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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Saving money this winter – tips for home, wardrobe & cooking

If you are living on a tight budget, each season brings its own challenges and I think that winter might be one of the most difficult. During this season one of the biggest issues homeowners face is finding the money to pay for higher-than-usual power bills. We all know that it’s likely that we’ll be using more fuel and power in the winter; it’s cold, so we have to put the heating on. In addition, the fact that the days are shorter and we usually end up spending more time at home means higher electric bills too. We tend to have the lights and electronics, like the TV, on more. Fortunately, there are ways to keep the bills down, so that you don’t get a massive shock when the gas or electric bill arrives in three months time and here’s what I’ve come up with…Insulate, insulate, insulate

And I’m not just talking about in your loft. It’s draughts that zaps the heat from your home at this time of year but you can stop them today. Getting draught excluders for your doors is a really easy and cheap way to stop heat leakage. Make your own using just a towel and a fold of fabric – here’s my DIY draught excluder project  (I used an old fleece blanket to fill mine) so have a go at making one for yourself and stop that draught now! While it’s not a great idea to not open your windows at all in the winter (the stale air and condensation is a breeding ground for mould, ick!) there will be windows in some rooms that aren’t usually opened anyway. These windows can be insulated using a thin film of plastic that is specifically made to block out any draughts. These kits are widely available and extremely easy to install. In the summer you can remove the film and  you can go back to opening and closing your windows as normal.Knitted layers

Usually if you wear a jumper and a pair of cosy slippers around the house, you can get away with turning your heating down by several degrees. Doing so can save you a lot of money and on average you will save 2% for every degree lower you go. I know it’s kind of the norm to be able to just wear a t- indoors, but I think you should dress as if you’re going outside. In winter you’d usually wear more than just the one layer to go outside and if you wear the same indoors too you’ll definitely be able to turn down the heating. Knitting scarves and big chunky blankets for everyone is a fun winter project, which will soon pay for itself in the extra warmth you’ll all enjoy. Crocheted throws are great for snuggling up under while you watch a movie or play video games when the weather’s bad outside.Slow cooking Continue reading “Saving money this winter – tips for home, wardrobe & cooking” »


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Hygge and Lagom – Living the Scandinavian way this winter

Hoo-gah. Honestly, that’s how you pronounce it. Lagom is slightly a tougher one… lar-gohm. If you’re already over hygge, then maybe lagom is for you. With the new year in full swing, the Scandinavian concept of ‘everything in moderation’ may be better suited to you (especially if you’re making changes to your lifestyle and diet) than the full-on snuggle-up-and-get-cosy-during-deepest-darkest-winter concept of hygge. Lagom means ‘just the right amount’ and is a slightly more matter-of-fact approach to living a more balanced and thriftier lifestyle. As a very thrifty gal, it’s no wonder I’ve become intrigued by this concept, is it?The eagle-eyed of you may have spotted that I received a book relating to this topic for Christmas. Yes, I finally own a copy of the famous Hygge book by Meik Wiking. You know, the one that instagrammers seem to be posting photos of daily during the autumn and winter. The Danish art of hygge doesn’t necessarily have a certain look or design philosophy, it’s more about the feeling and atmosphere that a room gives you. It’s about appreciating the small things in life and about the times you have felt at your happiest. Recreating that vibe throughout your home is hygge, pure and simple. Lagom is very different and there are four ways to embrace lagom this year; eating with the seasons, reducing your environmental impact, stressing less, and enjoying things in moderation. So you can see that this Swedish concept is more about lifestyle as a whole, rather than focusing on creating a feeling of cosiness in the home like hygge. It’s about having just the right amount of food, achieving the ideal work/life balance and doing your bit for the environment. Sounds like a set of new year’s resolutions, doesn’t it? I already feel like it’s more serious concept than the warm-and-fluffy idea of hygge, but maybe that’s just my natural reaction resolutions in general. What a rebel.In contrast, home interior specialists Baytree Interiors have come up with the four elements needed to create the perfect winter sanctuary with the Danish concept of hygge. These are: textures, small spaces, natural colours and low lighting. Firstly, rustic materials such as wood and leather work well to create hygge-esque textures especially when combined with cable knits, faux fur and fluffy rugs. Secondly, larger rooms will benefit from being divided up, to make a series of cosy spaces. Thirdly and neutral colour scheme using brown, gray and cream will give a sense of bringing nature indoors. And finally, lighting is the most important element in any Hygge home and it’s the easiest way to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Lamps and candles create soothing pools of light around the home, and the Danes are said to light more candles than any other country in Europe!I can see how the two ideas can work hand-in-hand. For example, if you’re practicing the lagom idea of stressing less, you’ll be wanting to create a lovely hygge environment in which to relax in. Food and drink can be hygge too (I’d call it comfort food…) and the lagom idea of having everything in moderation means that you really can enjoy that hot chocolate with squishy marshmallows without feeling guilty, because you’re just having one mugful. And of course, switching off the electricity to sit by hygge candlelight, couldn’t be more lagom in terms of reducing your environmental impact, could it?These two Scandinavian concepts aren’t in competition with each other, but they have both become really popular this winter and it seems like a good idea to learn a thing or two about lifestyle from the happiest nations in the world, doesn’t it? I can’t wait to introduce some of these concepts into my own home and life in 2017 and try to embrace a happier, cosier and more relaxed approach to life. So if you find me tucked up under a blanket that I’ve knitted myself rather than doing any work, that’ll be the reason why! Let me know if you’re inspired by these Scandinavian ideals or if you’ve been adding a touch of hygge to your home this winter by leaving me a comment below 🙂


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Thrifty winter wedding outfit ideas

Being invited to a wedding always lifts my spirits. It means that one, often two, of my friends have found happiness, and are ready to settle down to a life together. It also means a party, a chance to meet up with old friends and family, dress up, and generally have a good time. Weddings really are wonderful, regardless of what time of the year they are held, but there is something extra special about a winter wedding.Wedding outfit in winterThe fact that few people get married in the colder months makes them occasions that are even more memorable. Winter weddings are a bright spot in what is often a grey and bland time of the year. As a result, I really look forward to them, but there is one issue, and that is finding something suitable to wear. For some reason, buying dresses for weddings in the winter months is nowhere near as easy as it is during the summer. I am not exactly sure why that is. Perhaps retailers are responding to the fact that demand for wedding outfits is not as strong as it is during the hotter months. However, if you know where to look, and think outside the box it is possible to find something suitable, and do so even if you are on a tight budget.

A long dress allows you to wear thick tights or even thermal leggings underneath for warmth!

A long dress allows you to wear thick tights or even thermal leggings underneath for warmth!

Rework what you have

If you have recently attended a Christmas or New Year’s Eve party, there is a good chance that you will already own something that is suitable. Often you can adapt a party dress and make it work for a wedding. This is especially the case if you will be attending an evening reception. The chances are during the ceremony you will be wearing a wrap, or coat to stay warm so a party style dress will not necessarily look out of place. Making the wrap yourself from a length of coordinating fabric is an easy way of keeping the cost of your outfit down, and ensuring that you end up with something that fits in properly with your dress.

A slip and tights make it possible to wear even the prettiest summer dress to a winter wedding

A slip and tights make it possible to wear even the prettiest summer dress to a winter wedding

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Cruelty-free winter skin care

At this time of year I like to give my skincare routine a bit of a shake up. With all this warm air indoors and cold winds outside I find that my skin dries up completely and I tend to need a cream or serum that’s just a little more luxurious than my summer range. Of course, I love the freshness of my summer moisturizer (I wrote about my cruelty-free choice for summer skincare on my blog last year) but it doesn’t always clear up the flakiness of my skin when it’s dry over winter. No, I need a richer option – a hydrating and rejuvenating product. And I know where to find it…cruelty-free-skin-careEven though Christmas is well and truly over, there’s no reason why I can’t smell frankincense every day, is there? I’m talking about the soothing scent of the Neal’s Yard anti-aging skincare collection. I’m always wary of trying out new skincare options as my skin is really sensitive but my first choice will always be the cruelty-free option and I’ve done a lot of research on the brand.cruelty-free-skin-care-courseNeal’s Yard skincare is certified by Cruelty-Free International and recognised by PETA, and the products are 100% vegetarian. Not only that; they use Fairtrade suppliers and are the first British health and beauty brand to be certified both For Life and Fair for Life by IMO. So far, so good! cruelty-free-skin-care-anti-aging

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Sleep better & feel better this winter

The average person will spend approximately 25 years sleeping, and with good reason. Whoever said ‘sleep is for the weak’ certainly hasn’t experienced the joys of being horizontal on a Sunday morning.  I wonder if there’s a stat out there for the amount of time people daydream of their bed whilst at work? I can only imagine that would be immeasurable. And how many times have you had that late night social media craving? You’ve scrolled on Instagram for an extra 5 minutes, which morphs into an hour (and a half) and then feel completely rubbish in the morning when you’re pressing snooze for the too-manyieth time.cat-sleep-comfortable-bed-pixabay-1 Well, they do say you only know what you’ve got when it’s gone, and I think sleep is SO important to make sure I’m happy for the day! It’s time to focus on waking up in the morning feeling refreshed, not wanting to sleep for 5 minutes longer, and certainly not relying on your good friend coffee to pick up all the pieces. The positive effects that a great night’s sleep can have on your well-being are hard to ignore, so here are my top 5 tips for sleeping like a baby…cat-sleep-comfortable-bed-pixabay-2Tea and coffee curfews

You may think curfews are for children, but it never hurts to have a little self discipline, especially when it comes to caffeine. If you’re anything like me, you really love a good brew tucked up in bed— sorry friends, this has to stop. It turns out that while coffee is our primary suspect for caffeine consumption,  that crafty hug in a mug we know as tea can contain over half as much. Try and decide a suitable time to have your last sip, for me, tea is prohibited after 6pm. Well, I’m sure I could have a hot chocolate instead..!bed-coffee-laptop-pixabay

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DIY Gifts Video – Step-by-step camera case sewing project

Over the past month I’ve been busier than an elf in Santas workshop – yes, I’ve been DIYing lots of festive projects ready to share with you on the blog this December. And what better way to kick off the month than with a simple gift project – a felt camera case.felt-camera-case-sewing-project-easy-diy-tutorialThis easy-sew project lets you create a custom-made case for your specific camera, with no difficult measuring or pattern-making. In fact, it couldn’t be easier – you simply lie the camera on the piece of felt, pin the pouch in place and stitch it up!diy-video-project-easy-sew-sewing-felt-camera-case-gift-present-youtube-14I use straight stitch throughout the project so this can easily be done by hand or on a sewing machine. The fastening is sticky-backed velcro dots so no need to make a difficult button-hole, and the button I stitch onto the front flap is purely decorative, so you could even give this step a miss if you want to make the project even easier.diy-video-project-easy-sew-sewing-felt-camera-case-gift-present-youtube-1-2All you need to make this quick and easy project is a piece of felt, pins, a needle and thread (or sewing machine), a button, velcro dots, a ruler and scissors. All the instructions are on the video so have a watch and pause (or rewind) the tutorial whenever you need to. And once you’ve got the basics, you can easily adapt this case to fit other things too; ipads, make-up, mobile phones and so on.diy-video-project-easy-sew-sewing-felt-camera-case-gift-present-youtube-2

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Taking care of your cats during the winter

Autumn and winter are not just difficult times for us human, with dropping temperatures, sniffles and dark days, our pets sometimes suffer more in the winter too so today I’ve put together a little blog post about taking care of your furry friends this season. Of course, I want my cats Cookie and Muffin to be happy and healthy all year round, so I’ve done my research to find out just what to do to look after them during the autumn and into winter and I hope these tips will help you too!tips for looking after your cat during the autumn winter-2A warm place to sit You may have noticed that your cats like to sit in the sun and will seek out the warmest places to nap. This becomes a problem when sunny days are in short supply during the winter months and your cat can become uncomfortable in the cold. It can even stir up arthritic problems in older cats, especially if they are sitting in a draft on their favourite windowsill. Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your cat warm and cosy. You can give them a cat bed or padded windowsill cover to keep their sleeping bodies off cold surfaces and it’s even possible to buy a heated pet bed for added warmth! Check for drafts around windows and ensure that curtains are open during the day to take advantage of any sun that does shine this winter. One particularly worrying Cats Protection article I read warns that cats sometimes like to sit on vehicle engines for warmth in the winter so be sure to check where your cat is before starting the car!cheeky cat sleeping on laundryCold spaces indoors – Older cats with thinning fur and ailments may get colder more quickly, so be aware that turning the heating off while you’re out of the house might be a problem for your cat, so maybe just turn it down rather than off completely so that they can still find a warm spot to rest in. Pet owners often keep litter trays and feeding spots the garage or conservatory and these rooms can be much colder than the rest of the house in the winter. The drop in temperate to use the ‘facilities’ may actually put your cat off eating or going to the toilet, which can cause all kinds of complications, so consider bringing the cat’s trays and bowls into the house so they stay comfortable.tips for looking after your cat during the autumn winter

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