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 fairy lights for Christmas AND Halloween!

I know I sometimes go on about Christmas a little too early but this time it’s for good reason: If you get your fairy lights for Christmas sorted out now, you can make the most of them by using the lights to decorate Halloween too! I’ve already got a few packs down from the loft – especially some red and green ones that I picked up in the sale last year – and I’m planning on stringing them up outside my house ready for Halloween.

Scary window display & red berry lights from John Lewis

Using fairy lights is a great way to make your home look inviting when you want to welcome families of Trick Or Treat-ers to your door; you could line your windows with lights and stick some spooky silhouettes to the glass. It’s good to put out the traditional lit pumpkin too, but fairy lights can even help to illuminate your path if you spread them out along the ground or attach them to poles to create a twinkling rope fence. The lights will give an eerie glow on the approach to your house and will be especially scary in red!

illuminated trees & colourful outdoor lights from John Lewis

Weaving fairy lights around your trees in the garden is especially good if you’re having a Halloween party as it will provide another ‘room’ for party-goers as they spill out onto your patio and will keep the party going outside as well as inside. You could also use traditional white fairy lights to wrap around pumpkins or to fill jars and lantern, and place these around the porch or even indoors on the dinner party table.

I think these are fabulous ways to create a scary decor for Halloween and wouldn’t you agree that buying your Christmas fairy lights now is a thrifty way to make the most of your purchase?! Plus you’ll be ready to decorate your Christmas tree and home as soon as December 1st arrives, haha!


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What to wear to a winter wedding 2014

We all know I’m a fan of a good dress. Any time that I’m shopping online or in the stores, I always head straight to the dress section and simply cannot resist a well-fitting, figure-flattering dress. There are so many different lovely styles you can choose from and they work well in a variety of situations, from nights out clubbing to formal work socials, the dress is the perfect opinion for any situation. Now when it comes to weddings it normally pretty set in stone what the bride and her bridesmaids are going to be wearing, but this begs the more difficult question of what should you wear as a guest? The answer is simple really, a dress of course! There are a number of different options to go for and numerous other things you can add to your outfit to make it look even better, just don’t out-do the bride, haha!

Keep it simple

Everyone knows that the little black dress has been a staple in many people’s wardrobes for a great number of years and for good reason. The versatility of the dress makes it a must-have fashion item, it’s easy to dress up for a formal work event or business attire and is just as easy to dress down for a casual night out with friends. When it comes to weddings the little black dress is a safe choice that will always look good, just add some ornate jewellery and a clutch bag to complete the outfit. The contrast of the between your black dress and the brides’ white dress will make you look even better, and help make the bride stand out even more, which is definitely important at their wedding. I really love my midi wrap-dress below for weddings because it’s more than just a little black dress – the floral pattern really makes it a dress for all seasons and it’s a very demure, classy style. Just remember to not wear a dress that is too short or low-cut and make sure you look presentable as you don’t want to ruin the wedding photographs!

A LBD & my favourite wedding dress from House of Fraser

Jewellery

The bride has numerous tools like the budget trackers, seating planners and guest managers, all of which are available at Wedding Site, that help her add the finishing touches to her wedding. Similarly, jewellery is one of the many extra tools you have available to you to add those ever so important finishing touches to your own outfit. The use of jewellery can add so much to an outfit if used correctly and with a wedding it is normal to go all out with necklaces, ear rings, bracelets and rings. Remember to compliment your clothes with your jewellery, choose a small necklace and a more ornate bracelet if you’re wearing a medium or high-neck dress with no sleeves, or go for a bigger necklace and some dangly ear-rings if you opt for a more low-cut, thin and long dress.

Complete your outfit with a big coat

One of the most important parts of any winter wedding outfit is some form of jacket or coat to accompany your evening wear. The winter period is a favourite for weddings due to the tranquil scenery and seasonal festivities but, of course, the weather much colder, so it is important to wrap up warm to be ready whatever the weather. A nude tailored coat is ideal choice for any smart occasion and neutral colours will work well with any outfit, giving you the freedom to experiment with your choice of dress and shoes. Pastel colours are also ideal for weddings and a classy coat will keep you warm and comfortable during the day while letting the rest of your outfit shine later in the evening.

Turn heads with a midi dress

Obviously it is important to not steal the show from the bride on the biggest day of her life but surely you can you can turn a few heads? Midi dresses are becoming increasingly popular as guest attire for a winter wedding, granting the perfect combination of boldness and sophistication, with the added warmth that the extra length gives you. During the day accompany the dress with a chic jacket or cardigan. A bright colour really suits the long, flowing style of the dress and will make your dancing look even better (and let’s be honest, some of us need all the help we can get!).

A fabulous midi dress & I can dance all night in these peep-toe wedges!

Wear some hard working heels

A part of your outfit that is just as important as the dress are the shoes that will be keeping you up for the entire day and night. A classic style of shoe and comfort are the most important things to consider as you will be standing during the ceremony, mingling during the reception and dancing the night away. Open-toe heels are always a good choice at weddings, looking chic yet smart and sophisticated if paired with a nice dress, also giving your feet room to breathe with dancing. Obviously whatever feels comfortable for you is the best thing to go for, just remember as the ideal wedding guest you will have to dance no matter how much your feet are hurting!


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How to increase the amount of space in your home

For the first time in years, new research has revealed that space has overtaken location as the first and foremost concern for British homeowners. In a survey of 2,000 homeowners, bigger rooms topped the list of the most important criteria when shopping for a new property, and one in six people admitted to being dissatisfied with the size of the rooms in their current home.

So what can you do? Rather than move, homeowners should look at maximizing space and adding value to the property they already have. If you need more space, but can’t afford or don’t want to move, here are some top tips for increasing the space available in your home.

loft conversion

image source

Get a Loft Conversion

Start by making use of every available inch of space. For example, do you have a loft that could be converted in order to make it habitable? Making changes will require some capital, but a loft conversion tends to be quicker, easier and cheaper to obtain than its alternatives because it involves using space that’s already there as opposed to creating more. To help you finance the change, special loans are often available, such as the loft conversion options offered by Nemo Loans. However, secured loans are only to be considered by those who can comfortably afford the monthly repayments, or you could risk losing your home. A Nemo loan is secured on your home.

Build an Extension

Well-planned extensions will not only add space, but may also add value to your home. To get an idea of how much capital another bedroom will add to your property before you pay for it, take the time to look at house prices in your area. If an extension will cost more to install than it will add to the price tag, consider how much you really want the extra space.

conservatory ideas for a kitchen

 image source

Add a Conservatory

A conservatory is another great way to add extra space to your property, and is usually quick to build, boosts your home’s appeal, costs far less than other options and doesn’t require planning permission.

Make Some Internal Changes

Before you hand over the money for an extension or loft conversion, think about whether you could increase the space and potential of your property simply by changing the internal layout. Taking out or repositioning internal walls can significantly increase the space available to you – just refrain from reaching for the sledgehammer until you’ve ascertained that your target isn’t a load-bearing wall!

One other thing to consider before you embark on a large number of changes to your property is whether planning permission will be required. The costs and time around this should also be factored into your project timelines and budget.

DIY country floral bedroom ideas from House to Home


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Just how house-proud are you?

If you’re anything like me, your home is your hobby. People like us have been flicking through homewares catalogues since our teens, planning out our ideal bedroom (yes, I did this – it was all black ash and hot pink in those days!), and browsing interior design magazines whilst daydreaming about our ‘dream home’ (“I’ll have that rustic bedroom but with a four-poster bed” etc). Nowadays it’s even easier to find home inspirations – you can barely go online without a gorgeous interiors photoshoot or DIY blog post jumping out at you! We’re interested in interiors, cookery, crafting and getting the look for less so we wander down the homewares aisle at the supermarket and always end up bringing home another candle or vase. If this sounds like you – read on! coastal seaside house inspiration moodboard

One of my many ‘dream home’ mood boards!

I found out about a fun survey that Carpetright are running on their website until the 13th November which gives you the chance to win a £250 Virgin Experience voucher so of course I entered the competition and took the survey. As I progressed through the survey I was a little surprised by my own answers and it turns out that I’m not quite the clean freak that I thought I was! The survey asked a lot of cheeky and funny questions about dust on your plug cables (guilty), pets (yes, mine ‘rule the house’!) and even how often you clean the toilet! I’ve previously written about a survey on Netmums about how often people change their bed sheets and I thought that I had a rather clean routine but not according to these results, haha!

DIY country floral bedroom ideas from House to Home

It turns out that I am a ‘Nester'; somewhere between fairly house proud and clean but without much time to do it so I prioritise other things. The survey results hit the head on the nail when it told me that I spend a lot of my time searching for inspirational home updates – have they been watching me on Pinterest every evening?!

So what level of house-proud do you think you are? Would you dare shove your hand down the side of the sofa?! What do the treats you buy for yourself say about you? Take the fun survey to find out and don’t forget to enter to win the Virgin vouchers at the end!

steam railway 40s weekend and vintage fashion-6


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Tuesday Shoesday ~ a history lesson in 40s footwear

As you know I’ve started learning to swing dancing, including lindy hop, charleston and now balboa, all of which are intrinsically linked to the 1940s era. I’ve been going to hangar dances and I’m attending another 40s dance this coming weekend. I’ve been delighted to find that there is quite a vintage ‘scene’ going on in the area I live so this very weekend I had a choice of four dances to go to on Saturday night! You may have already spotted some of my vintage clothing blog posts, but I’ve hardly mentioned the footwear. This is mainly due to the fact that when I dance, my feet need to be comfortable so that I can bust some moves on the dancefloor so I’ve worn the same pair of shoes every time. IMG_6337IMG_6359

My preferred dancing shoes are a simple pair of plain black low-heel shoes with a baby-doll strap. They are simple but are so comfortable and I’ve owned them for about 8 years – long before my passion for dancing came into being. But even back then, they were my go-to shoes for nights out with my friends as I knew that I would still be comfortable on the walk home, even after a whole evening of dancing. So when I started going to dance lessons, these shoes were the obvious choice and I’ve worn them to every lesson since. I’ve written about them before in my article about taking care of your shoes, and this pair have been reheeled and buffed up to a fine shine many times over the years, which is why I think they have lasted so long. The problem is that I’m starting to worry about the day when they finally fail, when the heel snaps during a speedy spin or when the buckle pings off after a keen kick. I want to find a suitable replacement but have no clue about what type of shoes to go for.

steam railway 40s weekend and vintage fashion-5steam railway 40s weekend and vintage fashion-6

As you may have seen in my blog post last Tuesday, I have a fab pair of Orla Kiely baby doll heels which I wore to a 40s steam railway event last month. They were comfortable enough for walking around all day long, but these are too heavy with their chunky heels and platform sole to be any good for dancing, plus the t-bar isn’t quite right for the era. So that’s where my research into 40s footwear comes in. I know I want my dancing shoes to be comfortable but I also want them to look good with my choice of vintage attire so I’ve taken a look at what shoe styles were popular during the era. I imagined that the selection of shoes would be quite limited but in contrast I found that there were a large selection of what I would call ‘modern’ styles around in the 1940s so I’m sure that I will be able to find a replica version of these old designs if the originals prove to be too pricey for my thrifty budget!

So first of all I’d like to discuss heel height, and I discovered that shorter stacked heels and chunky square shapes were popular in the 40s. I am rather pleased about this because I prefer a shorter heel and find it difficult to dance in anything over 3 inches so I’m sure that a pair of vintage shoes would be suitable to dance in. I found out that evening shoes were sometimes a little higher, but here’s the thing that really surprised me; wedges were popular in the 1940s! I genuinely thought that this style was a much more recent invention and I spent the whole of my 20s wearing wedges, never realising just how ‘vintage’ I was being! Practical lace-up shoes of the era, such as brogues or Oxford shoes for daytime also featured chunky stacked heels so the women of the 40s were definitely a fan of a little extra height!   1940s shoes styles baby doll slingbacks peep toe

Popular 1940s shoes styles

The Mary Jane shoes or baby doll shoes that I love so much are typical styles of the era. Evening-wear in the 40s usually included straps around the ankle or across the foot and even slingbacks made an appearance. Straps could be added to peep toes, wedges or court shoes/pumps to turn them into jazzy party shoes – again, I thought that peep-toes were a more modern invention – how wrong I was! I think that the addition of straps might have been to do with the energetic lindy-hop dancing the women were doing in the evenings, so that their shoes stayed firmly on their feet during all those jive kicks! 1940s shoes Aldens catalogue from 1949

images from Aldens catalogue 1949

Most of the shoes in the 1940s were black, light tan, brown or olive green with only a few exciting shades of patriotic red, white and blue available. Brighter colours became popular after WW2 as you can see from the yellow shoes in this 1949 catalogue image. Two-tone shoes were popular; not only in Oxford shoes, saddle shoes or loafers as you’d expect, but also around the top of pretty court shoes or slingbacks, so many of these would have contrast stitching or added trim in a different colour. In terms of embellishment, most styles were relatively plain with a little punch-hole decoration in the leather. Bows or flowers in the same fabric or colours of the shoe were added to evening or summer shoes for decoration.

From this research, I have concluded that I should invest in some baby-doll Mary Jane shoes, possibly with a peep toe (and definitely in red or blue!) with a contrast white stitching or perforation pattern around the top. Does anyone have any suggestions of where I can find something like this – original vintage or modern? Please let me know in the comments below! And if you have a favourite pair of vintage shoes yourself, please send me a photo of them, I’d love to see your favourites too :)