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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Top 3 dress trends for spring/summer 2017 and how to wear them + underwear giveaway!

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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Map Geek – Make it personal with romantic maps

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll already know what a geek I am when it comes to maps. Old, new and anything inbetween – maps are intriguing, enticing and informative. I’m the kind of person who wanders over to information maps on footpaths or in city centres and looks like a total tourist, but really I’m just interested in the map itself. Why is it here? What’s nearby? Any special information? Someone has taken the time to make that map and put it there, so surely there’s a reason that’s worth investigating. So it probably comes as no surprise that I also love to have maps in my own home too, and that’s where Mapify comes in. Read on to find out more about my Valentine’s map and how you can win your very own personalised map created just for you by Mapify in my giveaway – and there’s THREE prizes to be won!Thankfully, my husband is equally interested in maps, so when there’s an museum exhibit of old relief maps in the Lake District, or an exhibition of Max Gill’s famous street maps at The Lettering Arts Centre we are first in the queue to see it. I guess we’re well suited to each other, eh? So what better gift could I get for my husband this Valentine’s Day than a personalised map? Well, I’m pleased to say that it IS possible to create your own map of any location throughout the whole world, and have a fantastic quality print on your wall in a matter of days. Mapify is the serviceI used to make this special gift, and here’s how I did it.

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My advent calendar – 12 days to a beautiful Christmas

Yes, I still have an advent calendar every year, even at my age. I’ve had chocolate calendars to countdown the days until Christmas for as long as I can remember. And I probably had a printed cardboard calendar even before then. I love opening a door every day, bring me one step closer to the big day with every chocolate treats I eat. Even my cats have advent calendars so that every member of the household can join in with the festive fun.12-days-of-christmas-beauty-advent-calendar-vintage-cosmetics-1-of-7And no, it’s not just for kids – you see, advent calendars have grown up. I can’t walk into a store or browse online without seeing calendars for adults too; mini bottles of booze, candles, jams, beer and (my favourite calendar idea of all) beauty. So this year I chose to plump for a slightly more grown-up countdown to Christmas with a calendar from The Vintage Cosmetic Co. Of course, I still have my Father Christmas chocolate calendar to enjoy too (!) but this beauty countdown is an extra special treat just for me.12-days-of-christmas-beauty-advent-calendar-vintage-cosmetics-2-of-7Once I started looking for a beauty calendar I found many different options. Some focus on nail polishes, some offer ‘seasonal specials’ from a cosmetics range, others have bath bombs, lip balms or skincare. Considering that I’ve got sensitive skin, a difficult-to-shop-for pale skin tone and will only buy 100% cruelty-free cosmetics, many of the beauty advent calendars weren’t right for me. Luckily I did find one that was perfect for my needs – and just in time for the start of December too!12-days-of-christmas-beauty-advent-calendar-vintage-cosmetics-6-of-7I picked the 12 Days to a Beautiful Christmas advent calendar for a number of reasons. Firstly, The Vintage Cosmetic Company is a cruelty-free producer – brushes are made from super-soft synthetic hair and their products are accessories rather than make-up. Secondly, there were items in the calendar that I actually needed, such as tweezers, make-up brushes, hair styling equipment and a foundation sponge. I didn’t have to worry about make-up shades not matching my skin tone or skincare products causing a reaction on my skin because each item in the box was a practical accessory, not a cosmetic product. Thumbs up so far…12-days-of-christmas-beauty-advent-calendar-vintage-cosmetics-4-of-7

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My new Christmas decorations theme – Blush pink & oodles of glitter

So now that bonfire night has exploded all around the country last weekend, I think I can safely move on to Christmas. That’s the rule, is it? Halloween? Check! Bonfire night? Check! Christmas? Ohhh yeaaah! Here it comes! Which is precisely why I’ve waited until now to show you my new festive decorations. I’ve been shopping this week (can you believe how many shops are full of festive stuff already?!) and was easily tempted to pick up some new bits n bobs.christmas-decorations-pink-heritage-vintage-glittery-trend-winter-2016-baubles-decorations-xmas christmas-decorations-pink-heritage-vintage-glittery-trend-winter-2016-baubles-decorations-xmas-8In fact, the prices of my new decs were so good that I couldn’t keep it to myself any longer, because I know that some of you will be the same as me and will be hunting out your new decorations for this year’s theme soon and I want to help you get a bargain. I usually stick to the same colours every year and have plenty of baubles that I’ve collected over the past decade that must go on the tree. But this tree is going to end up in the bedroom so I wanted to go for a different look this year.

As always I was inspired by Pinterest (here’s my Christmas board if you want to take a look) and I found myself pinning more and more handmade baubles and ballerina pink hues. Of course, it wouldn’t be Christmas without oodles of glitter so discoball-esque decorations were definitely on the cards. I found the exact dusky pink shades of Christmas decorations that I wanted on the Homebase website but decided to go along to the shop to buy them ‘in person’ so that I could see the size of the baubles and how they looked side by side.

I found so many more options in store that I didn’t even notice on the website so I picked up a few more packs than expected. Even so, I didn’t spend more than £14 on ALL these decorations. A full 1.8m tall tree was covered in this pretty pink theme (including two very special handmade baubles at £2 and £2.50 – my showstoppers!) for this low price. The mini baubles were only £2 for a pack of 20, can you believe it?

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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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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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An Amsterdam Affair book launch & interview with author Amanda Addison

I have some very exciting – and much anticipated – news to tell you today. The latest novel from award-winning writer Amanda Addison has finally landed on Kindles all around the country. An Amsterdam Affair was launched on Amazon on Thursday and I’ve been lucky enough to interview Amanda to find out her inspiration behind the novel and how she likes to work. Having thoroughly enjoyed reading her first novel Laura’s Handmade Life, I couldn’t wait to see what Amanda would come up with this time!addisonbeach-kindleSupported by the Arts Council, An Amsterdam Affair is a bitter-sweet family saga about searching for lost love and how families come undone and are re-made. At the heart of the story is a family secret. If you enjoyed the inter-generational themes of romance and second-chances in Last Tango in Halifax; or the artistic and seaside motifs in Notes for an Exhibition this may be the book for you. I’m sharing an extract from the novel below so have a read and see what you think! In the meantime, I’ll crack on with questioning Amanda about the inspiration behind her art, crafts and novel.

Whereabouts in the country are you based and how does the location inspire your art and writing?

I live in the countryside in South Norfolk, not so far from both the Norfolk and Suffolk coast. My favourite all-time place to be is beside the seaside. I’ve always had a real ‘call of the sea’ – my mother now lives a few minutes’ walk from the sea in Cornwall – so it must be in my blood. I love to paint and write about the sea – it’s a constantly changing subject and therefore one I never bore of! As an art student I made an artist’s book – entitled The Sea for my final show at Chelsea School of Art. It included paintings and poems and I covered it with blue silk. I’m a great admirer of the artist Maggie Hambling, who painted the sea every day for a year. Her shell sculpture, on the beach in Aldeburgh, is a key location for a romantic tryst in An Amsterdam Affair.

In many ways the settings in An Amsterdam Affair are almost characters in themselves, reflecting the main characters’ changing moods and emotions. Sam, one of the story’s narrators uses a beach hut as her studio. I write about East Anglian big skies, the sea, windswept beaches and flat landscapes both sides of the North Sea. Great Yarmouth, a town on the edge and Amsterdam, a city I lived in briefly many years ago, with its warren of streets, canals and cosmopolitan galleries.Addisonhut kindle2 small

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Enjoying football during Euro 2016

With the England game about to kick off in the Euros this afternoon (and almost everyone I know bunking off work to watch it!) I knew I couldn’t let today pass me by without at least a mention of the big game. I think this year’s tournament has been the most anticipated and most exciting that I can remember – like Euro’96, only better! And the other good news of the day is that I’ve got a fabulous giveaway from the lovely folk at www.mywraps.com so read on to find out how you can WIN your own set of unique headphones to stealthily enjoy the Euros this summer..!headphones my wraps competitionWe’re enjoying the Euros so much that we’ve actually got a wall-chart up at home – and that’s something I’ve not done since I was a teenager. It’s fun to fill in the results and keep track of who is going through to the next round, and who has been knocked out. While I’m not that into football for the rest of the year, it feels right to get a little bit excited about our British teams. Even so, during some of the less-exciting games. I’d still rather be baking – so be sure to check out my ‘Come on England!’ strawberry cheesecake recipe to enjoy during the big games!

Don’t get me wrong, I do follow football. I’ve even taken part in fantasy football leagues in the past (a total fluke that I ended up in the top half of the league – I don’t think I substituted any players all season!), but I wouldn’t call myself a fanatic. Apart from my annual visit to the ITFC terraces to cheer on my local team, I can often go from one month to the next without keeping track of any scores. For my husband, however, things are different.

england football team image source – thefa.com

He’s the type of man that knows who scored a goal in the 92nd minute in an Arsenal v Wolverhampton game in 2002, even though he supports neither team. Of course, I would never know if that game even took place, so that’s just a vague example that I made up. But nonetheless, that’s the type of info he would just know about football, so you can see how keen he is on the sport. And you can imagine how sulky he is to be working today and missing the game. What he needs today is a pair of headphones and 90 minutes of staring at a laptop screen. However, I don’t think that’s going to happen, poor fella.my wraps headphones giveawayI, however, DO get the watch the game. If I get all my work done this morning, I can take this afternoon for myself and pop on the telly. But for all you folk who can’t get away from your computer screens during Euro 2016, I highly recommend getting yourself a pair of MyWraps headphones and plugging them in to enjoy all the action throughout the tournament from your desk. Just check with your boss first, haha! And the good news is that you can enjoy a 10% discount at MyWraps.com with the voucher code “KickEuro10”, and enter my giveaway to try to win a set below.

image source Getty Images from thefa.com

From the photos I’m sharing today I think you can see why MyWraps headphones are so cool; they double-up as wrist wrap. This means you’ve always got them to hand (excuse the pun) and they won’t be tangled up in the bottom of your handbag when you need them. They’re available in loads of different colours and styles, and look much more like a bracelet than a pair of earphones! I’ve got a pair myself and today I’m giving away a couple more pairs for my wonderful blog readers.my wraps headphonesThe fabulous folk over at MyWraps.com have offered Cassiefairy.com readers the chance to win a pair of Wraps Classics wearable wristband headphones so that you can enjoy all the action from the Euros. There are two prizes up for grabs, so that means two winners too. And don’t forget that you can get 10% off at MyWraps.com during the Euros with the discount code “KickEuro10”. There are plenty of ways to gain entries via the rafflecopter form below so enter today and keep your fingers crossed!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to UK residents only. Competition runs from 16th June 2016 – 26th June 2016. Good luck everyone!


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Tuesday Shoesday – Those “other” accessories…

It may be Tuesday Shoesday but today I’m doing things a bit differently. Instead of focusing on beautiful shoes and fabulous bargains, I’ve decided to check out that ‘other’ all-important accessory instead: the handbag. It’s equally as important as shoes – you probably don’t ever leave the house without it – and it can have so many uses that it’s hard to know where to start when you’re shopping for a new one. That’s where I come in. Today’s blog post is a wishlist of handbags for every occasion and all purposes. Plus one of these bags is an absolute steal and I am definitely buying it! Can you guess which? Let’s get started…handbag satchel clutch bag school work wedding spring summer 2016 shoppingFirst up is satchels. I carry a satchel myself most days. They’re small enough to carry without putting too much of a strain on my arm or back (yes, I love a cross-body strap) and they’re big enough to hold everything I need day-to-day. They can look rather cool in a back-to-school kind of way too, and remind me of my college years. I posted a photo of my own satchel on Instagram recently for a ‘what’s in my bag’ tag, so you can have a nosy at my tiny little everyday satchel if you like. It’s embossed leather and deep blue so goes perfectly with most of my autumn/winter wardrobe. I’d quite like to have a brighter, summer version of my satchel to migrate over to during the warmer months.handbag satchel school work yellow spring summer 2016

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Cruelty-free products I already use…

Last month I wrote about the reasons why I’ve recently made the switch to living a cruelty-free life. I’ve since written about homemade beauty as an alternative to bought products and the animal-friendly products I used to prepare for the UK Blog Awards. Today I’m looking at products that I already use and the cosmetics I’m currently carrying around in my make-up bag. Since the switch I’ve carried on using up the products I already own – this is a thrifty blog after all, and I can’t bear waste – but the difference is that whenever I use a product that’s been sitting in my makeup box for ages, I check the labels.cruelty free products household cleaning home makeup cosmetics beauty ecover-3I want to know what I can keep (the animal-friendly brands) and what will eventually be chucked. And when I can’t find out any info from the label, I google it and check out the brand’s animal testing policy. It’s such a wonderful moment for me when I discover that a product I love and have used for years is on the halo list! Phew, I can carry on using it and continue supporting the brand, safe in the knowledge that they are doing the right thing. Here are a few of the products I already had in my cupboards that are good eggs…leaping bunny international logo BUAV approved cruelty free cosmetics make up skincare household products beauty-6Lush

In my bathroom right now is the Ocean Salt face and body scrub, the Cup O’Coffee exfoliating mask and Coalface charcoal soap. The product above is my mascara; I use the ‘Eyes Right’ mascara every day. I was pretty sure that Lush is one of the good guys – they’ve got the ‘fighting animal testing’ logo on their packaging (above) – but I wanted to make 100% sure. I check out their website to learn more about the brand and found a page dedicated to the animal testing policy. Their stance on animal testing is completely clear: they will not buy raw materials from any company that tests anything on any animals for any purpose and will never test any of their own products on animals either.

Ecover

Yes, my washing-up liquid is cruelty-free! I’m celebrating by doing a little dance while washing up. This brand is great in so many ways: the liquid is made from renewable plant-based ingredients which reduces pollution, bottles are made from recycled and plantplastics, the formula is fine for sensitive skin and the packaging is recyclable. Boom! And of course, the leaping bunny logo is pride of place on the front of the bottle. The Ecover FAQ pages tells us “Since the beginning, we never tested finished products or ingredients on animals, and we have never ordered such tests by third parties either.” I’m switching all my household cleaning products over to cruelty-free brands so as I run out of washing powder, bathroom cleaner and hand soap I’ll be replacing them with cruelty-free alternatives. I’m sure that this isn’t the last time Ecover will be on my list.cruelty free products household cleaning home makeup cosmetics beauty ecover-4

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