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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Tuesday Shoesday ~ Chatty feet on holiday

A while ago I wrote about the superb sock brand Chatty Feet and told you how much fun I’d had with my husband and nephew while playing with our new range of character socks. We’ve chased each other – with Mr Grrrril (the scary looking bandit) chasing Brad Feet around the garden until he caught and ticked him! – and we’ve even scripted an intellectual conversation between Sigmund Socks and Professor Brian Sox at a science conference. The idea of these products is to inspire the wearer to play, whether they are little children or big kids (like me!) who refuse to grow up! With the character socks ranging from a tiny 12 months old to men’s size 11.5 it’s easy for all ages to play together and enjoy being a little bit silly.

With the school holidays in full swing, I’ve decided to spend my summer break with Professor Brian Sox and La Diva and we have been enjoying sightseeing, walks along the promenade and chilling out at the beach on our ‘staycation’. The eagle-eyed of you might have noticed some of my travel companions have been posting selfies using my instagram account:

Sightseeing during Prof. Brian Socks’ staycation #selfie #holiday

“I’m NOT camping!” says La Diva #holiday #staycation

Relaxing outside the beach hut #holiday #selfie

La Diva was shocked to discover she was on a nudist beach… #holiday #selfie

Prof Brian Socks #beach #selfie

The sea was much colder than La Diva was expecting! #beach

Prof. Brian Sox enjoying a beer in the local pub #holiday #selfie #staycation

I’ve really enjoyed having a couple of new friends staying with me and I’m sure there will be many more holiday selfies to come during the summer holidays so keep an eye on my Instagram @Cassiefairy


This old thing ~ My ‘new’ vintage dress

I’ve been massively inspired by watching Dawn O’Porter’s This Old Thing show on channel 4 for the past few weeks. I know thrifting is nothing new to this blog and I’m sure you all know that I was huge fan of vintage long before this programme was launched, but it’s just given me an extra bit of inspiration where my ideas had begun to dry up. You may remember that I wrote about my ‘sewing block’ a couple of weeks ago and how I forced myself to sit down and start sewing something, anything, to pull myself out of the slump. Well this TV show has also given me a bit of a kick up the behind to take another look at vintage and see what’s out there that I can made-do-and-mend for myself.

Coincidentally, I also went to an Americana day at Horham and loved the experience of visiting the WW2 airfield, seeing all the militaria on display and taking photos of all the gorgeous old vehicles. Again, you probably know by now that this kind of event is right up my street and the more often I visit a nostalgia show or vintage car rally, the more passionate I become about decades passed and I want to wear the fashion of the era even more than ever. So this week my love of all things vintage, my passion for fashion and my eye for a bargain have all conspired to lead me to buy this dress.

I spotted a clothing stall at the Americana day called ‘Inside Cassie’s Closet’ so how could I not have a browse?? And it would be rude not to buy something beautiful from my namesake. I did have a good ol’ rummage through the rails and this one dress leapt out at me. It’s an old Melissa Lane wrap dress from the 70s – a little newer than I usually go for because I prefer 40s and 50s shapes on me – but I really loved the floral print and the style of the dress. It’s also longer than I’m used to, needs a lot of repairs and not long ago I swore off wearing black altogether, but even though everything seemed to be against this dress, I really really liked it.

The fact that the dress had been split under the arms on both side seams actually worked in my favour because I was able to get the dress at a reduced price and I knew that I could repair it myself, it was simply the case of finding the time! The neckline was also rolling outwards so that the seam was visible, so I thought I’d have a go at top-stitching this to see if I could get it to lie flat.

I’m still not sure about the length of the dress because it is calf-length and I know that I look better when a dress falls on my knees – anything longer swamps my small height! But again, I kind of like it being this length because it seems to go with the 70s style. I might take it up if I really can’t live with it, but wouldn’t hem it shorter and loose the pattern around the bottom of the dress – instead I would take the excess length off at the waistband.

So I’ll be doing a bit of sewing this week and I’ll let you know how I get on with my dress repairs!

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How does your garden grow? Don’t fence me in…

No, actually do fence me in. That’s exactly what the next step is – adding a fence to the side of the garden. Even though it was great having some new-found privacy with the back fence, it looked a bit odd in the garden without any sides to the fence, so we started putting up a side fence to divide our garden from the neighbours. This time we weren’t lucky enough to find a used fence that we could ‘thrift’ so we had to actually buy it from new and start from scratch.

The plus side of this was that I could paint the fence planks before they were nailed to the supporting batons, which ensured that no gaps of unpainted wood appeared when the fence dried out (read my blog post about painting the back fence here) and I know for sure that the wood has been treated on all sides. Plus, our neighbour now has a nicely painted back of the fence to look at and we checked whether our colour choice was okay with them before we started! It took a couple of hours to paint all of the planks on both sizes and my cat Muffin decided to help out after the paint was dry!

So after a lot more painting and more mysterious painting-related leg aches, we put the newly-painted fence up and nailed it along the slightly sloped edge of the garden. I don’t mind the angle at all, not least because following the slope meant that we didn’t need to dig it out order to get a straight top to the fence! Anything that saves on digging is fine with me, especially because I know we’ve got a lot of digging to come when we put in our veggie patch! Even our nephew helped out with the construction work..!

We now have a completely enclosed corner of the garden and can start work on the veggie patch within this area. At the moment we are leaving the left-hand side of the garden un-fenced, because we are planning to bring shed panels into the garden that way. We can put up the rest of the fence after we have installed everything else!


My little vintage caravan ~ A mini desk makeover

I love the thrifty nature of a makeover project to ‘get the look for less’ and I’m always keen to recycle and renovate old or unwanted items to keep them out of landfill. So when I needed a little extra storage space for my little vintage caravan, I headed to the car boot sale and kept my beady eye open for a suitable project to get started on.

Many of the furniture items at the boot fair had rather hefty price-tags and I quickly excluded anything that had already been painted or renovated in the past. I also didn’t want to buy a gorgeous piece of wooden furniture in good condition just to paint over it, so I kept hunting for the perfect piece. At a particularly ‘junky’ stall, I spotted a mini-desk/shelving unit tucked away at the back. The wood on the top of the unit was peeling off and the entire unit was crying out to be sanded down and painted. It would be the perfect desk for my small caravan space and in my mind’s eye I was already imagining all the things I could do to improve it. I tentatively asked about the price (worrying that it would be outside my budget) and was delighted when it was being sold for a ‘secondhand’ rather than ‘antique’ price! I snapped it up for less than a tenner and enlisted my husband to help me carry it back to the car.

As we loaded it into the car I noticed that a butterfly was sleeping beneath the shelf, so the cabinet would forever more be known as ‘the butterfly unit’ and it inspired my choice of colour and designs for decorating the desk. I picked up a couple of cans of pink spray paint from the car boot sale too and stopped off at the local hardware shop to find a new drawer knob. The butterfly fluttered off during the journey home, presumably to find somewhere more suitable to sleep!

That same afternoon, I sanded down the old varnish and wiped it over with a damp cloth to clean off the dust. After the cabinet had dried in the sun, I began spray painting in earnest and covered the unit it a couple of light coats. I left it to dry and came back to the project the following day to spray another fine coat of pink paint to get a smooth finish. I didn’t worry about spraying the back of the cabinet too much, because I knew that I wanted to decorate the inside with paper and fabric.

My tips for renovating a piece of furniture:

  • Clean thoroughly before you begin work on your furniture - inside and out!
  • Sand down wooden furniture to create a surface that paint will adhere to
  • If you’re keeping the wood-grain visible only sand in one direction with the grain
  • Use a vacuum with brush attachment to suck up the dust and wipe over with a damp cloth to get the last of it
  • Make any repairs before you start to paint
  • Make sure the unit if fully dry before painting
  • Spray in long strokes and about 30cm away from the wood to get a smooth finish
  • Build up layers of paint – it’s better to do three or four fine layers because the paint is more likely to run with one thick layer

Here’s how the desk looks at this stage of the ‘renovation’ and I’ll be sure to add some more photos of my progress and (hopefully) the finished cabinet next week:


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Dressing to close the deal

Being self-employed, it’s sometimes difficult for me to know what to wear for business events – should I go corporate and professional or should I try to stand out from the crowd? Similarly if you’re working in an office and going to a sales call, making a pitch or meeting with a client, it’s sometimes tricky to work out what to wear to make the best impression. Can you ever be too smart? What if you work in a creative environment and part of that is expressing yourself through clothing? I’ve done some research into fashion for business and here’s my top tips for dressing to impress:

Dress comfortably

Obviously, you’re not going to dress like a slob to make an impression! But you do need to be comfy. Follow your office’s dress protocol; if your uniform includes trousers, wear good quality, dark trousers without frays or holes. Also, dark clothing, according to studies, makes you look more professional.

Make the shoes shine

Both men and women wanting to impress clients should pay attention to detail, particularly shining those shoes. Worn or scuffed shoes say you don’t pay attention to detail.

Choosing a suit

A blue or black suit is a widely accepted office attire when you want to dress for success, according to reputable corporate clothing suppliers. You can dress us the suit with a splash of colour like a coloured blouse, tie, or shirt. A single simple piece of jewellery can complete the look.

image source

Always dress up

Don’t dress down. If you’re unsure, wear a suit and tie. If business casual is acceptable for your line of work, wear a starched dress shirt, dark trousers, and matching sweater.

Comfort before style

When you want to dress up for business, take emotional and physical comfort into account before style. If you wear high heels or a lot of make-up and it makes you feel like you’re wearing a costume, don’t do it. If you do, chances are your focus won’t be on that important meeting or closing deal but on how you look. Clothing shouldn’t be a primary focus of your meeting either. If people are paying more attention to your clothing than what you have to say, you’ve missed the mark.

Go one up

The concept of dressing for success is to dress one notch above your clients. Corporate clothing suppliers advise that whatever you choose to wear, it is clean, fits well and is stain-free. Women should stay away from tight-fitting outfits that simply act as a distraction.

All images from I Love Fresh Fashions

The timelessness of red

Red is a timeless colour and attracts positive attention. A red scarf, blouse, or jacket will give you that professional edge in today’s business environment. A red tie or handkerchief works well too. Make sure you match the red outfit with your age and meeting environment, or you risk making a negative impact. Continue reading