Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


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6 Crafty ways to preserve your family’s most precious memories

Family memories come and go so quickly. Even when you wait months for a big occasion – marriage, graduations, 1st birthday parties – the time goes by in a blink. You can make the occasion memorable with some of the party tips I shared on the blog earlier this week, but it’s the reliving of these precious moments in the future that gives me the most happiness. And with a bit of craftiness it is so easy to preserve these memories so that you can enjoy reminiscing time and again. 1. Create holiday jars

Holidays provide the best source of memories. We tend to do things out of the ordinary on holiday – fun activities, enjoying a special meal, or hiking to a beautiful spot – but it’s no good having photos stored on a memory card somewhere. Remembering these moments can help to keep us going when we’re feeling under the weather or sat at our desks while it drizzles outside. “Vacation jars” do just that. They’re so easy to make – all you need is a jar – and the rest of the items you can pick up along the way. Put anything in your jar that reminds you of the last holiday you took, including:

  • Small souvenirs
  • Pine cones or shells (depending on the location you visited!)
  • Pictures (real-life printed photos)
  • Postcards and leaflets
  • Maps and travel tickets

I also made myself a ‘little jar of happy’ which contains anything that has made me happy. If my niece or nephew says something funny I’ll write it down. When I get positive feedback on my work, it goes into the jar. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and it always puts a smile on my face remembering the good times. 2. Family yearbooks

Why not create yearly yearbooks that show some of the year’s best pictures? Over the past year I actually got some photos printed and it was lovely to have ‘real life’ photos in my hands. We are all taking more photos than ever thanks to camera phones but we rarely ever print them out. If you do a little audit of your photo albums every 3 months and send a few to print, you create your own yearbook for the family to look back on, and if you’re happy to do some scrapbooking (one of my favourite things to do) you can add in a few extra bits alongside your photos such as:

  • Event tickets
  • Birthday cards
  • Newspaper clippings

If you’ve got photos and souvenirs to hand, you could even use screen printing to transform t-shirts into wearable collages of your images if you want to make a lasting, wearable memory. Imagine wear a Christmas jumper this year that has photos of the fun you had last Christmas printed on it! Photos also work great as ‘bunting’in your office or the kids’ bedroom – here’s how to make Polaroid bunting at home.

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Tuesday Shoesday – Our his ‘n’ hers walking shoes & a ramble around the castle on the hill

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Hubby and I celebrated a day early because it was a really sunny day yesterday and we wanted to take advantage of the lovely weather and go for a walk. So we bundled up with our coats, scarves and gloves (it might have been sunny, but it was still a little nippy!) and headed out into the Suffolk countryside for a walk.We planned our walk around Framlingham Castle – Ed Sheeran’s ‘castle on the hill’ – so that we could take some photos of the stunning landmark in the winter sunshine. I’d been inspired to enjoy a low-cost day out after reading an article full of ideas for Valentine’s Day on a budget, so a walk (with a packed lunch!) was just the ticket. With it being half term (and a ‘Knights and Princesses’ event taking place inside the castle) it was a busy spot for a Monday morning, but all the other walkers we met were in good spirits. What I didn’t bargain for was just how muddy the paths around the picturesque mere would be. At least it gave us a chance to test out our new walking shoes – this terrain certainly put them through their paces. If my feet could stay comfortable and dry in this environment, then I’m pretty sure that the shoes will stand up to anything we throw at them in the future.

When my husband suggested walking around the castle moat, I was hesitant. I wasn’t planning on going for a paddle! He insisted that it was a ‘dry moat’ (well, I’ve never heard of a dry moat before, have you?!) so we climbed down the stairs and fair enough, it was pretty dry… as far as moats go.Interestingly enough, there were some lovely views from the moat looking up at the walls of the castle. It feels really imposing from below and the blue sky set off the stone castle walls beautifully. Even looking back into the sunshine created some really impressive silhouettes of the ancient walls.

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Festive days out – Christmas at Blackthorpe Barn

This time last week I was preparing to attend the launch of Christmas at Blackthorpe Barn in Suffolk. It was my first Suffolk-based event as a blogger (not much seems to go on around here!) so you can imagine how chuffed I was to be invited to a blogger event that didn’t require travelling to London! I picked out my favourite snowflake jumper and pulled on my cosy suede boots and headed off to Rougham to attend the event, hosted by the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.christmas-shopping-blackthorpe-barn-santas-grotto-festive-days-out-suffolk-19 christmas-shopping-blackthorpe-barn-santas-grotto-festive-days-out-suffolk-14 christmas-shopping-blackthorpe-barn-santas-grotto-festive-days-out-suffolk-21christmas-shopping-blackthorpe-barn-santas-grotto-festive-days-out-suffolk-8We were greeted with plenty of spectacular foliage and decorations in the entrance hall and the glass of champagne went down a treat! With canapés doing the rounds and plenty of lovely folk to chat to, I was in my element. But it was the impending opening of the Christmas barn that I was really excited about. I booked myself onto a tour of the ancient barn and Santa’s grotto as soon as I arrived!

As someone who has visited Blackthorpe Barn as part of the Christmas traditions for many years now, I was almost giddy with excitement to be at the opening event. The Mayor of Bury St Edmunds cut the ribbon to open the event and I’m proud to say that I was one of the first people into the Christmas barn this year. It was lovely to see the barn perfectly decorated without a bauble out of place. No doubt this will all change as customers start buying decorations but it was a delight to behold nonetheless.

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Norman Foster’s Willis Building in Ipswich – 1970s architecture & interiors

Today’s blog post is rather photo-heavy, but I wanted to share some snaps I took while touring Norman Foster’s famous Willis Building. My husband and I went into Ipswich as part of the Heritage Open Weekend and visited half-a-dozen or so historical buildings that are not usually open to the public. Among them was the derelict art deco style Broomhill lido (currently campaigning to be renovated and reopened) and Freston Tower overlooking the Orwell river.willis-building-norman-foster 20150529-willis-building-40y-anniv-02448Only when I got home did I realise that I hadn’t taken any photos outside the building, so here’s a photo of the Willis Building from the Huffington Post and a stunning long-exposure image by photographer Claudia Gannon of the building lit in red lights to celebrate the Ruby anniversary of the building.

Up on the roof and inside the lobby

The most exciting place for me was the Willis Building. I studied architecture and spatial design in college and the utopian movement was my specialism. I’d been bursting to see inside the iconic Willis Building ever since but, as it’s a fully functioning office building, there was no way to get inside. So when I heard that it was opening its shiny glass doors for two days over the Heritage Open Weekend, I charged up my camera and headed along.

The ‘Green Mile’ corridor and first floor office

Having studied the building in the past, I kind of knew what to expect, but I wasn’t prepared for the scale of the building. Blimey, it’s big inside! With space for 1,300 workers I guess it has to be. And it’s exceptionally colourful too. Visitors are greeted with grass green floors and sunshine yellow walls – replicating a sunny day in utopia. Or the colours of Ipswich’s rival football club. I like to think that Norman Foster was creating an indoor/outdoor office design rather than just goading the locals!

Escalators to the top floor and (just for scale) here’s me popping out half way along the ‘Green Mile’

The colours are including in the building’s Grade I listing so cannot be changed, but why would you want to? The fun colours put a big smile on my face as soon as I walked in. Oddly enough, it’s not overpowering to have such a brightly coloured interior. The usual office furniture, dark vertical blinds and shimmering metal ceilings calm things down somewhat. Would I replicate the interior décor at home? Probably not. But it has certainly reignited my love of all things yellow and I will include more bright accent colours next time I decorate.

On top of the Willis Building and the view of Ipswich town centre

The most exciting part of the tour for me was stepping out onto the roof garden. I’d heard all kinds of rumours about the roof garden (including a kind of half-truth that there was a swimming pool up there for employees to use) when I studied the building as a teen but it still didn’t prepare me for the vastness of the roof garden. There’s space for hundreds of office workers to enjoy a picnic lunch up there. It’s enclosed by a neat hedge (more green) and outside the hedge there’s a track which runs around the exterior of the oddly-shaped curved building. By the way, the glass building was designed in such a curvy shape in order to maximise the use of the whole plot of land available for the build.

The manicured roof garden and the track that runs around the building beyond the hedge

I guessed that the track was used for cleaning the windows (perhaps hanging a platform over the edge?) but I couldn’t be sure. We decided to walk around the perimeter and take some photos of the Ipswich skyline while we were there. In fact, if this wasn’t a rail-track it would make a perfectly good running track for jogging workers at break time, though I can’t be sure that Norman Foster had that utopian ideal in his mind when he designed it.norman-foster-utopian-black-glass-willis-building-ipswich-suffolk-yellow-and-green-interior-office-70s-1970s-9norman-foster-utopian-black-glass-willis-building-ipswich-suffolk-yellow-and-green-interior-office-70s-1970s-3 norman-foster-utopian-black-glass-willis-building-ipswich-suffolk-yellow-and-green-interior-office-70s-1970s-15

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Tips for a day out at Ipswich Transport Museum

If you like buses, trams, motor bikes, old trucks and fire engines (or lawnmowers, for that matter) this is the museum for you. It’s packed full of vintage vehicles and, while it looks unassuming from the outside, it’s like a tardis inside. There are plenty of additional display that lead off from the main bus station hanger, and you can even see inside the workshops where restoration projects are ongoing. But it’s not just an interesting history exhibit – there are plenty of interactive displays too. With opportunities to hop aboard retro buses and trams, it’s simply fascinating for the little ones. Plus, they can even have a go on the fire engine! Here are some snaps from my visit to the transport museum and my tips for making a visit.day out ipwich transport museum school holiday trip-8 day out ipwich transport museum school holiday trip-12 day out ipwich transport museum school holiday trip-10day out ipwich transport museum school holiday trip-11Parking – While I didn’t spot a dedicated car park, there’s plenty of parking space available beside the industrial road which runs alongside the museum hangar. And there’s no charge to park.

Food and drink – The Sunbeam Tea Rooms offers food and drink at reasonable prices, or you could take a picnic to enjoy on the grassed area outside the front of the museum. We popped in and out of the museum all day long, so readmission is possible.

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My summer so far…

It’s only half way through the school holidays and I’ve already been having a wonderful summer break. I’ve been on a few day trips, I’ve visited a handful of places and got a few of my “to-do’s” done. If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, here’s the goss…summer holiday sunset beach huts seaside-2I went to the seaside. During the very first weekend of the summer holidays I organised to go away from Friday – Monday. It isn’t a long drive from here to the Essex coast, but it was a very hot one! We arrived for our yearly family holiday at around 9am and headed straight to the beach hut. We pretty much spent the rest of the day on the beach, throwing a giant frisbee that I’d bought ‘for the kids’ and tucking into traditional fish ‘n’ chips. The heat dictated plenty of trips to the swimming pool and lots of breezy walks along the promenade to cool off. We enjoyed a game of bowling on Saturday evening, and the bowl ‘n’ burger deal on the pier is always a winner – the burgers are huge! Sunday was a chilled out beach day and on Monday we visited the nearest ‘big’ town for more arcade fun and a trip to the Sealife Centre. A wonderful weekend.

I visited a museum. Ipswich Transport Museum to be precise. I’d never been before, despite growing up in Suffolk from the age of ten. It was a real surprise to find so many interesting exhibits in an unassuming old bus hangar. I’ll share more photos in a ‘proper’ blog post about the museum soon and give you my tips for visiting during the school hols. Another lovely day out with the family that didn’t cost a fortune, bonus!

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Glamping inspiration – My dream bell tent

If you have to go camping, it might as well be in one of these. I hereby admit that I am a bell tent fan. I feel like I’ve been spotting them everywhere I go and it’s only making me covet them more and more. Yes, glamping is certainly a holiday I can get on-board with, if it’s in one of these canvas beauties. bell tent camping glamping vintage 2Hertz glamping at Blogstock 2014-2bell tents latitude circus tent canvas marquee teepee tipi colourful-2I’ve only stayed in a bell tent once, for a couple of nights at Blogstock, (check out my Blogstock pics here) but it was one of the best camping experiences I’ve ever had. The extra height meant that my husband could stand up without any problems, and I didn’t have to crawl in and out of the tent doorway. There was plenty of room for all our stuff (we don’t really travel light, I blame our car with it’s giant boot for that) and it could even fit a double bed in too, so you can imagine how comfortable we were.

And when it rained, our canvas tent remained pleasingly dry. There was no chance of accidentally bumping the canvas and causing moisture seepage like in a traditional tent; the sides were so far away from us! We could simply lie back and watch the rain pitter-patter down outside out tent, feeling super-cosy tucked under a blanket with a carpeted floor beneath our feet.

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Tips for a healthy summer holiday with the family

How are you enjoying the school summer holidays so far? We’ve already enjoyed a few days of sunshine and got stuck into our favourite outdoor activities, such as swimming, walking and going on bike rides. I think that the school holidays is a great time of year for the whole family to make a change towards living a more healthy lifestyle. It’s easier to feel motivated to get outside and be active while the weather is lovely. It’s also a good opportunity to introduce the kids to the idea of eating more healthily too, with plenty of salads, pasta and couscous on the menu during BBQ season!homemade summer coleslaw panasonic food processor bbq dish-18

Check out my healthy coleslaw recipe on the blog – no mayo in this dish!

With that in mind, I wanted to share something with all you mums and dads out there, to help you with some fun ideas for the school holidays that will also help your family to live a more healthy life. As part of National Childhood Obesity Week, which rans from 4th July 2016, NRS Healthcare launched a digital Healthy Living Family Pack to help families with children who may be experiencing issues with overeating, inactivity or poor nutrition and it contains useful ideas on how families can pull together to become more active in their daily lives.day out wild flower walk spring-2

A wildflower hunt is a free activity that gets the kids moving – read about my recent countryside walk here

What does the Healthy Living Family Pack include?

The digital Family Pack is available to download for free from the NRS website and the pack contains useful information and ideas for parents, coupled with an interactive star chart for children to track their activities in a fun, informal way. Families can learn more about childhood obesity and how to actively approach the subject through the pack contents, which include:

  • Family Activity Cards
  • A Family Day Out Wish List
  • Daily Chores Calorie Counter (for parents)
  • A Chore Chooser Star Chart (for children)blue suede shoes - his n hers brogues_-4

Find ideas for low-cost and fun days out for the school holiday on my blog – here

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4 low-cost rainy day activities for the summer holidays

After waiting all year for the summer holidays to arrive, it’s unfortunate when the weather forecast looks gloomy. Even though we’ve been having lovely sunny days here recently, it’s almost inevitable that a couple of days will be drizzly during the long summer break. So what can you do with the kids when they’re stuck inside on grey days? I’ve come up with a couple of ideas to keep little ones entertained but that don’t cost a fortune.Easy recipe for baking cheese, fruit and cherry scones

Cooking

I love to bake with my niece and nephew and try to do it as often as I can. It’s so lovely to watch them get stuck into stirring up a recipe and see the concentration on their faces as they follow the recipe instructions. Add the ingredients to your weekly shopping in the run up to the summer holidays and you could have everything you need in the cupboard, ready for a rainy day. You can mix up a simple can’t-go-wrong recipe for milk loaf with the kids in the morning, and they can turn it into sandwiches by lunchtime. Baking scones or cornflake cakes during the afternoon guarantees a calm tea-time as they sit down to enjoy the treats they made.

Build a den

Remember how much fun it was to build a den when you were little? It costs nothing to make – you just need some sheets, pegs and bits of furniture. Use a drying rack to prop up blankets as a roof, and throw duvets and cushions on the floor for comfort. And when your den is complete, take some snacks and treats (perhaps something they’ve baked themselves) inside it to enjoy an indoor picnic, or get out the colouring books.rainy day activity summer holidays scrapbook craft

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My photos from Latitude Festival 2016

Just wanted to share a quick blog post today with some of the photos I took at this year’s Latitude Festival.latitude festival 2016 summer fest suffolk_-12 latitude festival 2016 summer fest suffolk_-11 latitude festival 2016 summer fest suffolk_-2Some of my personal highlights included watching a breath-taking performance by festival novice Jane Horrocks in the Film & Music arena, and sitting in on the Standard Issue Magazine discussion in the Literature tent, where one of my favourite actresses Helen Monks was on the panel.

As you probably know, I only really go to Latitude festival for the comedy, art and theatre performances so it was great to watch some fantastic performers that I’ve never seen live before, including David O’Doherty (who had me screaming with laughter as soon as he started to play his tiny keyboard, and who I later bumped into and snapped a selfie!) and the MC for the comedy tent David Morgan. The Toy Story trilogy acted out by the Comedians Cinema Club was a surprisingly fun way to spend the afternoon.

Last year’s MC Nish Kumar performed again this year, and I chuckled my way through Mark Watson’s lunchtime set. We decided not to watch the standing-room-only performance by Bill Bailey and went to check out Jane Horrocks’ festival debut with the If You Kiss Me Kiss Me Band. Luckily we got there early and ended up with a front row spot as the tent quickly filled to bursting point. I’m certain that Jane’s performance will go down in Latitude history as one of the best festival music sets ever. What a legend. latitude festival 2016 summer fest suffolk_-16 latitude festival 2016 summer fest suffolk_-4 latitude festival 2016 summer fest suffolk_Food was great, the sun was out, I drank lots of milkshakes and brought home the traditional Latitude cup, so all in all it was a good year at the Suffolk-based festival.

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