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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5 Useful tools to get your new business off on the right foot

When you’re starting your own business, there are a whole host of tools to help you on your way to entrepreneurial success. Whether it’s cloud-based finance apps to help manage your cashflow, or scheduling apps to manage your time, you won’t be short of options when you finally take the leap into self-employment. However when it comes down to the absolute essentials, there are five key products that will enable you to start working smarter, ensuring you’re up and running in no time at all.1. Business Cards

For a small sum, business cards can potentially give you a huge return on investment, whether you’re just starting out or you’re an experienced business. Having one of your own cards to hand at an opportune moment could make the difference when it comes to landling that big client. Get some printed with your web address, contact number and email address to make sure you’re always prepared for whoever you meet.

Cost: £**2. Website

Getting yourself a website set up should be one of the first tasks you undertake, regardless of your industry or profession. It’s often the first place that potential customers or suppliers will go to for research, even before they pick up the phone to call you. Not only does it give them information about where you are based, but also things like how long you have been in business and whether you have any reviews that they can read. Often if you don’t have a website that is easily accessible, they will click on to one of your competitors.

Cost: £***3. Virtual Landline Number

Setting yourself up with a virtual landline number from a service provider such as Flower Telecom is one of the smartest moves you can make when you’re starting out your business. It’s a local or national telephone number that diverts all of your calls through to any other UK landline or mobile. Not only are you able to choose your own telephone number and the area code, but you are future-proofing your business by guaranteeing you will have the same number for as long as you have the business. This means that you will never have to reprint business cards, redo stationary or change your advertisements. If you ever move offices, you can simply change where your virtual number diverts to within 20 seconds.

Cost: £**

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4 Ways to add extra value to your property

Whether you’re looking to sell your home, or simply want to make the most out of the space you have available, remodelling is a great way of adding value to the property and giving your home a unique touch. There are elements of your home that you can’t change, such as the location, but there are so many features that you can change which will really help when it comes to the selling process.

Add value with bright & airy spaces – Image source A Sweet Afternoon via Nyde

But you don’t have to be selling before investing in your home and that’s certainly not what I’m planning. We’ve been doing work our the house over the past few months and are hoping to increase the value of our home before we renegotiate the mortgage. A higher valuation will mean that our Loan To Value (LTV) is better, and will help us to get a lower interest rate going forward. Plus, we’ll have a house that we’ll enjoy living in for longer! Here are a few popular renovation ideas that are guaranteed to add some extra ££s to your home.

1.Create an extension

If you’re fortunate enough to have a property with a decent-sized garden you may find you have just enough room to extend your house and create more living space. Whist gardens are a great feature to have when selling your home, if you can get away with extending out and still have some garden space you’ll certainly be adding value to your property. If you’re working to a budget, a single-storey extension is great for opening up your kitchen area, adding a dining room or even introducing a conservatory or dayroom to your home.

An amazing glass extension – Image by Rise Design Studio

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DIY photobooth props for weddings and parties

This has to be the quickest DIY project I’ve ever done. I don’t even have a step-by-step guide to share with you. But I do have some before and after photos so you can see just how effective this easy project is. Roll on wedding season!I wanted to make some pretty frames to use in a photobooth at a party. These are great for Christmas parties, birthdays, hen parties and anniversaries. And of course, the photobooth is almost a tradition at weddings now! This project really was as simple as:

  1. Take the back off an ornate picture frame and remove the glass
  2. Spray paint with metallic paint.

Okay the 3rd step might be to give the frames a second coat of spray paint. It’s important to only spray paint with fine coats of paint to make sure that the paint doesn’t drip. So it’s better to do two or three thin layers to build up the colour rather than one thick coat. And…

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It’s National Experience Week – what would you do? + giveaway

Ever fancied driving around the Grand Prix track at Silverstone? Have you thought about learning a new skill? Or do you just like the idea of trying out a new restaurant for dinner? Just what would you choose if you could try out ANY new experience? It’s #NationalExperienceWeek and this has got me thinking about my own dream destinations and new things I’d love to try out so today I’m sharing what I would do if I could do anything at all. And the good news is that it IS possible to kick-start your bucket list this month thanks to Into The Blue, who are running a giveaway to win any dream experiences worth up to £1000 so check out their competition page now.

National Experience Week runs from 17th – 26th April so it’s the perfect excuse to get over those post-bank-holiday blues by trying out something you’ve never done before. The ethos behind this week-long celebration is that everyone should have an exciting day out every once in a while, especially with big celebrations like Christmas and resolution-building New Year so far behind us. It’s a great excuse to treat yourself, have a little fun and try something new. Here’s what I’m planning:Segway Adventure

Okay, okay, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know that I’ve tried out segway-ing (is that the correct term?) at Thetford Forest in the past. I can’t explain how amazing it was to be whizzing through the woods with the wind in my hair; I loved every second of it and have been bursting to go on another segway adventure as soon as I can. But this time, I want to do extreme segway. It’s faster, rougher terrain and I can’t wait to swerve and jump around an extreme course. Plus, I’ve just discovered the possibility of going on a trek with an all-terrain segway – bring it on!

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My decoupage Easter egg project was featured in Reloved magazine!

Am I ready for Easter? You bet! I’ve been DIYing Easter projects for a couple of months now and the great news is that two of my projects have been published in my favourite magazine Reloved.The first project was turning some very old books (you know the kind, where loose pages flutter out as soon as you open it) into a traditional flower press. Do you remember pressing flowers as a child? I’m sure we just put them between the pages of books, but this projects takes it one step further with bolts that screw down to compress the flowers.Using a flower press actually makes the pressing process so much quicker – my little daffodil heads were pressed within a day or so! They were ready to be used to make Easter cards, decorations and to decoupage some egg shells. You can find the step-by-step instructions for the flower press in Issue 40 of Reloved – if you haven’t already got a copy, you can order a back-copy or check out the website.These eggs were laid by my mum’s bantam hens so I wanted to preserve the tiny egg shells to use in my easter decorating projects. I used tester pots of matt emulsion paint to give them a pastel colour and then glued the flower heads on with PVA glue.I popped the eggs back into the egg tray and they sit among the freshly laid eggs to decorate the kitchen for Easter. Let me know if you have a go at making these eggs (or the book press, for that matter!) for yourself. And I’d love to see photos of your own DIY easter decorations for inspiration so please tag me in your instagram pics @Cassiefairy.


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What’s wrong with your curtains?

The right curtains can immediately improve a room’s comfort and aesthetics. But did you know that it’s possible to hang curtains incorrectly? It may seem unlikely, but I’ve been in a room this week where the curtains were the wrong length and it was literally the only thing I could look at! Even minor mistakes can make a big impact so, before I invest in any curtains for my new home, I’ve been doing some research into what not to buy. I thought I’d share this advice with you so that you can take a look around your home and make sure your curtains don’t suffer from the four common problems I discovered…

I made my own caravan curtains & blinds – read the blog post here!

1. Too-long curtains 

Off-the-peg curtains can sometimes be a little too long for your room and you’ll end up with extra fabric that bunches up on the floor. If the curtains are really long they can look like a pile of laundry that’s been neglected for weeks! Raising your curtain rod is the easiest way to make long curtains fit your room. Just make sure you raise the rod high enough so the curtains don’t touch your floor. If you’re handy with a sewing machine, the alternative is to shorten the hem of the curtains. I shortened some curtains for my own home and now they are perfect for the space.

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Why I didn’t buy my dream home

You know when you have an idea of your perfect home in your mind – go on, picture yours now… You’d hope to one day be able to buy that house and move in with a perfect blush pink sofa and two fluffy cats, right? Or maybe that’s just me. But anyway, you know what style you like, the type of building you’d choose and the location you’d love. So why, when I was searching for a property to buy, didn’t I buy my dream house?

The dream cottage from House and Garden

It’s not as simple as ‘I couldn’t afford dolls-house-esque Georgian mansion I wanted”. I found plenty of beautiful homes within my budget (though I wanted to get a good deal, naturally – I’m a thrifty gal after all) but none of them quite came up to scratch. I wasn’t being picky – they we’re all homes that only two years ago I could never have dreamed of owning – but for a whole year, every house I viewed or came close to buying ended up not being ‘the one’. Here’s why:

It was too small. I quickly found out that the trouble with picturesque cottages is that they’re too small. I’ve stayed in SO many lovely holiday homes that are small but perfect-formed, so I thought that this was the style of house I wanted to buy. But when I started looking at them with the reality of actually living there, I realised it would be a struggle. The rooms in cottages are so cosy, but tiny. Even the windows were too small, meaning that most rooms were dark even in the midday sun – no good for a full-time blogger, eh?! I can’t even remember how many times my husband banged his head on the low beams! Sorry quaint holiday cottage, you’re not the house for me.

Beautiful home and garden by photographer Rachel Warne

The road was too close. A couple of the perfect cottages we looked at were just too close to the road. Some were main ‘A’ roads, while others were tiny village roads. Either way, the proximity of the road always seemed to cause a problem. It could be that there was no nearby parking, it was sometimes a noisy truck-route and in other places it was difficult to even get out of the driveway onto the main road. Sorry ‘excellent road links’ house, I won’t be parking in front of you.

It was listed. And even though this means the building is packed full of beautiful original features, gorgeous inglenook fireplaces and beamed ceilings, I didn’t want to take on this responsibility. As you know, I like to do a lot of DIY work myself and I couldn’t imagine being restricted by the listing requirements. The listings often covered things like the colour of the front door (that’s conservation areas for ya!), the style of windows (cold non-double glazed, for a start) and the roof tiles. Considering that I love to learn new skills and DIY as I go, it seemed unlikely that I’d want to stick to the listing restrictions and keep things exactly as they are. Sorry ancient house, you’re no home of mine.

The dream garden from Sequin Gardens

There was no garden. Okay, not true – they all had gardens. But the trouble was the tiny size of the garden. Or the overlooked nature of the garden. Or the neighbour who was sitting in their garden, which backed onto our kitchen window. Odd configurations of the plot was a big factor in the decision not to buy most of the houses we saw. Considering that we like to work in our garden and host gatherings around a BBQ it was important that we had a usable outdoor space. And even the most perfect ‘how does your garden grow’ plots were too small to put up a shed. Having space to build a workshop was one of our ‘essentials’ so that my artist husband and I can work together, so if there was no room for a sizable shed, we walked away. Sorry cottage garden, I won’t be mowing your lawn.

The good news is that, in the end, I actually DID buy my dream home. I just didn’t know that this house was what I was looking for when I started my property search. It’s about twice the size of any other houses we saw and has a garden that we can grow into. We can park easily and the no-through road rarely sees any traffic. Other houses in the area have been altered and updated without any problems with planning and I love that I can DIY everything myself. Hi happy home, I think I’d like to move in.

The moral of my story is to keep an open mind when house-hunting. After countless viewings, I said to my husband “let’s just look at ANYTHING within our budget” even if it doesn’t seem right. The very next day a square 1950s house came onto the market and I booked a viewing with this new ethos in mind. I very nearly cancelled that appointment a few times because I was sure this house wasn’t the right one for us. But when we arrived at the quiet location and walked up the long garden into a house with more rooms than we knew what to do with, I was so pleased that we’d given it a chance.

Good luck with your house hunting guys!


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How to work fewer hours & have more time for fun

How many hours are you working each week? Whatever your answer is I’m going to say that’s too many hours. When the sun is shining and you’re overlooking people playing in the park it’s tempting to quit your office job there and then. But you really don’t need to do that in order to start working less and enjoying life a little more. It’s just a matter of careful planning and negotiating; if you play your cards right you could be spending less hours in that stuffy office while still doing the job you love. Here’s how:

Emilie’s home office from Stella + the Stars

Work from home

Alter your current work routine. Convince your boss that you should start working remotely. Plenty of guides exist on the best ways to persuade an employer. More and more of us are spending part of our working weeks doing our job from home. That’s because a business often benefits from the increased productivity of a remote worker. Forbes estimates that 91 percent of these employees feel they get more done when they’re working in their home office. There’s no distractions for a start! And you can set your own hours – so if you work best in the morning, get up early and do it all while you’re feeling energetic. Then the afternoon is free for strolls in the park or reading in your garden. Since you’re more productive when you work remotely (and you’re saving hours on the daily commute!) you’ll have extra time to spend with your family. 

Here’s Victoria’s home office from Apartment Number 4 as featured in Style at Home magazine 

Learn to delegate

Delegating tasks will make sure that things continue to run smoothly, even if you’re working from home. Think about your daily and weekly workload and see what you don’t need to be doing. Delegation of duties helps the company as much as you; rather than take on too much work on your own, you could train those who report to you so that they can handle these responsibilities in your absence. You want to set them up to succeed, offering advice when they struggle. You also need to wean yourself away from the habit of doing everything yourself. Delegation is the first step to getting more time to yourself. Once you master delegation, you’no longer need to spend excessive hours at the office!

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3 things you can sell to make extra money this week

Happy hump day everyone! It’s the middle of the week and already I’m looking forward to the weekend. Want to know why? I’m planning to spend a bit of time clearing out some of my belonging and see if there’s anything I can do without. That may sound like the least exciting weekend ever but I’m really motivated to have a tidy up and clear out the clutter. It’ll make moving easier if I’ve got less stuff to shift AND I can possibly make a little extra money by selling some of it on. So I thought I’d share with you some of the ways I’m planning to earn some cash from my unwanted stuff in case you too want to earn some more money this week… 

Clothing you no longer wear? Sell it on!

Clothes

Selling your clothes couldn’t be easier and is a great way to make some extra cash. Take a look in your wardrobe and remove anything you haven’t worn in the past year because you’re probably not going to wear it this year either! Take them to a car boot sale this week and earn a few pounds for each piece. If there are some pieces that still have the tags on (there certainly are in my wardrobe anyway) these will be worth more so you could sell them online via Depop, HardlyEverWornIt or Ebay. Anything you don’t sell can be donated to charity or you could take use websites that offer to buy your clothing by the kilogram, such as Genie Recycling or Return to Earn. The added bonus of selling your clothes is that you’re decluttering your wardrobe and making some extra storage space. You’ll rediscover clothes you already own and love but that you haven’t seen in years because they were stuffed at the back of the wardrobe.

Fallen out of love with your jewellery? Sell it on!

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Top 3 dress trends for spring/summer 2017 and how to wear them

The sun is out – hip hip hooray! For me this means the start of the spring/summer season and that means a slight shift in my wardrobe. It’s no longer the weather for woolly jumpers and thick jeans – which can only mean one thing; dresses are back! Today I’m sharing my picks of the spring/summer collections on the high street and tackling some of the more difficult styles to wear. Plus, there’s a giveaway to win TWO go-with-everything Kissbobo invisible bras – read on to enter the competition today!

image source

If you’re going to any kind of event this year, you’ll probably want to invest in a new dress. I’m not necessarily giving you permission to buy a new outfit for every occasion but do think that one fabulous new dress could see you through all the hen parties, work events, weddings, christenings, days at the races and dinner parties you’ve got planned this season. But which one dress will cover all eventualities? And what kind of underwear will you need to wear with these off-the-shoulder styles styles? Here’s my top 3 dresses for S/S17 and how to wear them… 

The cold shoulder midi

This classy cold shoulder dress is the perfect spring/summer outfit for special occasions. It’s just landed on the New Look website and already I’m a fan. With a floaty floral fabric it’ll keep you cool in the warm weather. And when there’s a breeze in the air it’s long enough to cover your knees, and the sleeves will give your arms a little protection from the cold. It can be dressed up with heels or kept casual with a pair of trainers so it’s a wear-all-weekend piece. LOVE the yolk yellow colour! It’s got a slinky low back and thin shoulder straps so finding the right underwear might prove tricky; the Kissbobo invisible bra would do the job perfectly. It’s an adhesive gel bra so there’s no straps to worry about – no chance of your underwear peeking out from below your pretty dress in any of those wedding photos!

Two prizes to be won in my giveaway – enter competition below…

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