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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Styling one tweed dress for work, casual & party time!

I have a lot of clothes yet I hardly ever have anything to wear. In fact, I probably wear the same 5 or 6 outfits over and over again and rest of my clothes continue to hang in pristine condition in my wardrobe. Does this sound familiar? So many women claim to wear just 20% of their clothes 80% of the time and I certainly agree with this statistic. At the start of the year I wrote about making the most of the existing items in my wardrobe and although I’ve tried my best, I just can’t help buying new things and hoping that this will be the one dress that will do me for every occasion. And that’s where my new tweed dress comes in.

David Emanuel tweed dress styled 4 ways David Emanuel tweed dress styled 4 ways-2 David Emanuel tweed dress styled 4 ways-3

Dress from Bonmarche

The dress is designed by David Emanuel (yes, he who created Princess Diana’s wedding dress) for Bonmarche and it’s a lovely grey tweed with a little stretch in it. Just the right midi length for me, it is very figure flattering and I am always happy to have sleeves on a dress! It comes with a skinny black belt and I’ve been wearing it just as it is for a while now. But I wanted to make it work harder for me so I’ve come up with three more ways to wear this dress so that it can be used for work, evening wear and for casual days off – and that’s where we’ll start.

I’ve decided that my casual look should include layers of textures so I’ve combined tweed, with tweed, with tweed. Yes, this is a particularly autumnal look and feels rather ‘countryside’ when I wear it! It’s definitely a cosy combination; I’ve added my tweed jacket and wrapped a soft checked scarf in shades of grey, beige and pink around the neck to tie in all the colours and textures. Even though the jacket is a smart shape, the combination of all three elements makes the outfit more casual and I’d wear a pair of knee-high boots with it during the autumn.

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Jacket from Joules and scarf from Next

My work outfit has been created by simply adding a white shirt underneath the dress. I’m sure everyone has a plain white shirt in their wardrobe so I’ve been able to create this look without any added expense. It makes use of the belt that came with the dress and I’ve added my staple black handbag to complete this smart outfit. I rarely need to be this dressed up for work unless I’m going to a meeting so it’s good to be able to create a neat look without having to invest in a whole work-wear wardrobe. I would wear thick dark tights and patent brogues to finish off this look for Autumn/Winter. David Emanuel tweed dress styled 4 ways-9 David Emanuel tweed dress styled 4 ways-10 David Emanuel tweed dress styled 4 ways-11

Shirt from New Look and handbag from St. Elizabeth Hospice charity shop

Finally, I wanted to be able to wear this dress for nights out and I’ve turned it into a pencil dress by simply adding a thick elasticated belt around the waist and adding a couple of glitzy accessories in the form of this studded clutch bag and black floral necklace. This shows just how easy it would be to transform this dress from a daytime casual or work look into evening wear just by adding a couple of low-cost accessories. I would wear killer heels with this outfit and a pair of seamed tights to emphasise the 40s/50s wiggle-dress shape created by the belt. David Emanuel tweed dress styled 4 ways-13 David Emanuel tweed dress styled 4 ways-14 David Emanuel tweed dress styled 4 ways-16

Clutch and necklace from Apricot and belt from Oxfam Online charity shop

Let me know what you think of these looks and if you can think of any other ways that I can create a different look with the same dress, please get in touch! Leave me a comment below or chat with me on Twitter @Cassiefairy.

Upbeat protein drink breakfast-2

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Enjoy more protein to stay Upbeat!

Over the past week I’ve been blogging about staying active during the winter months and I’ve shared healthy (ish) cocktail recipes using cherry juice. In contrast, I’ve also shared a recipe for a cinder toffee coffee cheesecake so for the purpose of this article we’ll just ignore that one..! Actually, I think I’ve got the balance right in terms of ‘good for you’ versus ‘a little of what you fancy’ and I’ve been thinking about how to keep this going throughout autumn/winter.

I find it easier to be healthy in the summer when the idea of salad for every meal IS enjoyable and there’s plenty of fresh veg growing in my garden. But when the nights get colder and darker, it’s easy to comfort eat on the sofa and load up on stodgy meals. It doesn’t have to be a cycle of unhealthy dinners and no-exercise – how about making a big batch of stew with fresh root vegetables instead? Just remember that portion sizes are key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle over Winter so try not to eat too many second helpings, no matter how delicious it is!Upbeat protein drink breakfast-2

All these vegetables are great for a healthy lifestyle and I’m SO pleased to be able to harvest a courgette and be eating it as part of a healthy pasta meal only 30 minutes later. But what I’m worried about is the lack of protein in my diet, especially when I’m forgoing meat in favour of vegetables a lot of the time.  I’ve been reading up on the benefits of protein and although I eat some chicken for lunch I’m certainly not eating enough protein for it to be beneficial. It is essential for making hormones, enzymes, and immune cells, so I want to be getting my fair share of protein in order to ward off illness during the Winter. The recommendation is that we have a steady intake of protein throughout the day because our bodies cannot store protein like we do carbohydrate and fat, but I can’t be eating chicken for every meal, can I?!Upbeat protein drink breakfast

This is a round-about way of telling you that I’ve just tried out a new product that has recently appeared in the chiller section of my local supermarket. I’ve tried Upbeat, which is a sort of fruity milkshake yoghurt drink and it is delicious. It contains 20g of protein which is a decent amount to consume in a portion and I’ve been enjoying it at breakfast time in order to get some of these essential nutrients into my body first thing in the morning. This is a time of day that I know I won’t be getting much protein otherwise – I don’t really have time to cook eggs for breakfast and I prefer a low fat option – so it’s good to have that boost from a product that isn’t a challenge to drink. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a fan of those little probiotic drinks, so I was really pleased to find out that this product isn’t at all like that!Upbeat protein drink breakfast-3

I’ve chatted to the people at Upbeat to tell them how pleased I was with their product and they have been kind enough to offer a prize bundle for one lucky reader to win. This healthy-living kit includes a filter water bottle, insulated lunchbox, tote bag and plenty more vouchers and Upbeat goodies. If you fancy winning all of these treats, including vouchers for bottles of Upbeat to try for yourself, please enter by following @Cassiefairy on Twitter and retweeting this competition tweet.

Upbeat protein drink competition-2

The competition closes at midnight on Wednesday 22nd October and the winner will be contacted via Twitter.


Autumn in the air

And I’m talking about the scent of autumn. It’s at this time of year that I start getting out my scented candles and enjoying cosy evenings by candlelight. I know lots of my friends choose to use scented candles all year round, but after Christmas I tend to forget to light them and eventually my candles all get put away until the following year. I’ve decided that this week they will all be making a reappearance and I’ll be adding a few new scents to my collection to infuse my home with the lovely scent of autumn. The crackling sound of a burning candle reminds me of fireworks night – the spitting bonfire and lighting sparklers from tealights – and candles are essential for illuminating pumpkin carvings so I’d say that candles really are an important part of the autumn season for me.

I think that burning candles in the evening just makes the whole room feel more snug and cosy, and I don’t know whether they actually give off much heat, but I feel warmer almost straight away after lighting candles. Perhaps it’s a placebo effect but at least it makes me feel cosier and happier so that’s got to be a good thing, right? At the moment I’m enjoying a fresh honey scent in the evenings with these BeeFayre candles and I’ve chosen this range because the products are made in the UK from natural ingredients, plus the brand donates 3% profits to bee conservation and research. I almost can’t wait until dusk before lighting it and filling the room with sweet smells!

scented candles for autumn winter

It doesn’t seem appropriate to light candles when it’s still light outside during summer (apart from citronella candles to get rid of bugs when you’re enjoying summer evenings on the patio, of course!) so the one good thing about the nights getting darker earlier is that it feels right to light candles and enjoy the soft flickering light on a dark evening. If you’re really being frugal, you could turn off all your house lights and cosy up in candlelight, but I had to live like this for a week last autumn when our power went off after the storms so that’s kind of taken the fun out of it a little!

images from John Lewis

I don’t want to go all Christmassy too soon but I couldn’t help myself from heading into the Christmas shop when I was looking to spend some gift vouchers that I have for John Lewis. So now I’ve got a few festive candles on my hit list for this December including a Winter scents candle and my Christmas essential: the advent candle! One of my favourite things to do from December 1st is light a festive advent candle to measure the countdown to Christmas. It’s a fun ritual and it always seems to burn too quickly to start with and you might accidently burn down a couple of days without noticing, and sometimes you’ll miss a day because you’re out for the evening so you need to double-burn the next day to catch up. I enjoy this process and it’s a real signifier that Christmas is approaching. Plus, it’s always the healthy option – no chocolate in that advent calendar haha!

hairstyles for halloween


Halloween hairstyles

Halloween is my favourite time of year. I love getting dressed up, covering myself in fake blood and putting on those all-important cat ears which, if I’m honest, have seen a lot of wear over the years. However, not everyone is a fan of fancy dress and some people can feel a little bit embarrassed when walking down the street. Luckily for you, I’m here to help.

This time of year always brings back those styling tricks and tools that you had almost forgotten about. From serious backcombing to old school crimping, there are so many different types of hairstyles to choose from to help bring out your darker side. halloween hairstyles 1

To achieve extreme, hair-raising volume, all you need is some hairspray and a comb. Start to segment your hair and backcomb each section at the roots. Don’t be afraid to be as messy as you want. To get an even more terrifying look, why not backcomb the whole length of your hair, or add some hairspray into the roots to make your hair stand on end. This is an extravagant look and works perfectly for Halloween. You could also add in a few curls or create an oversized quiff or updo for your fright-night look.halloween hair

I’m sure many of you still have crimpers hidden away somewhere (I know I do), so delve into your drawers and give them a quick dust off. You never know, it may be the perfect hairstyle for your Halloween costume and you may even thank me for it!

Being artistic with your make-up is another way to get that unearthly yet chic style. Try framing your eyes with dark shades of brown, green or purple eye shadow, extending your eyeliner beyond your lid and shading in your eyebrows to deepen your ghoulish look. Ghost white complexions are almost a must on Halloween, so apply plenty of light powder or white face paint to create this effect and finish with nude/light pink lips.hairstyles for halloween

So, what do you think you will be dressing up as this Halloween? Have you thought about what you will do with your hair? Let me know in the comments below!

John Frieda have kindly offered Cassiefairy readers the chance to win some fabulous Sheer Blonde Go Blonder products and YOU could win the kit below for yourself by entering my competition on Twitter – simply follow @Cassiefairy and retweet the competition tweet – click here to enter !

Sheer Blonde Competition


5 ways to keep exercising over the winter

The past few days have definitely seen a shift weather-wise; the Indian summer has finally passed and the cooler weather has set in. I’ve been hiding under a blanket on the sofa rather than going for my usual evening walks even though I know that it is so important to ensure I am sticking to my fitness routine at this time of year for a whole host of reasons, not least because the festive season is an indulgent time of the year! Christmas can also end up being the reason why so many of us decide “keeping fit” is our New Year’s Resolution. Even so, I know that it’s better to have kept this resolution all year round and I don’t want to give up just because the dark nights and weather is putting me off.

Continuing to exercise throughout the winter can also give you a whole of health benefits too; regularly exercising helps to reduce cholesterol build up and makes your heart healthier too. This is especially important in winter months when the change between cold and hot environments moves so quickly and before you know it, you’re exercising solely in the dark. So I’ve researched a few fitness ideas that I’m going to try to stick to in order to make my winter a happy and healthy one, and here’s my plan:

1. Get some help

The best way to ensure you keep exercising is to get someone to help you and keep motivated and when all you want to do is nothing at all. The best way is to get yourself a livefit personal trainer; they are great at keeping you motivated and are extremely knowledgeable about all kinds of training and nutrition. Trainers are passionate about developing strong relationships with their clients as it makes for better, more enjoyable experience and a much easier fitness journey. And why not encourage your friends and family to work out with you? Make an agreement with them so they make sure you exercise, in return for some reward or incentive, OR a punishment if YOU don’t fulfil your promise.

jogging in winter

2. Try some new forms of exercise

There is a wide range of sports exclusive to the cooler months that can be enjoyed when winter comes around. There are adventurous options like snowboarding and ski biking for the daredevils at heart or alternatively, you can find your nearest indoor snow centre that offers snowboarding and skiing lessons. Not only will these sports improve your fitness, but they’ll also make you feel more festive too, as you bundle up and take to the slopes! I particularly like the idea of ice skating and at this time of year it’s often easier to find somewhere to try it out, as skating rinks pop-up at festive events and Christmas markets. Each of these sports are especially suitable for the conditions found at that time of year so it is an easy way to overcome the perils of the cold and icy conditions. With a great deal to choose from, there will be something for everyone and you never know, you might even find a new passion! A easier and less-expensive option is winter walking or hiking – it’s relatively simple to try and lets you relish in the marvels of the winter at a steady, easy pace – yes, you’re exercising and you don’t even know it!

3. Set yourself a goal and achieve it!

Everyone knows that one of the main highlights of Christmas is the delicious feast we all enjoy on Christmas day. There are so many components that come together perfectly to make it one of the best tasting meals of the year. “But aren’t I meant to cutting back on my diet?” I hear you say. Well yes, but if you set yourself a number of fitness goals for autumn and winter and achieve them exactly as you had planned to then you are definitely allowed one day to treat yourself, besides it is Christmas after all!

The reward can be anything, treating yourself to a nice Christmas present, giving yourself a few days off over Christmas or just allowing yourself to eat as much Christmas lunch as you want, just make sure it is something you will really want to work for. As far as the goal goes, just make sure its achievable but still a somewhat significant achievement, something that pushes you, just not too much.

4. Optimise the indoors

The weather outside might be frightful but the briskness of a chilly winter night can definitely work in your favour. Of course, optimising the outdoors is a great way to mix up your existing regime, but for when the weather is just too disgusting, there are so many indoor options around the UK to exploit. I really like the idea of swimming in warm pool when it’s raining outside and exercise will warm you up from the inside out, so if you’re feeling cold, get moving!  If you’re thinking of joining a gym a monthly membership is advised over Pay As You Go classes; not only does it save you so much money, but the commitment encourages you to work out more often.

big snowball fight

Image source

5. Take part in the spirit of the season

One of the best ways to keep exercising is to quite simply become a kid again. Have snowball fights with your friends, building an igloo and even sledding are actually all good exercises during the winter months. There is a lot of exercise involved in a typical snowball fight; collecting and shaping your weapons, running and hiding all burn off more calories than you think as being dressed in warm, heavy clothes means you require more energy to move like normal. You’ll also be sweating more which has so many health benefits.

You should definitely check out how to build an igloo as although it is quite a time consuming process, it is actually quite a good workout, the constant collecting and compacting of snow and placing of blocks helps to burn off lots of calories.

Finally, the effort of walking up and down a hill as well as sledding down is as good a workout as any normal run or jog, and a bit more fun too. Just always make sure you are appropriately dressed, so you can stay outside in the snow for as long as possible without getting too cold or wet, maximising your fitness time.