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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Books, books, books – What I got for Christmas & first impressions

I guess I was quite adamant when I said I only wanted books for Christmas, huh? Because that’s what I got – and piles of ’em! So you can imagine how thrilled I am to start the new year with a stack of books to read and plenty of reviews to bring you throughout 2017. I’m just about to finish reading Dave Gorman Versus The Rest of The World so I’m excited to dive straight into these new books. Here’s what I received and my first impressions:book review 2016 2017 books tim peake amy schumer caitlin moran gretchen rubin-3Caitlin Moran – Moranifesto

I’ve read most of Moran’s books and this one has been on my wishlist since it was published in March 2016. I didn’t buy it straight away though because I find hardbacks more cumbersome to read and I was waiting for the paperback version to come out. How long would I have to wait? While I was browsing a book store in Ely in November I found this signed first edition and pointed it out to hubby. Thankfully he took the hint and managed to snaffle it for me without me knowing! Can’t wait to get started on this one.book review 2016 2017 books tim peake amy schumer caitlin moran gretchen rubin-9Tim Peake – Hello, is this planet Earth?

As someone who followed Tim Peake’s mission religiously (and was giddy with excitement when I met him only a couple of days after he returned to the UK) you can imagine how excited I was to unwrap this book. It’s a chunky square book full of beautiful photographs taken by Tim during his time on the international space station. The cover is a shiny hardback (which I think looks a little bit cheap or unofficial) but when you open the pages, it’s full of stunning photos alongside Tim’s own words about the images and locations. I’d actually recommended this book to mum as a suitable present for my husband, but it was actually him who bought it for me. Good thing we didn’t all buy it for each other!book review 2016 2017 books tim peake amy schumer caitlin moran gretchen rubin-7

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Personal development – Which career is right for you?

It’s all about careers on the blog this week – did you spot my article last weekend all about learning as you earn?? I think it’s the whole ‘back-to-school’ feeling I get in September that makes me want to think about jobs, studying, careers and personal development. So today we’re finding out how you can tell if a job is right for you and whether or not you should pursue it as a future career. personal-development-career-quiz-dream-job-girlboss-inspirationFinding the right career is always a challenge, unless you make a clear plan to help you achieve your goals. It is important to find out what job will make you happy as well as successful. It is also helpful to know what types of jobs will match your skills and what is best suited for you. You can take tests to find this out or use a job search engine such as Jobrapido to help you in your job search and give you some ideas of jobs you might never have known existed!

One important thing to remember is that although your career is a set of plans and ideas, it’s not realistic to think of it as a linear path. Often we feel like we need to find our dream career straight away but most of the time different jobs will take us to our dream career. display-272270

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Personal development – Learn as you earn

Are you currently working in a job you enjoy? Perhaps you’re an intern, or are working on a gap year, or just starting out in a new full-time role. Maybe you’ve already bagged your dream job and the only way is up? No matter what stage in your career, if you want to continue to work in your sector and develop new skills in order to progress up there is something you can do right now to become more talented at your current role. It’ll help you become a valued employee in the organisation you’re working for, earn you a pay rise and make you more employable in the future. What is it? Learning as you work.learn as you earn personal development career skillsThey say that there’s no longer a ‘job for life’, and that is partially true. Compared to our grandparents’ generation, who may have had the same role in the same factory for 50 years, it’s unlikely that this is how our working lives will pan out. But there IS such a thing as a career for life. And yes, there is difference! It’s about finding the job that makes you feel like you’re not really working because you enjoy it so much (for me, that’s writing) and sticking with that career for your whole life. You can change companies, work freelance, do work on different projects and collaborate with various people but, essentially, everything you do is linked to your ‘career’. When you start to see it like that, you can identify ways to learn from every experience you have.

Think of it this way, your CV is a work in progress. Okay, usually we only write a CV at the start of our working lives, once the education part is out of the way. We might update it with work experience when we look for a new job, but it rarely gets much attention other than that. I personally like to update my CV every year. Even though I work freelance and never really apply for jobs, it’s still a great way to keep track of the skills I’ve learnt from the projects I’ve worked on throughout the year. And the getting the most out of every project is the key point – learn as you work and you’ll add more and more value to your ‘offer’ as an employee.skills to learn career development personal knowledge

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5 Reasons why sunset is the best time of day

Blazing red sunsets, rainbow skies, dark silhouettes and pastel hues. All of these beautiful elements combine to make one of the most stunning features of the evening sky – the sunset. If you’ve never watched the sun setting over rolling countryside, perhaps this summer is the time to do it. It’s a really special moment when you spot an unexpected sunset, and it’s even more of an adventure to go out looking for a sunset and trying to capture it in a photograph. But it’s not just the gorgeous colours and inspirational scene that makes sunsets so special. Oh and for the purpose of this blog post I’ve not edited any of these sunset photos, I think natural is already beautiful enough! Read on to find out many more reasons why sunset is the best time of day.photography sunset golden hour photo sun silhouette photography sunset golden hour photo sun silhouette-3The cool down. After a scorching hot day – you know the type, where you have to shelter in the shade just to survive – the sunset comes as a relief. The warmth of the day is still in the air, so you can still wear your daytime dress, but the air cools down to that perfect ‘summer evening’ temperature. The setting sun is still on your face, but you don’t feel like you’re being burnt to a crisp. Seeing as I’m someone who easily burns, this is probably one of the main reasons why I like sunset so much – I can finally venture outside!photography sunset golden hour photo sun silhouette-13 photography sunset golden hour photo sun silhouette-7Photography. Perhaps the most obvious reason that sunset is a great time of day is simply taking photos of it. The stunning colours and clear cloud formations make it much more easy to capture a sunset than a sunrise, or even a daytime sky. At other times of day, you can end up with too much light infiltrating your frame, so images are less clear and colours less vivid. With a sunset, there’s plenty of interesting features (such as silhouettes of rooftops and trees) you can capture against the sky, as well as bright deep colours that show up better on camera than watery daytime tones.photography sunset golden hour photo sun silhouette-4photography sunset golden hour photo sun silhouette-12Lights twinkle. Continue reading “5 Reasons why sunset is the best time of day” »


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Top 5 inspirational Instagrammers

Here’s a helpful guest post by Victoria from Apartment Number 4, while I’m taking a little break. I hope this’ll help you to discover some new accounts to follow on Instagram and provide an endless source of photographic inspiration. And don’t forget to follow Victoria’s gorgeous Instagram account too @victoria_aptno4 – Enjoy!victoria apartment number 4 instagram feed inspirational bloggerAlthough it’s still a toss-up between Pinterest and Instagram as my favourite social media tool to use, I definitely think Insta’s becoming a daily source of inspiration for me. From gorgeous interiors, to the perfect mirror selfie, there are so many ‘grammers killing it right now with their themed feeds. Today I wanted to share five stylish women who inspire me with their perfectly shot Insta’ feeds. Pictured below is pastel beauty Alyssa Garrison of Random Acts of Pastel. Without being massively “girly” in day-to-day life, I’m still a huge fan of anything pink, especially in interiors. This Instagrammer manages to capture those bright candy moments perfectly. I need those lip prints along her staircase! Every time I see a Random Act of Pastel picture, it always manages to brighten my morning up. You can follow Alyssa over at @RandomActsOfPastel.instagrammers inspirational photosI know some people have strong views about Instagram losing it’s original feel of “shot this with my phone and uploaded it within 30 seconds” reality, but I’m all about aesthetics so couldn’t care less if someone is just showing me the best part of their life. I do exactly the same. Why would I show my bin overflowing and the crap beans and toast I had for dinner? I want to show the pretty mint lamp I just bought, styled perfectly in a place where it’s actually not going to stay because it’s not practical in real life! instagram inspirational photography

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Thrifty Wedding Inspiration – Homemade cake buffet

Wedding food can take up a hefty chunk of any wedding budget, so it’s important to consider plenty of different options when you decide how to cater for your guests. After lots of research (on Pinterest, naturally) I began to think that dessert + after-dinner truffles + wedding cake + tuckshop + ice cream cart might be a little bit overkill for the average wedding. Sure, these are all really lovely parts of the wedding reception and if you’re known for your undying love of ice-cream then go for it! But if you’re on a budget, it’s not a problem to play around with the wedding breakfast format a little and same some money at the same time.L&A-LowRes-539After checking out these images of fabulous dessert buffet tables I learned that IS possible to cut back on some of the food at your wedding without disappointing anyone. To be honest, a slice of cake at the end of the night won’t really be missed, and serving up your wedding cake instead of a dessert is a perfectly acceptable money-saving option too. Why not ask guests to compete in a ‘bake off’ and bring a cake that they have baked at home. This would fit in perfectly with a village fete themed wedding and allows guests to be a part of the event. All you’d need is some serving plates and a big rosette for the ‘winner’ of the bake off. And I’m sure all the guests would all enjoy tucking into the huge variety of cakes that end up on the bake off table.L&A-LowRes-538 L&A-LowRes-540Laura from no-nonsense wedding blog Devine Bride says; “We tried to be creative with our wedding to make it more unique to us, but also to try to save some pennies along the way. My sister is a bit of a foodie and ended up having two wedding cakes at her wedding, however everyone had such a good time that that they forgot all about the cakes and we were still eating them for 3 weeks afterwards! We decided to reabsorb our wedding cake budget, removed our dessert course from our menu, and asked all of our local friends to bake us a cake instead of bringing us a present. We ended up with a massive Pudding Garden dessert buffet! It was a massive hit with our guests and it meant so much to us that our friends had contributed to our day.”L&A-LowRes-254 L&A-LowRes-543I think that these buffet tables all look so inviting, and the variety of cakes that guests could bring to your wedding is unlimited. I would personally love to be asked to bake a dessert, and would hand over my cupcakes with pride! I also think that guests would be more happy to tuck in when there’s a cake buffet on offer, as nothing is too precious to slice up (unlike a traditional wedding cake). Of course, if you want to ‘cut the cake’ you could always stack up a number of Victoria sponge cakes to create one large tiered cake, or could ‘cut the ribbon’ instead to declare the dessert buffet open!L&A-LowRes-285 L&A-LowRes-541 L&A-LowRes-271Let me know if you’ve decided to do something a little different for your own wedding by leaving me a comment below and I’d love to see your own wedding ideas or cake photos so please tag me on Instagram @Cassiefairy. And be sure to stop by Laura’s blog Devine Bride for plenty more wedding inspiration, advice and fantastic ‘real life’ wedding photos.

 


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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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Cost-saving ideas for setting up your own business

Fancy setting up a business of your own? Do you daydream of sleek white offices or cute boutique shops where you’re the boss? Perhaps you’ve got amazing skills in crafting, sewing or design and everyone keeps telling you that you should do it as a job. Or maybe you’ve been working in an industry for so long that you know it inside out and just know that you could do a better job working for yourself. If you’ve been thinking about setting up a business there are plenty of things to consider long before you take the plunge and I’d love to chat through a few of these with you today.

setting up an online retail business from home

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Setting up your online store

These days many business start out online and grow their customer base before requiring a physical store. So if you’re thinking about creating a website, I’d definitely recommend doing your research before buying a domain, a hosting plan, e-commerce package or site-building software. Some are more user-friendly than others – so you’d be able to design the website yourself and save money – while some might have hidden charges for future updates or for adding more data storage as your business grows. An easy way to dip your toes in is to list your products on already-established retail sites such as Etsy, Folksy, Not On the High Street or even Ebay. You’ll pay different fees for selling via these sites but it may be less expensive than setting up your own e-commerce site and customers will be able to find you more easily.

The internet is THE best place to promote your business so use all the free resources to get your name out there. You definitely want to link a blog to your e-commerce site, because the regularly updated content on a blogroll is great for SEO and will help increase your ranking on Google. There are plenty of free social media platforms you can use to promote your business – think Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ etc.etsy tips for starting a business online

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Save money with better storage

Finding ways to save money should be one of the focuses of every business manager and owner. When it comes to providing adequate storage for a business, this can be a cost-saving measure in its own right. All sorts of costs drop as a result of increased capacity in storage or a more rational approach to keeping stored items in good order. First of all, handling errors are minimised by staff when storage is laid out well. They tend to be able to find the components they need or able to fulfil customer orders more rapidly. This means greater productivity which, in turn, means you need fewer staff, thus saving money.

In addition, well laid-out storage of paper records, stock and goods-out areas means that mistakes are made less frequently. Having to fix something that has gone wrong is so much more costly to businesses than getting it right first time! High-quality storage improves efficiency, leads to better customer fulfilment and reduces costs year on year.packaging ideas for online retail business

Minimise processing costs

There will always be costs associated with businesses who are retailing online, as you need to get the product to the customer quickly and in great condition. So shopping around for suitable suppliers of low-cost boxes, packaging, tape, tissue paper, packing materials and anything else you need to pack up an order (ribbons and personalised stickers are a cute touch) is essential. It might be easy to stick with the first company you speak to, but if you’ve got a quote from one supplier, why not get in touch with a couple more to see if they can match or beat the price. You may find it beneficial to stick with a local company – even if a national brand DOES end up being a littler cheaper – because you’ll probably be able to get in touch with them more easily, develop good business relationships (perhaps there’s something you can do for them?) and if you need something in a hurry you can actually go straight to them to physically pick up a box of tape etc.

Delivery companies also should be compared before you start selling online, so that you know how much you should be charging for P&P. You could end up losing money if you just pluck a delivery charge out of the air! Postage costs vary wildly so it’s a good idea to pack, weigh and measure your product and then get quotes for the delivery. It could very well be easier to pop to the local post office each day, but if you’re sending out high volumes of products each day, perhaps having one courier collect all the parcels from you at once would be more convenient – and cheaper!packaging ideas for small online retail business

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UK Blog Awards 2016 Most Innovative Blog – And the winner is…

For the first time in almost 10 years of blogging I don’t know what to write. I finally understand what people mean when they say they are speechless – but I am wordless. I’ve never sat in front of a blank page and not known what to write. But today is different. Today I should be writing something important, meaningful and… well, I don’t know. But, so far, words escape me. I’m thrilled, chuffed and living in a dream. I literally woke up this morning and couldn’t be sure if it all really happened. But all the wonderful messages of congratulations that I scrolled through on twitter this morning confirmed it. I had won!uk blog award winner 2016 most innovative cassiefairy-3 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-29You see, yesterday was the UK Blog Awards 2016 and (after a long day at work) hubby and I had driven to London to attend the glitziest of awards ceremonies. Sponsored by Odeon cinemas and held in the ultra-swish Park Plaza hotel in Westminster, it was the most amazing event I’d ever been to. Themed around the magical story of The BFG by Roald Dahl, the venue was beautifully dressed with blossom trees and jars full of dreams. The BFG himself was even wandering around the venue, photo-bombing bloggers wherever he went. It honestly felt like I’d stepped into a dream, and that’s probably why I find it so hard to believe that my dream became a reality last night.uk blog awards ceremony 2016-14 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-11 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-8 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-6 Having already chosen ‘my winners’ for each category in the awards, I knew that I was up against the stiffest of competition and most inspirational of blogs. I knew I didn’t stand a chance of scooping an award so I was simply there to soak up the atmosphere, meet some of the wonderful women that I’d been collaborating with over the past year and to seek out some of my blogging inspirations. So you can understand my wordlessness when the opposite happened and judge Sandra Donskyte – my business hero – announced me as the winner of Most Innovative Blog. I was hoisted from my comfy “I’ll just sit here and watch” seat and gently encouraged onto the stage by my husband, where I whimpered (and probably swore!) my way through collecting the award. Thank goodness Sandra and Kate Russell were there to hold me up!uk blog awards ceremony 2016-18uk blog awards ceremony 2016-20 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-21 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-26There is no word to describe that moment. Nor any moment since. I guess that word hasn’t been invented yet because I can’t seem to find any word even remotely suitable in my vocabulary to tell you how I felt. So, in the absence of words (I honestly thought this blog post was going to be blank when I sat down to write a few minutes ago!) I’m going to have to let our photographs do the talking.

My swishy dress & red handbag are from Boden, my pretty (and all-night-long comfy!) pink shoes are from Hotter and my make-up is from Lookfantastic.com

I met SO many wonderful bloggers last night and I had the chance to chat ‘in real life’ to many of the folk I email on an almost weekly basis. It was the chance to meet face-to-face that really made the night special and I loved every minute. I’m hoping to collaborate with many of the bloggers I met, so I’ll be sure to introduce them to you soon. Even now I keep asking my husband whether I did actually win; I’m worried that I went up on stage and collected someone else’s award! But no, it DOES have my name printed on it, so (as long as I keep it nearby so I can continue checking) I’ll start to believe it soon.uk blog award winner 2016 most innovative cassiefairy uk blog awards ceremony 2016-19 uk blog award winner 2016 most innovative cassiefairy-2 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-29Thank you all so much for the years of support, for reading my blog, for sticking with me, for commenting, for tweeting and for being my friends. You guys rock!


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Help motivate your fellow #WomanKind

How have you been getting on with your #WomanKind journey so far this year? I want to chat through my own progress with you today, and please read on to enter my amazing hamper giveaway including £100 John Lewis vouchers (and there are TWO of these amazing prizes up for grabs)! You may remember that I started blogging about this inspirational campaign back in January and have been sharing my own ideas of ways to be kind to yourself. I began by writing about my wardrobe, and the ways that I planned to revamp my look for a stylish 2016. This blog post included ideas for tidying, organising, repairing and investing in my clothes to make them last longer and help me look better all year round. I also wrote about the research I’d read into the lives of women, and discovered that 88% of women criticise themselves in ways they would never consider doing to other women.prize hamper giveawayThe results of this survey (and the #WomanKind video) really inspired me plan to treat myself with the same kind of care and compassion that I treat others with and got me thinking about ways of living well. Of course – as a die-hard thrifty gal – I had to think about ways of doing this on a budget, so I went on to share ideas for finding amazing party shoes without splashing too much cash on payday. Yes, it CAN be done, ladies! And if you shop smartly you might never need to buy any more party shoes again, sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? Well, it IS possible so check out my Tuesday Shoesday blog post to find out how!prize competition giveaway hamperOf course, I couldn’t talk about being kind to yourself without discussing healthy living, so last Pieday Friday I shared lots of delicious (and good-for-you) recipes. I also discussed some of the things I do to live a healthy life while still eating meals that aren’t dull. Check out my mealtime (and treat!) tips in this blog post and join me as I kick-start my healthy eating plan for 2016. And before you head off to get started, why don’t you enter my amazing giveaway of prizes worth over £100? Read on to find out how to enter…prize john lewis vouchersAll you have to do is share your top tips for being #WomanKind. This could be the things you eat, the activities you do, the treats you buy or the clothes you wear. It could be your favourite ways to relax, money-saving ideas, DIY projects or tips on spending quality time with friends. It could be a motivational quote, something you’ve read that inspires you or song lyrics you love. In fact, it can be ANYTHING that you want to share with other readers to help make them (and yourself) happy.prize win competition gift voucherThere are no limits to how many ideas, tips, quotes or activities you want to share via social media – just make sure you include the hashtag #WomanKind and let me know when you’ve tweeted, commented, facebooked or instagrammed your tips by using the Rafflecopter widget below to record your entry.

This unbelievable prize hamper includes the following:

  • £100 John Lewis Voucher
  • Weight Watchers Recipe Book
  • Weight Watchers – Pasta, Pasta Sauces & Snacks
  • 3 months free at Weight Watchers

And to top it all off, there are TWO prize hampers up or grabs! Yes, two of you lovely people will win a hamper each just for helping to inspire others! Now that sounds like a good deal, doesn’t it?! And as it’s a leap year this year, you’ve got one extra day to enter on the 29th Feb too. Don’t delay – enter the giveaway now!

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to UK readers only, runs from 22/02/2016 to 29/02/2016

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