Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??


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Dressing for sun & rain in Spring – what I’m wearing during this in-between season

Just look at that sunshine out there! It’s amazing how lovely the weather has been all year so far and after such a mild winter I am certainly looking forward to a gorgeously warm spring and summer. Since December I’ve been telling everyone that it will definitely snow this winter – mostly based on the heavy late snow we experienced last February – and I’ve been waiting for it to happen, yet the frost has stayed away and we’ve had nothing more than a few hail stones. I was so certain that snow was on its way that I’ve been stocking up on woolly scarves and gloves in the January sales – but I’ve only needed to wear my bobble hat on one frosty morning in January (around the 5th) and there was a chilly morning on 29th December. I remember it well, because that’s the only bad weather we’ve had.

That’s not to say that the bad weather won’t still come in April. I’ve heard anecdotes from family and friends of snow on their early April wedding day and blizzards on mid-April birthdays so it could still happen. It would be such a shame to have a late snow in April this year because all the plants have come out of hibernation and been growing already but a heavy frost might kill off all those buds. So lets keep our fingers crossed that Spring really IS here and that we’ve only got lovely sunny weather ahead of us!

The trouble with this time of year is that ‘in-between-ness’ of warm and cool, sunny and dull, woolly jumper and t-shirt. What should we wear when a day starts off overcast but blossoms into the warmest day of the year? How silly and chilly would we feel when we head out into the morning sunshine in our sandals only for the wind to start howling and grey clouds to block out the sun. I’ve found this hot-and-cold, sunny-and-cloudy, ultimately changeable weather quite difficult to dress for. So far I’ve dealt with it by wearing lots of layers that can be taken off or added on as needed, always carried a coat with me and I’ve not yet shed the winter tights. Sometimes I’m too hot and sometimes too cold but it’s generally working well for me. The trouble is choosing spring-esque clothes without looking too summery but without resorting to chunky jumpers and snow boots. But I think I’ve come up with a solution:

Dressing for spring tutorial using fine knit jumpers

1. Layers: And the essential item is fine-knit, thin or open-weave jumpers. After a recent shopping trip to London Designer Outlet (great for getting discount designer clothing in the UK) I have bought these light jumpers, one each in deep red, teal, cream and light blue. They are thin enough to layer up with vests and cardigans but are light enough to keep you cool if the sun suddenly makes an appearance. I’ve been wearing these with jeans and tall boots on chilly days and tucked into skirts during warmer weather and so far I’ve been able to cope with whatever the weather throws at me!

2. Colours: I also think that colours are important at this time of year, because you might stand out like a holiday-maker in pastels and tropical prints but look equally suspicious if you’re wrapped up in dark colours on a sunny day in the park. So another suggestion is to wear tones that are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum. Hang up your black jumpers and burgundy dresses and add a few whites, blues and greens into your wardrobe. This will help you to look fresh and spring-like without going for a full-on summer look.

3. Fabrics: I think that you can’t go wrong with denim at any time of year and it’s the perfect mid-season item. It keeps you warm on colder days but will still look cool if the sun comes out. Canvas is a good thick-but-cool fabric too so pumps, bags and jackets in canvas are perfect for layering with your fine knits.

Fashion styling ideas for spring summer 2014

4. Accessories: You don’t need a woolly knitted scarf to keep warm when the wind gets up, a thin cotton scarf will work just as well when it’s wrapped around your neck a few times so invest in a couple of these in lighter colours so that it still looks cool and fresh when the sun is out. This look actually reminds me of classic French styling so it might be a good idea to check out the French Style Tips section of the La Redoute website – very handy for getting a classic look during this difficult time of year. Also, if you have room in your handbag, always take an umbrella with you! At least then you can wear a thinner, non-waterproof coat and you’ll be able to stay dry under your umbrella-ella-ella if a shower surprises you.

What do you think of these styling ideas for spring into summer 2014? Let me know how you’re coping with the funny weather and what you’ve been wearing during this in-between season, I’d love to hear what tips you have for this time of year.


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A vintage Mother’s Day greeting

Today I am heading over my mum’s house to wish her a very happy Mother’s Day. I’ll be taking round some edible treats and a little gift to thank her for being simply the best!

I also want to wish all the mothers out there a very happy Mother’s Day and especially all the women in my life; my nan, my sister, my sister-in-law, my mother-in-law and my friends - you’re all doing an amazing job!

Here’s a cute little vintage Mother’s Day greetings card from 1958 to send lots of love to you all on your day!

vintage 1950s greetings crd happy mothers day

1950s greetings card via Pinterest


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Tuesday Shoesday ~ Would you have shoe ‘art’ on your walls?

Just how much do you love shoes? You like wearing them, yes – but would you hang them on your wall? After seeing all the fabulous photographs of shoes that my lovely readers have sent in to me when I asked them to share the story of their favourite shoes (check out the post and get involved here!) I realised how much you all love your shoes and how nice the images look – they could almost be works of art. So would you want to see your favourite pair of shoes immortalised as an artwork and would you hang it on your wall for everyone to see? There are been plenty of examples of artists painting images of shoes throughout history and I’ve been researching my favourites to share with you today.

The first image that I stumbled upon was this 1887 Vincent Van Gogh painting titled “Three Pair of Shoes”. Who would have thought that a few pairs of battered old shoes would become a thing of beauty when captured in a Van Gogh painting? I really like this piece and it would be the perfect print to frame and decorate the walls of a country house conservatory or boot room.

Degas Van Gogh art painting of shoes

Original image sources via my Tuesday Shoesday Pinterest board

Degas famously captured ballet dancers in his work and there are numerous images of ballerinas tying their ballet shoes. This is a prettier way of displaying shoes on your walls and if you a fan of ballet anyway, a framed Degas print would be perfect. I could imagine it hanging in a bedroom or even in a little girl’s playroom, so cute!

I’ve also been thinking about the shoes we own and love and even though we might not wear our prettiest shoes often perhaps we could at least admire them by every day hanging an image of them on your wall? You can certainly take some lovely photographs of your shoes and get them printed by a printing service online to create your own poster art. Or maybe you could have your favourite pair of shoes immortalized as a work of art by one of the fabulous artists available to commission on Etsy? Better still – why not attempt to paint them yourselves? You can get hold of a canvas cheaply at shops such as The Works or The Range and can have a go at painting your own shoes – don’t worry if you go wrong at all, you can just call it an ‘abstract’ painting!

tuesday shoesday corkscrew

What do you think about shoes as works of art? Would you like to hang your shoes on your walls? And please let me know if you have a favourite pair of shoes that you’d like including in my next ‘Your Shoes’ blog post in April. I’ve already had a few submissions from lovely readers so please send me a photo of your favourite shoes and a sentence or two about why you like them – I’ll share them one Tuesday Shoesday and link back to your blog/website if you have one so send me your favourite shoes to cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk thanks!


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Saturday night cocktails – it’s just ‘tidying up’ really…

So what if I don’t want to spend £9 on a cocktail on a Saturday night in a swanky bar in the city? It doesn’t mean that I’m dull, ‘square’ or poor – it just means that (for the second time in two days) I’d rather put that money towards a new garden gate. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not having a great time on a Saturday night because I’m probably getting up to all-sorts of things in the privacy of my own home. Okay, that came out sounding a lot racier than I intended it to, but what I mean is that I can enjoy a night of cocktails and glamour without having to leave the house and that’s exactly what my husband and I did last weekend.

thrifty night in ideas for retro cocktail making

We got out all the bartending paraphernalia that my husband loves to collect and that we now finally have a use for, then we looked through the drinks cabinet to see what we had left over after Christmas. See, I’m actually tidying up after Christmas by drinking these cocktails, honest. We nipped out to the shops to buy some lemons, mixers and lime juice – the missing ingredients for our evening of experimentation (again, sounds dodgy but it really wasn’t). We also picked up some bar snacks and popcorn, because I knew I’d get the munchies after a couple of drinks. That evening we surveyed our stash of ingredients and typed them into Google and before we knew it, we were mixing up cocktails we’d never heard of based on the suggestions of a search engine. The first drink was, rather unfortunately, the worst thing I’ve ever tasted in my life. Imagine chewing on the rind of a particularly pithy orange that has been soaked in nail polish remover. Delicious, huh?

cocktail making with retro babycham champagne glasses

But that didn’t stop us. Oh no. We had a go at mixing a limey, gingery, rum and whisky combo which was very tasty but also very strong and my husband made the most delicious drink of damson brandy (one of our home-made boozes – see the recipes here and here) and something fruity. If only I’d been paying better attention, or had a better memory after one-too-many drinks, then I’d be able to tell you what went into our cocktails and you’d be able to recreate them for yourselves. But that’s not really the point – I simply wanted to share with you the concept of having a night in on the lash, using up your existing stash of booze and being thrifty on a Saturday night. I’ve shared recipes for Cherry Amaretto, three festive cocktails and Amaretto Sours (which I also enjoyed making on this occasion!) on the blog previously so check out those bad boys! By the way, it’s even more fun when you have guests over and you can really show off with all the shaker-twirling and add loads of garnishes to the glass. Hubby enjoyed using the retro paper-fruit-straws that Father Christmas gave him in his stocking this year and I munched my way through half a tub of cherries, oops!

mix your own saturday night cocktails with cheap ingredients

Bailey’s and chocolate milkshakes were mixed as a yummy dessert – and tasted just like one of my favourite cocktails from the very expensive cocktail bar that I mentioned in the first paragraph. Although I don’t advocate drinking lots and should tell you all to drink alcohol responsibly and in moderation, I think that its probably safer if you’re drinking at home and can control the measures you’re having yourself. Plus, you don’t have to stumble too far into bed, and there’ll be none of this loitering around dark streets near the kebab shop and walking home with bare feet with your 6-inch heels in your hands while singing Tina Turner songs and doing ‘her legs’. Well, there’s an image of my ‘student experience’ that you’ll enjoy for years to come..!

Although I’d love to say that I do this every weekend, I definitely won’t be mixing cocktails this evening because I’m having a much more enjoyable night looking after my amazing nephew and we’ll probably have even more fun making a puppet show with his Chatty Feet socks again rather than knocking back the booze. Snort - I just made myself laugh with the idea of ‘socktails’ rather than cocktails :D  Maybe I could mix up a fruit-squash mocktail for us? Apple cordial, anyone?


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Our mini Chinese New Year celebration

Last night, I decorated the house with paper garlands and red fairy lights and surprised my husband with a Chinese meal to celebrate the Chinese New Year. We ate all the classic and totally inauthentic Chinese takeaway favourites; chow mein, egg fried rice, prawn crackers and sweet n sour chicken. It was a lovely evening in, and seeing as we don’t every really eat at the dining table (yes, we’ve fallen into that habit of eating in front of the TV) it felt like a special occasion and we had a proper catch-up. Plus the invitation to our friend’s wedding arrived so we celebrated that too! Here are some of my photos of my pretty Chinese-inspired table setting:

inspirations for chinese new year the year of the horse

I know that my lucky cats aren’t strictly of Chinese origin but I was going for a general oriental theme and I guess that a strawberry paper garland isn’t completely authentic either! My Chinese lantern is the one I was talking about yesterday that I got from a tiny tourist shop in Manchester last year and has been hanging in my caravan workshop ever since. And now that I’ve used this floral fabric as a tablecloth, I’m thinking it would look great as a skirt or dress so maybe it will make another appearance on the blog soon, albeit in the sewing section!

oriental inspirations for chinese new year table settings