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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AMAZING news – my blog won the award for Best Homes & Interiors Blog 2017

I’m SO excited to tell you the wonderful news that my thrifty little lifestyle blog has just been announced as the winner of the Best Homes and Interiors Blogger Award 2017!! I still can’t really believe it and I’m grinning like the cheshire cat right now!The news has just been shared by the award sponsor Tile Trader and it’s already made the headlines on the East Anglian Daily Times website – here’s a screen shot and link to the article if you’d like to have a read.Thank you all for voting for my blog in the competition, I really appreciate you taking the time to support me and it’s all for a fantastic cause – the prize is a donation of £200 to a homelessness charity in the winner’s local area. I’m delighted to be able to use my little blog to boost the funds of a brand new support service in Suffolk “The Bus Shelter”.

Beautiful photo of the bus renovation project by Jane Gould, image from The Bus Shelter Facebook page

The charity is currently renovating a donated double-decker bus to turn it into a safe space for rough sleepers to stay. But ‘sleep is just the beginning’ (the charity’s motto) as the bus will also offer advice, cooking and washing facilities, and ongoing support. It’s a truly inspirational charity and the project is in progress right now so please get involved if you can – all donations really do make a difference and will help to get The Bus Shelter on the road sooner. You can read more and donate on their Facebook page here.

Thank you all once again for voting for my blog – it’s made a huge difference to a local charity as well as made me indescribably happy! I’m super excited  that I also receive a commemorative plaque for the award to put on the mantlepiece woo, can’t wait for that to arrive in the post – I’ll be sure to share a photo of it on Instagram @cassiefairy when it’s delivered. Thank you for continuing to support me and helping to put Suffolk blogs on the map in this national award competition 🙂


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Pieday Friday – The Hairy Bikers’ coffee cake for Red Nose Day

Today’s recipe post comes directly from The Hairy Bikers, who have shared this recipe in aid of Comic Relief. The fundraising spectacular takes place on 24th March this year so you’ve got plenty of time to perfect your sponge cake before the big event! Without further ado I’m handing over to Si and Dave  to share their recipe – enjoy!
A deliciously moist, old-fashioned coffee and walnut cake is one of our very favourite treats and we like to make it with Camp chicory and coffee essence. If you can’t track this down in your local stores, use very strong black coffee instead. Make sure the walnuts you use are nice and fresh.

SERVES 12 – 65g walnut halves, 225g softened butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing, 225g caster sugar, 4 medium eggs, 225g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp Camp chicory and coffee essence

Icing – 150g softened butter, cubed, 300g icing sugar, sifted, 4 tsp Camp chicory and coffee essence,12 walnut halves

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.

  1. Butter two 20cm loose-based sandwich tins and line the bases with discs of baking parchment. Put the walnut halves in a food processor and blitz them into fairly fine crumbs, but don’t worry if there are a few larger pieces remaining. Tip the walnuts into a bowl.
  2. Put the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and coffee essence in a food processor and blend on the pulse setting until well combined and creamy. You may need to remove the lid once or twice and push the mixture down with a rubber spatula. Take care not to process for too long or you will end up with a heavy sponge.
  3. Add the blitzed walnuts to the batter and mix until just combined. If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop the nuts, tip all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, then beat like hell!
  4. Spoon the mixture evenly into the greased and lined tins and smooth the surface. Bake on the same shelf in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes or until the sponge is well risen and just beginning to shrink back from the sides of the tin.
  5. Remove the tins from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the cakes and turning them out onto a wire rack. Peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool completely.

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Have you got your festive knit ready for Christmas Jumper Day?

I know I have. Well, every day in December is Christmas jumper day for me… but I’m talking about the official Christmas Jumper Day with a capital C, J and D. This year, Save the Children’s annual Christmas Jumper Day is taking place on Friday 16th December. Silliness will be sweeping the nation as schools, homes and offices across the country will be ditching their day-to-day dress for colourful, garish, crazy knitted jumpers instead.crazy for christmas jumpersI’ve got my pink polka dot squirrel jumper (with sparkly sequinned acorn and fluffy furry tail) at the ready to wear on the big day. And the best bit is that all this silliness has a serious purpose – by sticking on a daft sweater and donating £2 to Save the Children through christmasjumperday.org you’ll be saving children’s lives and giving them a brighter future.DIY christmas jumper festive snowman-12

Here’s my step-by-step guide to DIYing your own snowman jumper

And that’s not the only way you can help. If you’ve finished with your festive jumper from last year why not take it to your nearest Save the Children store where unwanted Christmas jumpers will be resold (raising more funds for the charity) so that others can join in the festive fun on Christmas Jumper Day this year. You could also pick up an even sillier sweater at the same time to keep an eye out in stores this week.crazy for christmas jumpers-2All the money raised through woolly-wearing will help give a child living in a refugee camp clothes to keep them warm through winter, or set up a safe space to give them the chance to be children again. It could also help bring essentials like healthcare, education, protection and food to the millions of children around the world who are missing out on the most basic support. All this, just by wearing a daft jumper – it’s a very silly way to solve some very serious problems!christmas jumper DIY pompoms before and after

Here’s my DIY pom-pom Christmas cardi project blog post

I hope you’ll join in with all the fun on Friday 16th and hop onto the christmasjumperday.org website to donate. Happy Christmas Jumper Day all!


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A pile of poo and a goat – festive gifts that help others

I’m not even going to say the ‘C’ word yet but I know that many of you are already planning – and buying – your seasonal gifts. In fact, I’m heading out to the high street tomorrow to gather some stocking fillers myself so I know that (if you’re at all like me) you’re already making a shopping list. And possibly checking it twice. Which is why I wanted to jump in feet first today with an idea for what to get ‘the person who has everything’.

Photo credit: Oxfam GB

My answer is; nothing. I’m not being rude, but what I tend to find these days is that everyone gets whatever they want for themselves all year round, so they don’t really need anything in particular. On top of this, we’ve all got limited space in our homes. I know how sad it makes me to receive a big generous gift when I don’t have anywhere to put it. I’m not ungrateful, I love the present, but I have like, literally nowhere to keep it. I have to store so many things ‘for later’ because I just don’t have the room at the moment.

So my solution is a simple one; buy something for someone else instead. I’m talking about charity gifts and, as an Oxfam blogger, I wanted to share details of their festive packages in case you’re already looking for a secret santa present for someone who already has plenty of everything. There are lots of Oxfam charity gift ideas on the website (starting at just £5) but I’m just going to mention my top two today – a pile of poo and a goat.

Photo credit: Oxfam GB

Imagine giving someone a pile of poo for Christmas – it would be the talk of the office as a secret santa gift, wouldn’t it?! I love the tongue-in-cheek nature of the gift, but it’s a whole lot more helpful than the name makes out. The gift is a 100% natural mix of manure and organic fertilizer so that someone can grow their own vegetables and feed their family. It also includes training on how to plant crops so that they are more successful in growing food. This means that the family will have a more varied diet, their health will improve with regular meals and they can sell any excess produce to raise money for other things, such as sending their children to school. Amazing what a pile of poo can do, isn’t it?

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Primark hack – How to customise a top with pom-poms & splits

Today’s blog post is a super-fast DIY project to add a little personality to an off-the-peg high street top. Yes, I’m doing a Primark hack, and I don’t care who knows it! It’s such a quick project that I did it just half an hour before heading out to a party wearing the top. AND I had time to photograph it for you..! Now, that’s quick, eh? Read on to find out how I added a little pizzazz (or should I say pom-poms?) to my new cotton top.before-and-after-primark-high-street-hack-top-makeover-pompoms-diy-sewing-customising-I picked up this heart print top from Primark for £6 only a couple of weeks ago. It’s one of those oversize tops in breezy cotton so it’s great on hot days, plus it’ll look fab under a cardi for winter too, so I couldn’t resist it. This same top is also available in floral prints, geometric patterns and plenty of different colours, so have a look next time you’re in Primark and grab a couple to play around with at home. I bought the top in a too-small size 8. This is because I didn’t want the top to be ‘too’ blousey and wanted it to sit better on my shoulders. I know that the design is supposed to be oversize, but I preferred how the size 8 fit me and I wanted to add some on-trend side-splits so it didn’t matter if it was a little tight over the hips.high-street-hack-top-makeover-pompoms-diy-sewing-customising-primark-hearts-3While I was out shopping, I also picked up some mini pom-pom trim from the haberdashery. I got 1.5m just in case, but actually 1 metre was more than enough. This cost me £1.65 in total for the trim, and some other colours were even lower in price so I might pop back for a bright yellow soon! I was very excited to turn a standard high street top into something a little more unique so I hurried home to start sewing. Adding splits and pom-poms works well on any cotton or lightweight top, because you don’t have to worry about the stretch of the fabric. Here’s how to do this make-it-your-own project…high-street-hack-top-makeover-pompoms-diy-sewing-customising-primark-hearts-5Step 1. Put on the top and decide where you would like the side splits to come up to. Mark it with a pin, then fold in half down the centre to check that the splits go up to the same point on both sides.

Step 2. Carefully unpick the seam up to this point. I was rather impatient and cut straight through the fabric but if you unpick it, you’ll have a seam allowance on each side which makes turning back a hem easier!

Step 3. Turn the raw edges of the split under and pin in place before stitching with matching thread. Repeat on the other side.high-street-hack-top-makeover-pompoms-diy-sewing-customising-primark-hearts-6high-street-hack-top-makeover-pompoms-diy-sewing-customising-primark-hearts-7

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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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What’s in my cruelty-free make-up bag?

Earlier this year I made the switch over to living a cruelty-free life. I’ve been gradually replacing all my products with their non-animal-tested counterparts over recent months and I’ve finally got to the stage where my make-up bag is entirely cruelty-free. I didn’t want to waste the products that I’d bought previously so I’ve been using them up as usual and when they run out I’ve been searching for the non-animal-tested version to replace them. It’s a simple way to make a big difference without any waste (and without having to spend out on everything all at once) so I’d recommend a gradual change-over if you’re considering going cruelty-free. cruelty free make up beauty brands cosmetics makeup animal testing_-6I’m including haircare, skincare, cosmetics, homewares, cleaning products and even food in my cruelty-free life so there will be plenty more blog posts to come as I make the switch to non-tested brands. I thought it might be an expensive choice to go cruelty-free but I was wrong – most of the products I’ve bought have been the same price as those I was already using and, in many cases, it’s even been cheaper to buy the non-tested version. That’s money in my pocket AND happy bunnies – I’m delighted! Today I’d like to share the contents of my cruelty-free make-up bag with you and let you know what I’ve found to replace my old favourite cosmetics.cruelty free make up beauty brands cosmetics makeup animal testing_-3Foundation

Foundation is sometimes a tricky one for me, as I have very pale skin. I’m probably the palest person I know, so I find even the lightest shades are sometimes too dark for me. I’ve therefore been mixing up my own shade of mineral foundation for years. There are some great natural and organic mineral foundations available from cruelty-free brands and it’s a product that the cruelty-free market does well. However, sometimes loose mineral foundation can be very drying on my skin and I wanted to try a liquid foundation for the first time in ages. I picked up the GOSH X-Ceptional Wear Foundation foundation in shade ’12 natural’ along with the GOSH 007 stipple brush to apply it. I was surprised when I didn’t need the lightest shade in this foundation. Even though ‘porcelain’ might be better for me in winter months, the best match for me was the second lightest shade, which blends into my jawline really well. It’s also a great medium coverage and you can add layers to build it up if needed. It claims to be ‘light-reflecting’, and while it’s not particularly ‘dewy’, it’s certainly not entirely matt. In fact, it’s exactly the type of ‘natural skin’ foundation that I’ve been searching for all these years so I doubt I’ll ever use anything else!cruelty free make up beauty brands cosmetics makeup animal testing_-2Blusher

Ooh now we’re on to one of my favourite cruelty-free brands; Freedom. The quality is great, the packaging is cute and the prices are very reasonable. The only trouble with this brand is that it’s hard to find on the high street. Even though it’s stocked on the Superdrug website, none of my 4 nearest Superdrug stores stock it on their shelves. That said, it’s well worth ordering online and click ‘n’ collecting in store. I did this when I ordered Freedom Pro Glow Pink Cat. This blusher may look like a scary neon pink leopard but it’s actually a gorgeous combination of pinks and peaches that swirl together to make the ideal blusher for my skintone. It’s also available in bronzer and highlighter tones too and is only £3.50. Again, I don’t know why I’d ever need to buy any other blusher now that I’ve tried this one! I like the look of Freedom’s eyebrow palette too but it’s hard to know what colour you’re ordering online, so I’d rather search out the collection in a shop and check it out ‘in real life’.cruelty free make up beauty brands cosmetics makeup animal testing_Eye shadow

My new day-to-day eyeshadow is this mini palette from Marks and Spencer. I picked up the Autograph Colour Luxe Duo Eyeshadow in shade ‘Pink Shell’ last time I was in M&S, knowing that all the Marks and Spencer own-brand make-up collection is cruelty-free. It even has the leaping bunny logo on the back of the packaging. This cute compact has a mirror in the lid for easy application, and I’ve used it every single day since I bought it. Again these colours are just right for me – a pale highlighter for the brow-bone and inner corners of my eyes, and a heathery colour for the lids.  It’s just shimmery enough to stop it being matt but not so sparkly that it looks like glitter! This duo comes in a range of colours and I think that the chocolate brown shade is next on my list. I had a left over gift voucher from Christmas to put towards this product but I think it’s still good value at £8.50 (despite being more than I usually spend on eyeshadow), because it is highly pigmented so you only need a small quantity each day. I’ve been using it daily for a couple of months and I’ve hardly made a dent in it.cruelty free make up beauty brands cosmetics makeup animal testing_-4 Continue reading “What’s in my cruelty-free make-up bag?” »


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A spring cleaning surprise (& a cruelty-free gift!)

You may have already done the big spring clean in your own home, but what about your relatives? In particular, I’m thinking about your grandparents, parents, uncles and great aunts who may be less able to give their own home a thorough clean this year. When I heard about the #RiseToTheChallenge campaign on social media it really made me think – why not give a little something back to our relatives by helping them out with a mini-makeover? I packed up my dusters and headed straight out this weekend to see what cleaning up I could do for my family.

I wanted my little clean-up to be a surprise so I headed to the shops on Saturday morning before heading to mums to surprise her in the afternoon. I headed to Savers, The Range, Poundland, Superdrug and Sainburys to stock up on plenty of cruelty-free cleaning products and bagged them up as a treat for my mum. She’d recently expressed an interest in my cruelty-free quest and wanted to make the switch over to non-animal-tested products herself. As I’ve mentioned before, chucking out all your old products and replacing them with a whole new cupboard of cruelty-free alternatives just isn’t feasible – it’s wasteful and costs a lot. It’s better to replace each product as it runs out and make the change gradually.

Well, I wanted to give mum a head start (I’m just so pleased she wanted to get involved) and I wanted to take on the #RiseToTheChallenge project and spruce-up her home. Rather than taking all my own cruelty-free household products over to mums (I’ll blog about all my favourite cruelty-free cleaning brands soon, so watch this space!) I decided to pick up a few bottles and give them to mum as a treat, along with a thorough clean-up of her living room. If you’re interested, here are the CF cleaning products I found: Astonish (all around £1 – £1.99), Sainsburys (from just 40p for bleach!), Cussons (£1 for a huge washing up liquid) and Original Source handwash from Poundland. Just goes to show that being kind to animals doesn’t have to cost more – in fact, I’m pretty sure everything I bought costs much less than the branded version.cruelty free cleaning products animal testing CFcruelty free cleaning products animal testing CF spring clean wood floor astonish

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Decluttering my wardrobe by Swopping with Oxfam

A new campaign by Oxfam has just launched today and I’ve already been rummaging around in my wardrobe this morning in order to help raise money for Oxfam. The ask is so simple and I hope you can join me in supporting such a great cause. From 6th June Oxfam is asking the nation to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Marie Kondo by decluttering their wardrobes and donating any clothes not worn in a year to the charity’s Shwopping campaign.

Oxfam will then resell your unwanted clothes and the money raised will make a real difference to those who need it the most and help to end extreme poverty for good. I’m actually really pleased with efforts this morning – I was clearing out my wardrobe at 7am (enthusiastic, eh?!) and had taken some snaps of the process by 8am (see below!). And by 9am I was tapping away at my computer, writing this blog post! I really wanted to share the campaign with you today – the day it launched – because I’m hoping my photos will inspire you to do the same when you get home from work or college later today. At the very least I’ve got a tidy wardrobe now, thanks to Oxfam!

We all have clothes laying in the back of our wardrobes that we never wear and whilst we aren’t wearing them, someone else could be loving them again and, in turn, help Oxfam’s Water, Women and Work campaign for the most vulnerable people across the globe. Donated clothes will be resold in Oxfam shops on the high street, or on the Oxfam fashion website or in Oxfam festival shops. Clothes that can’t be resold will be reused in Frip Ethique, Oxfam’s social enterprise scheme in Senegal or in other countries around the world. And any clothes they can’t resell or reuse are sold in bulk to reprocessing companies to be reborn as mattress filling or carpet underlay. Whatever you donate will be used in the best possible way to raise much-needed funds for the charity.

You can donate clothes to Oxfam shops or take them into M&S stores and pop your unwanted clothes into their Shwopping boxes before you buy something new! You can actually collect ‘Sparks’ points when you Shwop at M&S if you show your donations at the till before you put them in the box, and if you donate a M&S item at an Oxfam shop, they will give you a discount vouncher for your next purchase at M&S – bonus! There are still approximately 114,000 garments thrown away in the UK every hour (can you believe it?!) so taking them to M&S or Oxfam is a much better use of these unwanted clothes than putting them into landfill. Both options are extremely convenient ways to donate to a great cause and will help Oxfam’s “ultimate goal” of recycling as many clothes as M&S sells – that’s hundreds of millions of clothes each year! Just imagine how much money could be raised for the charity even if you only dropped off one thing before buying something new. I really like the idea of a ‘one in, one out’ policy for my wardrobe in order to keep it tidy from now on.

Please do let me know if you do get involved in this campaign and ‘Shwop’ something of your own by leaving me a comment below. And if you’d like to join in the campaign on Twitter, please use the hashtag #WardrobeShwop in your tweets – why not share a photo of your newly decluttered wardrobe too?! Thanks for supporting this great campaign and if you get a chance please check out my author profile on the Oxfam fashion website where I share lots of thrifty DIY projects as a voluntary blog writer!


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Wear your support with Fashion Targets Breast Cancer

Can you believe that Fashion Targets Breast Cancer has already been running for 20 years?! I remember being a teenager when this ground-breaking campaign first launched – where have those years gone? Nonetheless the 2016 campaign has launched and is celebrating 20 years as the nation’s most powerful fashion movement.fashion targets breast cancer 2016 charity campaign breast cancer now bracelets-2Running until the end of May, the campaign calls on British shoppers to buy something stylish from their 2016 fashion collection. Your support raises important funds for Breast Cancer Now’s vital research into breast cancer so what better excuse do you need to do a spot of shopping this month? fashion targets breast cancer 2016 charity campaign breast cancer now bracelets-3The exclusive fashion collection is available at some of the high-street’s best loved retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, River Island, Topshop, Laura Ashley, Simply Be, Hush, The Fold, SVP and Blow Ltd. Over the past two decades shoppers have raised over £14 million to fund pioneering breast cancer research simply by shopping! Whether you’re investing in a whole new wardrobe or buying a piece of jewellery to show your support (such as my gorgeous bracelets from River Island), you can make your money really count by choosing items from the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer collection. Just check out fashiontargetsbreastcancer.org.uk/lookbook where you can browse through the collection. Here are just a few of my favourites:

image001The collection celebrates the best fashion moments from the past decades and includes some ‘throwback’ styles (I thought this was worth a mention, seeing as it’s Thowback Thursday today!) such as spaghetti strap tops, bodies and cropped tees, which remind me of the 90s when the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign first launched. But it’s not all ‘gimmicky’ fashion – there are plenty of casual staples, glamourous knock-out pieces and plenty of inspiration for Spring/Summer outfits. Most importantly, every single item guarantees a minimum 30% donation to Breast Cancer Now. Prices start at a thrifty £2 (again, my bracelets are a good example of this) so it’s easy to ‘Wear Your Support’ no matter what your shopping budget is. fashion targets breast cancer 2016 charity campaign breast cancer now bracelets-4fashion targets breast cancer 2016 charity campaign breast cancer now bracelets-6Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity. They have already made incredible advances to combat the disease, and today more women beat breast cancer than ever before. Every penny donated to the Breast Cancer Now goes towards reaching the target that, by 2050, no woman will die from breast cancer. I am delighted to be working with them to tell you all about this thoroughly worthwhile campaign. I’d love you all to head out to the shops this weekend and treat yourself to something new from the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer collection – just one purchase could make all the difference. Thanks for reading guys, and let me know if you buy something from the range by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me @cassiefairy. fashion targets breast cancer 2016 charity campaign breast cancer now bracelets-5

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