment below and I’d be interested to see some photos so please tag me on on twitter @Cassiefairy or instagram @Cassiefairy.

May 17, 2017
by Cassiefairy
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My home office makeover – getting inspiration from STUDIO + win a copy!

I’ve got two copies of the newly released book STUDIO by Sally Coulthard to be won – read on to enter the giveaway!When I first viewed my house, I was specifically on the look-out for an office space to call my own. In previous homes I’d had a desk in the corner of the living room, but that meant that my work was always there. I found myself tempted to do just a bit more work in the evenings because I wasn’t getting away from it. Plus, I didn’t like leaving any files out, so always had to pack away everything I was working on in order to keep the living room looking tidy.Of course, I had my little vintage caravan to work in during the warmer weather, but I found out that I wasn’t much of a fan of working outside when it was snowing! Plus, having the caravan outside and a desk inside meant that all my projects were in different places. It meant a lot of moving around for me and lugging laptops and sewing machines from one spot to another. So you can see why an office was at the top of my list.

Photos of textile designer Catherine Derksema’s studio (above and below) by photographer Rachel Kara 

Okay, having an extra bedroom for me to use as an office seemed a little pie-in-the-sky when we first started house hunting. We’d be lucky to get one bedroom in some of the towns we looked out, let alone a spare room. But if you’ve read my blog post about why I didn’t by my dream home, you’ll know that I ended up with exactly the space I needed, albeit in a location I hadn’t previously considered and in a style of building that I never thought I’d live in. 

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May 16, 2017
by Cassiefairy
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Tuesday Shoesday – Time for tennis?

When the sun starts shining and the smell of freshly cut grass is in the air, that can only mean one thing; time for tennis. With the Italian Open already in full swing and Wimbledon coming up in July I wanted to get onto the courts and try my hand (or should that be arm?) at tennis. You see, I’m a fan of watching tennis but I’ve never really had the chance to play much. Until now, that is.Since moving house, I’ve discovered a whole plethora of outdoor activities right on my doorstep. There are lovely walks nearby, a golf course (and I’ve promised my husband a round or two), swimming and cycling. And, luckily, there tennis courts just up the road. I’ve been walking past and seeing people knocking a ball around for a few weeks now and I’m really keen on the idea of joining in.

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May 14, 2017
by Cassiefairy
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My bathroom renovation project – Bold blue tiles

Welcome back to another installment in my bathroom renovation – blimey, it’s taking longer than I expected: I thought we’d be done within 5 days but nooo. So far we’ve taken out the old bathroom and prepared the whole room for some new plumbing, tiles and fittings – we’ve come a long way since I shared those first horrid bathroom photos, I can tell you! The next step was to install the pipework for the shower behind a false wall, so I’ve already shared this process with you last week. The tiling on the back wall of the bathroom needed to be done before we could install the pipes for the shower unit, so you’ve may have already seen a glimpse of the top quality tiling we’ve done but here’s a blog post all about it.First of all, let me tell you that I took ageeees to choose my tiles so I really hope you’ll agree that I made an excellent choice! The room is really small, so the sensible thing to do would be all-white tiles to bounce the light around and make the room feel as big as possible. But when have I ever done the sensible thing, eh?Nope, I wanted something bold, sleek and colourful so I hunted high and low for the right tiles. In fact, there was a period of about a month when all you would have seen on my Pinterest account was hotel-like bathroom designs and eccentric tile patterns. But all my plans for crazy coloured grout went out of the window when I found my dream tiles at Tile Trader.
These blue tiles were ideal for two reasons; firstly, they were suitable for both floors and shower walls – perfect for what I had in mind, and secondly, they were a rich denim blue colour. I didn’t want a primary-school blue, nor did I want navy, or any kind of coastal design. I’d done that in the bathroom of my previous home and was over it. I no longer wanted the ‘holiday home’ look – I was upping my game to hotel standard, haha!So the shade of mid-blue was ideal but what made this tile even more perfect was the pattern. You can’t really see that the tiles are patterned from a distance but, up close, they have a subtle woven design that looks like fabric. A lot like denim jeans, actually. They’re not textured on the surface, it’s a smooth mid-sheen finish, but the fabric-like effect is gorgeous. Continue reading “My bathroom renovation project – Bold blue tiles” »

May 13, 2017
by Cassiefairy
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Tips for men’s wedding attire (on a budget!)

Weddings are just fantastic occasions, aren’t they?! Attending someone’s special day is a great opportunity to relax as a family, catch up with friends and enjoy a nice meal. Oh, and to wish the bride and groom every happiness in their life together, of course! I love a good wedding and especially enjoy planning and making a special gift for the happy couple.

And, hip-hip-hooray, I get a little treat for myself. It’s not often that I get to buy a new dress so having the excuse to do a little shopping feels like such a treat. It’s also the perfect opportunity to buy the man in your life a nice suit, one that can be worn all year round for work, as well as looking dapper at the wedding. To help you to do that, I have put together this simple checklist for looking fantastic even when shopping on a tight budget.Smart and special

Even if you have limited funds it is especially important not to lose sight of the fact that you are attending a special event. No man should attend someone’s wedding looking like they are ready for a day at the office. They need to be dressed in a way that shows that they have made a special effort to look their absolute best. But this does not mean that they can’t buy an off the peg suit or pick out one that’s already in their wardrobe…

It’s all about the way they style it up for the wedding. High street and online retailers, like this one, sell well made suits that are special enough to be worn for a wedding with a few choice accessories to turn it into a special occasion outfit. After the event, he could dress it down with a crisp white shirt and coordinating tie and get his money’s worth by wearing it for work too.

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May 12, 2017
by Cassiefairy
14 Comments

Pieday Friday – Salt ‘n’ pepper squid + win a copy of London: The Cookbook

Today I’m sharing a surprisingly simple recipe that the author of London: The Cookbook, Cara Frost-Sharratt, has kindly sent over for all my Pieday Friday readers to enjoy. And that’s not all – I’ve also got two copies of this newly released book to give away to 2 lucky readers so be sure to enter the giveaway below! Who knows? You could be whipping up these famous signature dishes yourself, if you get lucky in my competition 🙂Today’s recipe is a seafood dish that I’ve always shied away from in the past. Sure, my husband loves a spot of calamari, but I always thought that squid would be difficult to cook, so have never even attempted it at home. But this recipe, made famous by restaurants across London’s Chinatown, breaks it down and makes it so easy that you could just throw it in a pan and create a super-impressive starter in minutes. Here’s how it’s done:

Ingredients (serves 4): 450 g (1lb) baby or medium squid, 2 tbsp coarse salt, 1 tbsp freshly ground black pepper, 2 tbsp rice flour or cornflour (cornstarch), vegetable or sesame oil, for frying, 2 limes, halved

  1. Prepare the squid by pulling the head apart from the body. Sever the tentacles and trim. Pull out the backbone from inside the body sac and then clean the body inside and out, removing any skin.
  2. Slice the squid into rings, then pat dry and place on a dish with the tentacles. Mix the salt and pepper with the flour, tip it over the squid and toss well to coat evenly.
  3. Heat enough oil in a wok or heavy-based saucepan for deep-frying. Cook the squid rings in batches, until they crisp and turn golden, about 1–2 minutes.Cook the squid quickly so the batter is crispy but the squid remains tender.
  4. Drain on kitchen towel and serve with lime to squeeze over.

Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? I think I’m going to give it a go myself and see how it compares to ‘the real thing’ in London’s Chinatown. Well, I’ll give it my best shot, anyway! In the meantime, here’s a little more info about London: The Cookbook, and read on to enter the giveaway below… Continue reading “Pieday Friday – Salt ‘n’ pepper squid + win a copy of London: The Cookbook” »

May 11, 2017
by Cassiefairy
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Kitchen tile trends for 2017

Can you believe that we’re already five months into 2017?! With that in mind I thought it was about time I teamed up with those little scamps over at Tile Monkey to see if we could put together a little list of what’s hot on the kitchen tile front.

Kicking off with the incredibly beautiful Hexagon tiles, these unique designs took originally took off in the early 1920’s but they seem to have seen a bit of a revival over the last couple of years and I expect they’ll remain a popular choice throughout the rest of 2017.  These bold, daring tiles can transform your home with the simplest of touches, which although subtle, are incredibly effective.  Hexagon tiles come in an array of designs and colours, each one adding its own unique spin to any room that it is placed in. In my humble opinion, I think Hexagon tiles will continue to grow in popularity due to their ability to completely modernise your kitchen with the simple form of a six-sided shape.

Hexagon tiles come in all kinds of sizes and colours – love this teeny tiny mosaic version

You know the old saying about black never going out of style? Well, installing black tiles in your kitchen is one way to ensure that it will never look dated. Black tiles give a fresh and ultra-modern feel but maintain a classy vibe within the area. The beauty of black tiles is that you can use them to decorate the entire room or just use them in line with a feature wall or as part of a splashback. There’s such a huge variety from slate tiles to stunning mosaics and, when paired up on-trend brass or chrome accessories, they can really bring your kitchen to life.

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May 10, 2017
by Cassiefairy
1 Comment

How to create a ‘smart’ bedroom with the latest tech

Are you looking for a decorating project to take on in your home this season? If so, you might want to think about remodeling and redesigning your bedroom. When we think about the most important rooms in our home, we often go straight to the kitchen or the bathroom. In a way, this makes a lot of sense because the bathroom and kitchen have the most potential if you want to add value to your home. But what if you’re after more than that?

Let’s not forget that the bedroom is the perfect place for relaxing and you need to make sure it’s set up right if you want a good night of sleep. As such, it is important to think about your bedroom design.  I’m currently decorating my own bedroom at the moment. So far I’ve painted the whole room, laid new flooring, my new bed has arrived and I’ve picked out some brightly coloured bedding. There’s still wallpapering to be done and a wardrobe to be fitted so watch this space!

Of course, if you’re aiming for a complete remodel, there’s more to think about than just the basics. There are plenty of fun (and luxurious!) features you can add to your bedroom that will certainly make it an incredible part of your home. Let’s start off by thinking about a feature that a lot of people would love in their bedroom.

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Step Inside Your Wardrobe

If we’re looking at the most sought-after luxury bedroom features, a walk in wardrobe would certainly top the list. The easiest way to give yourself a walk in wardrobe is to build one inside the room, rather than knocking through the wall of your bedroom. Of course, this is going to limit the size of your room, but if you have quite a large open space for your bedroom, it might be worth it. Particularly if it gives you a place where you can store everything all in once place. You’ll need to think about lighting too, and LED strips are great for running around the ceiling of your wardrobe and lighting up shelves. Well, there’s no point in having a walk in wardrobe if you can’t see anything once you step inside, is there?!

You probably have a lot of ideas for your own walk in wardrobe. But the trick is to make sure that everything is easy to see and completely accessible. You should be able to step in and immediately find the outfit you’re looking for. One of the ways to do this by having an electronic system that moves the clothes around as you open the door. Honestly, it’s not just something from the film Clueless – I’ve seen a system like this at Grand Designs Live and now I want one myself! It’s a cool feature for sure, but one that will need intricate engineering work to get right!

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May 9, 2017
by Cassiefairy
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Latitude theatre & comedy line-ups + my tips for what not to miss

Latitude Festival. What can I say about it really? If you’ve not already been to this festival on the Suffolk coast, you don’t know what you’re missing. It’s got to be the most chilled out festival in the country. It’s great for kids, teens and adults. It actually looks magical, and is especially atmospheric at dusk. With music, theatre, comedy, dance and literature, there really is something for everyone. Fellow festival-goers are friendly and the famous folk wander around with the rest of us. And, for me, it’s one of the highlights of my year. So when the theatre line-up was announced yesterday, I knew I wanted to share the news with you all straight away. The great thing about Latitude is that they don’t announce all the acts at once. Instead the excitement builds as more and more performers sign up for the festival and details of new acts are released. Did you know there’s a Latitude Festival YouTube Channel? Videos include interviews with artists, films of the festivals and a spotlight on each of the stages. Keep an eye on their social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter too, as this is where all the current news and announcements will be shared first.Latitude’s curator of theatre arts, Tania Harrison, just announced this summer’s theme as ‘come the revolution’ and has invited artists and theatre companies from all around the world to explore the idea of revolution, social change and empowerment. Such performances can be found popping up all over the festival, with stories being told through dance on the Waterfront stage, opera and live art in the Faraway Forest and through variety performances in the Cabaret tent (my personal favourite).If you’ve read my reviews of Latitude over the years, you’ll know that the main reason that this festival is a must for me is the comedy. It’s always an exciting moment when the line-up of performers is announced, and I start planning my festival schedule accordingly. This year I’m excited to see Dara O’Briain – a comedian I’ve never seen live before but that I’ve enjoyed watching on Stargazing Live over the past few years. I’m also keen to see Katherine Ryan; I’ve seen her perform at Latitude in the past and I’ve been laughing-out-loud at her Netflix Original comedy show this month so I’m expecting great things from this comedian.

Now, here are my tips for what not to miss at Latitude 2017…

Continue reading “Latitude theatre & comedy line-ups + my tips for what not to miss” »

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