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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3 cheap party ideas (for this bank holiday & beyond!)

If you love entertaining and organising parties, but haven’t currently got the budget to spend on a fancy dinner party or big blow out with drinks, decorations and entertainment, then that’s no reason to put your hosting skills on ice. Bank holiday weekends tend to have a party atmosphere (woo an extra night out!) and bring out a fun, cheeky side in everyone so it’s a great time to get your pals together for an impromptu party. There are lots of ways you can put together a fun gathering for your friends without spending much at all, and can be just as much fun as elaborate parties if you have some lively guests and keep everybody mingling. Here are three thrifty ideas for parties you could hold this bank weekend and beyond…

‘Pot Luck’ BBQ

Summer is coming, and this can only mean barbecues. Honestly, it wouldn’t be a bank holiday without someone dragging a BBQ out of the shed and getting all smoky with the sausages. Of course, buying all the food and other provisions for a good barbecue can quickly become expensive, so why not take the American concept of a ‘pot luck’ party? This is where everyone invited has to prepare and bring along a dish, and as it is a barbecue you can also give them the option to simply bring along some meat to cook. This can be a really nice idea if you have some friends who love to show off their cooking skills as they’ll bring something really delicious, but those who are less interested in the kitchen can just turn up with a pack of burgers or chicken for everyone to enjoy.pieday friday bbq flavoured olive burgers recipe

Check out my homemade BBQ burger recipe

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Pieday Friday – Minted pea pasta with chargrilled chicken

We’re all hoping for a sunny bank holiday weekend right? And what better way to spend the long lazy weekend than with a spot of al fresco dining, eh? I’ve got the ideal recipe for you to try out this weekend; it’s really fast, super-easy and uses just a handful of ingredients that you’ve probably already got at home. Whether you fresh fancy a change from your usual heavy Saturday night takeaway or you’ve got the family round for a light Sunday lunch, this recipe is a great healthy choice for any meal.minted pea pasta recipe with grilled chicken breast al fresco meal dinner-23 minted pea pasta recipe with grilled chicken breast al fresco meal dinner-25With fresh vegetables, light protein in the form of skinless chicken breast and low-fat wholewheat dried pasta, this recipe will quickly become your ‘go-to’ dish for weekday dinners. Let’s face it, you’ll probably always have a stock of these ingredients in your cupboard and freezer so can fall back on it time and again. I find it so reassuring to have a quick and healthy dinner available, even when I haven’t had time to get to the supermarket. I’ve always got a bag of Field Fresh peas in my freezer, using a handful here and there to accompany a fish dish or to pop into a shepherd’s pie, so I know that this sauce is only a few minutes away from being stirred through my favourite pasta after a long day at work.minted pea pasta recipe with grilled chicken breast al fresco meal dinner-27 minted pea pasta recipe with grilled chicken breast al fresco meal dinner-31minted pea pasta recipe with grilled chicken breast al fresco meal dinner-26It’s also a great dish for impressing friends during al fresco ‘supper club’ meals. The dish looks like you’ve spent hours preparing it and tastes delicious. It’s light enough to serve in smaller portions as a starter, or you could use the pea puree to drizzle over a fresh salad with parma ham, so keep it in mind for special occasions too. Here’s how to make it yourself… Continue reading “Pieday Friday – Minted pea pasta with chargrilled chicken” »


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Free weekend activity – Wild flower walk

Can you guess what we’ve been up to recently from the title of this blog post? Last weekend my husband and I set off on a lovely weekend walk in the countryside, planning to find a bluebell wood which (having googled it) we knew was nearby. After a long period of cold wintry weather in April, the sun was finally out so we wanted to make the most of this lovely spring weekend and get outside. We pulled on our boots, packed up our gloves (just in case the wind picked up) and even took a snack with us to nibble on at lunchtime. We were ready to head out into the great outdoors, to breathe in the fresh air, get a bit of exercise after a week cooped up in the office, and drink in the glorious views. Little did we know that all – and I mean ALL – the spring flowers had finally come into bloom. day out wild flower walk spring day out wild flower walk spring-4 day out wild flower walk spring-2 Our amble through the countryside had quickly turned into a botany trip. Spotting different flowers as we strolled along the footpath became a competition between us, almost like ticking off the flowers in an ‘Eye Spy’ wildflower book. Luckily, we’d brought the camera with us in anticipation of getting some pretty shots in the bluebell woods, so we began taking photos of all the flowers we saw on the route. We had soon photographed more varieties of flower, blossom and ‘weed’ than we could count, and that was before we’d even found our way into the wood.day out wild flower walk spring-20 day out wild flower walk spring-29day out wild flower walk spring-28When we arrived at Reydon Wood the route had been marked out by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust as a dedicated ‘bluebell walk’ so we strolled through the first part of the wood, still gathering photos of other varieties of flower, and hoping to round a corner and see a swathe of bluebells. You won’t believe it, but as we wandered along the path, the clouds burst open and it started to hail! Luckily, the canopy of the woodland protected us from being pelted with hailstones but we could see it coming down against the sunny backdrop of fields. Could a hail storm produce a rainbow, we wondered? Would it be solid? Thankfully, it was just a quick shower of hail and soon the blue skies were filled with fluffy clouds and sunshine again.

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Pieday Friday recipes for bank holiday fun ~ it’s all about the barbecue!

Okay, I can’t fight it anymore. After almost a week of unbroken sunshine and with the bank holiday weekend and half-term fast approaching I can’t deny that barbecue season has well and truly arrived. We all knew it was only a matter of time before we started tidying up the patio and the shops knew it too: everywhere you look there are offers on charcoal at the garden centre, deals on melamine plates in department stores and 3 for 2 on sausages and burgers in the supermarkets. We will all be having a BBQ this weekend and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Actually, I don’t have a barbecue. So I’ve got two options: cook my meat in the oven and eat it outside or invest in a BBQ (hubby’s preferred plan). I’m thinking that any purchase of a BBQ at this time of year would be a sensible idea, because it would have a whole season’s use ahead of it, but the thrift-meister in me is telling me to wait until the end of the summer and buy a barbecue in the seasonal sales ready for next year. In fact, I think that’s exactly what happened last year – I just forgot to do the buying bit by the time the end of summer sales arrived. So I guess that means I’m going BBQ hunting this weekend then?? We have friends coming to stay over the bank holiday so it would be lovely to sit in the garden, enjoy a nice meal and soak up the sun (wearing high SPF, of course – read my blog post all about it here!).

great BBQ recipes for homemade burgers plus sticky barbecue ribs and chicken

Here are a few of my favourite BBQ recipes from the blog so please check them out if you’re having a barbecue this bank holiday weekend:

Never one to be underprepared, did my research yesterday into the type of barbecue I should buy and found an excellent buying guide on the John Lewis website which I’m going to share with you all. It basically helped me get a good idea of what I want to buy versus what I actually need to buy and therefore I think that using the guide has saved me money and stopped me (and hubby) from buying the biggest BBQ we’ve seen – which was practically an outdoor kitchen – because in reality, we won’t need it! So here are the top tips for buying a barbecue this summer:john lewis bbq ideas for summer 2014

If you’re cooking for up to 4 people you’ll need a smaller cooking area, and can comfortably cook on a grill of around 1800cm². Also, if you’re going for gas, you might only need one or two burners on the barbecue, which will save on the amount of gas used per meal, compared to some of the 6-burner models. Cooking for larger crowds of more than 8 people is when you’ll need one of the largest gas barbecues (the sort that hubby loves) but for our family we’ll probably only need a BBQ grill of between 2000cm² to 2500cm² which is plenty big enough to cook for 6 people at once. Of course, you can cater for more people during larger parties if you have features such as griddles and warming racks on the barbecue because you can store and keep warm the first batch of food, while cooking up more meaty meals.

In terms of gas v coal, gas barbecues can be cooked with after about 10 minutes, but a charcoal barbecue will take up to 30-45 minutes to become white-hot and reach a good temperature for cooking. It’s easy to regulate the temperate on a gas barbecue in the same way that you can turn gas hob burners up or down, but on a charcoal BBQ it will be a case of raising or lowering the grilling surface to control the temperature. Charcoal or briquettes might be a cheaper fuel option than gas but will require more cleaning after cooking as you not only have to clean the cooking surfaces, but also clear out the ash. And finally, charcoal barbecues tend to be cheaper than gas, so it depends on your budget and what kind of fuel you’d prefer to spend your money on throughout the season.

john lewis top tips for bbq food summer 2014

I’m really pleased that I came across this buying guide and I hope it has helped you too. The good news is that there are plenty more advice guides on the John Lewis website for summer, including tips for the barbecue chef, a video on cooking with gas barbecues, recipes and a good grilling guide. My final favourite piece of advice is that when your barbecue arrives, it’s a good idea to position it on a level surface away from combustibles such as plants and fencing, and in a sheltered position if windy. This will mean that accidents and the possibility of setting fire to the hedge will be less likely and, as with everything, it’s all about safety first! Have a lovely bank holiday 🙂


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My Diamond Jubilee weekend in photos

I had such a hectic (but lovely) weekend over the Diamond Jubilee bank holiday that its taken me this long to recover and get back into full-swing! As you might remember me mentioning before the Jubilee, I had celebrations planned throughout the whole weekend – fitting in as many community parties and BBQs as possible! Luckily the weather was lovely round our way (wasn’t it such a shame that the Thames pageant was such a wet day?) so we had a fabulous time celebrating during the day and watching the TV coverage in the evenings. Here’s some of the photos I took over the weekend – can you spot the most patriotic breakfast-in-bed ever, that my husband made for me??


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Diamond Jubilee Weekend here I come!

I’m really looking forward to enjoying all that my local area has to offer to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee this weekend! Today I’ll be attending a village BBQ with my family and taking part in the jubilee quiz and tomorrow I’m off to the check out the celebration picnic in the new village that we’ve just moved to (apparently there’s going to be a samba band procession too!).

On Monday its the larger town gala and later I’ll be watching the jubilee concert on TV and finally I’ll relax on Tuesday at the beer festival at a nearby pub. Blimey, I think I going to need another bank holiday to recover from this weekend!

So I’m getting into my red-white-and-blue outfit and new bunting necklace (from The Catkin Boutique) and making the most of the free activities and spending time with my family and friends. Lets just hope that the weather stays good all weekend!

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