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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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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My upcycled picture frame breakfast tray project is in Reloved Magazine!

I’m delighted to share with you some pics of my latest project in Reloved magazine. This month I made a breakfast-in-bed tray as a romantic treat for Valentine’s Day. What do you think??I upcycled an old picture frame and turned it into a breakfast tray by removing the glass, and decoupaging old book pages (a falling-apart copy of Jane Eyre and a Marilyn Monroe biography, if you’re interested!) onto the back-board. It’s a similar effect to the book-page feature wall I created in my bedroom – if you missed that blog post you can check it out here.I added a couple of decorative handles (taken off some old drawers that used to be in my mum’s kitchen!) and gave the whole tray a protective coat of sealing varnish.

The full step-by-step guide to making the picture frame tray for yourself can be found in Issue 39 of Reloved magazine, and if you’re quick you can still pick it up in the shops this week. The next issue comes out on 23rd Feb, so you’ve not got long to grab a copy!Here’s some photos of the magazine itself – I’m always SO thrilled to be featured in print and see my projects shared with so many thrifty readers. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing my name on the page as ‘the designer’ – eeee!

My one-cup teapot set is from The Caravan Trail – lovely bright colours for Spring!

The next of Reloved (Issue 40) is out this week and contains lots of lovely Spring and Easter-themed upcycling projects so be sure to check that out too!

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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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Books, books, books – What I got for Christmas & first impressions

I guess I was quite adamant when I said I only wanted books for Christmas, huh? Because that’s what I got – and piles of ’em! So you can imagine how thrilled I am to start the new year with a stack of books to read and plenty of reviews to bring you throughout 2017. I’m just about to finish reading Dave Gorman Versus The Rest of The World so I’m excited to dive straight into these new books. Here’s what I received and my first impressions:book review 2016 2017 books tim peake amy schumer caitlin moran gretchen rubin-3Caitlin Moran – Moranifesto

I’ve read most of Moran’s books and this one has been on my wishlist since it was published in March 2016. I didn’t buy it straight away though because I find hardbacks more cumbersome to read and I was waiting for the paperback version to come out. How long would I have to wait? While I was browsing a book store in Ely in November I found this signed first edition and pointed it out to hubby. Thankfully he took the hint and managed to snaffle it for me without me knowing! Can’t wait to get started on this review 2016 2017 books tim peake amy schumer caitlin moran gretchen rubin-9Tim Peake – Hello, is this planet Earth?

As someone who followed Tim Peake’s mission religiously (and was giddy with excitement when I met him only a couple of days after he returned to the UK) you can imagine how excited I was to unwrap this book. It’s a chunky square book full of beautiful photographs taken by Tim during his time on the international space station. The cover is a shiny hardback (which I think looks a little bit cheap or unofficial) but when you open the pages, it’s full of stunning photos alongside Tim’s own words about the images and locations. I’d actually recommended this book to mum as a suitable present for my husband, but it was actually him who bought it for me. Good thing we didn’t all buy it for each other!book review 2016 2017 books tim peake amy schumer caitlin moran gretchen rubin-7

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Book Review + Interview – Upcycling by Max McMurdo

I can’t believe that it’s been a whole week since this book launched and I’m only now telling you about it. I’ve had my eyes on it for weeks and have been eagerly awaiting it’s release. Teaser tweets and Instagram posts by Max have got my excitement for this book bubbling up to a dangerous level. Combine that with my already OTT love of thriftiness and DIYing, and you’ve got one giddy girl on your hands. So you can imagine how quickly I tore open the packaging of my book delivery last weekend.gumtreebus-max-mcmurdoThankfully, it book itself didn’t disappoint. I knew it would full of Max’s trademark industrial projects and thrifty flips, but I didn’t realise just how comprehensive it would be. This isn’t just a ‘look at this pretty room’ design book. Oh no. It’s full of practical advice and step-by-step, photo-by-photo tutorials. It’s so detailed that even I feel confident about removing a drum from an old washing machine and turning it into an illuminated side table.max-mcmurdo-upcycling-diy-book-review-2With techniques for measuring and cutting, drilling and sanding, wiring and finishing, Max teaches you all the DIY skills you need to know in order to complete the projects in the book. If you want to know what a nylock nut is, Max’ll tell you. I thought I was alright at a bit of DIY. Good, even. But it turns out that there’s so much more I can learn. Thank goodness I’ve got this book to teach me the tricks of the trade. They don’t call me thrifty for nothin’ and if I’m going to upcycle, I’m darn well going to learn how to do it properly (and safely!).

Just before the book launched last week I had the opportunity to ask the author some probing questions so that I could share his answers with you today:max-mcmurdo-upcycling-diy-book-review Continue reading “Book Review + Interview – Upcycling by Max McMurdo” »

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Book Review: Handmade Beauty (& keeping life cruelty-free by making my own)

If you missed my blog post last month on living a cruelty-free life, you might be a little baffled by the title of this book review post. I’ve made the decision to make my life as cruelty-free as possible – cosmetics, food, toiletries, even household cleaning products – so when I was offered the chance to review Handmade Beauty (and share some of these thrifty recipes with you for free) I couldn’t resist. After all, what’s more cruelty-free than making your own, eh?!Bath Bombs - StyleI’m also rather keen on the idea of knowing exactly what ingredients have gone into the products that I’m using on my face, hair and body. Having particularly sensitive skin, it’s sometimes hard for me to find ‘off the shelf’ products that are gentle enough for me. Even the fresh and almost-good-enough-to-eat products at LUSH are sometimes not quite right for me so I’d rather mix the ingredients together myself and know exactly what’s in there and what isn’t. Plus, I’m sure that I could probably be saving quite a lot of money by making my own scrubs, bath bombs, balms and hair treatments.Pineapple Clay Mask - StyledFair enough, my homemade beauty products might not last as long as ones packed with preservatives, but I can make smaller batches or mix up only the amount that I need at that moment. And never again will I have to throw away a half-used tub of fresh face mask because it’s gone a bit funky after sitting in my bathroom for two months longer than its use-by date, oops..!Cover_HandmadeBeautyThe book that I’ve been testing out is Handmade Beauty: Natural Recipes for Your Face, Body and Hair by Juliette Goggin and Abi Righton. Each recipe contains step-by-step instructions for mixing up your own lotions and potions – much like a cookery book – and tells you how long the finished product will last and how to store it . The authors even give advice for labelling and prettifying so that you can give away your handmade treats as gifts – another great money-saving tip!Hair Rinse with Beer - StyledThe two free PDF recipes that I’m sharing with you today really caught my eye, thanks to the interesting combination of fresh ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions. The first is for a really delicious-sounding Hair Rinse with Beer, Lemon and Rosemary and the second recipe is a Pineapple and Yoghurt Smoothie Clay Mask. Hair Rinse with Beer + Lemon + Rosemary - Step 1 Continue reading “Book Review: Handmade Beauty (& keeping life cruelty-free by making my own)” »

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Share your serenity – Reading

“Me time.” It’s something that we all want more of but is the most scarce “time” of all. It usually comes after work, when all chores have been completed, and after ensuring that everyone we care for is okay too. Only then do we look around ourselves and realise that we’ve actually forgotten what “me time” is. I often wonder to myself; What do people do when everything else is done? I pick up my phone, scroll through, but every message has been replied to, every snapchat chatted and every Instagram liked. I open my computer and find that every email has been responded to, every article has been written and my Facebook friends haven’t shared anything new for the last five minutes. I close the laptop again and sigh. I must have finally reached “me time” and it feels inspiration share your serenity readingOdd, but good. No more lists to do, no more reply to make and no more chores. The house is clean, the family is fed and my “to do” list is in the bin. I love this time. Even though it’s rare, and I may have forgotten how to spend it, I know what I want to do. I want to read. My serenity comes from words. Whether through a great book, on an inspirational blog or in my favourite magazine, the process of reading calms me down, forces me to stop (have you ever tried reading while doing something else? It’s one of the few things that I can’t multi-task!) and usually involves a cup of tea inspiration - share serenity reading books catI am currently reading Stuffocation by James Wallman. It offers insights into ‘living more with less’ through case studies, economic research, cultural change and psychology and I’m in awe of the stories I’ve read in this thought-provoking book. Focussing less on possessions and more on experiences is a mantra that I’d love to live by and the ideas I’ve read in this book have already inspired me to make changes in my own life. Yes, reading itself gives me serenity, but the things I’ve read have also caused more serenity in my day-to-day life with only a few simple inspiration - share serenity reading magazines tea-2My magazine subscription has just dropped through my letterbox. My favourite journal cannot be beaten; The Simple Things is a monthly tome of relaxation and just living. With gorgeous photography and well choreographed words, every flick-through calms me down, whether I have 1 minute or 1 hour to spend on “me time”. Just turning the thick pages soothes my soul and I’m always delighted by the stunning image revealed on the coming page. Yes, it’s another inspirational article on wellness, appreciating the little things in life and enjoying every inspiration - share serenity reading magazines tea-3Tea is essential. Tea soothes and calms. It’s the perfect accompaniment to any book, magazine or Bloglovin’ browse. It means that I am sitting down and not moving from this spot until I’ve had a good read. Wisps of steam rising from the cup are an added bonus. Mine is milky with one sugar (or sweetener) so it’s a real treat. Yes, I have one by my side right now so I’m feeling pretty good right now. A sip in between pages is key to enjoying a long read, and a refill is the “me time” holy grail. Especially if someone else gets it for you so you don’t even have to move off the sofa. Yes, a good cup of tea can heal any problem and make every moment a little more inspiration - share serenity reading blogI’m not just a blog writer, I’m also an avid blog reader. I love checking for updates on my favourite blogs and discovering new inspirational writers via Twitter and Blogovin’. Some of my top blogs have been open tabs on my iPad for literally months so that I can flick them on at a moment’s notice and catch the latest article. I’m calmed by the gorgeous photos that bloggers seem to create so effortlessly and a well-written post can beat any book, hands down. I’m inspired by the real life of the writers I follow and am motivated by their endless enthusiasm and ideas. I wish I was them, and I love that I’m part of the blogging community and get to enjoy the kindness of sharing each day. This is definitely one of my ultimate serenity moments; reading stunning content created by inspirational people from around the globe. Amazing.share your serenity

I’d love you to share your own serenity too and let me know what brings you peace. I’m so interested to find out what you get up to during your “me time” and whether you too forget what you’re ‘supposed’ to do when you get a spare minute to yourself! I found this challenge on the Portmerion Village website and I hope that you too will feel inspired to #shareyourserenity through your own blog and tweet me the link @Cassiefairy so I can have a read. Thanks, chat to you soon.


Dream a little dream… of a cosy Christmas

Hello and happy Christmas eve! Just a quick blog post today because I have lots of gift wrapping and cooking to be getting on with but I wanted to show you a couple of snaps of my festive bedroom.

Mum treated us to this reindeer Christmas bedding (I think it was from B&M) and I really love the seasonal pattern. It’s inspired a whole festive theme for the room, including a small stag-print heart decoration that we bought at a village fair earlier this month and a candle in a similar design. I’ve hung my letter to Father Christmas on the bed and we even have our morning cuppas in matching reindeer mugs (another gift from mum!).

Continue reading “Dream a little dream… of a cosy Christmas” »

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My little vintage caravan project ~ a different kind of bookcase

I’m back on the case with my vintage caravan makeover and this week I’d like to share some photos of my new storage solution – a bookcase with a difference. I have plenty of books that I want to store in the caravan – mostly the ones I’ll need to use while working out there – so I have a stack of sewing, crafting, design and art books that all need a safe home.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog - bookcase ideas-3

I was driving past a skip and I spotted that this old shop display shelving has been chucked in. The skip was actually outside one of the local shops so I nipped inside and checked whether the shelves had been thrown out and whether it would okay for me to give them a new home. It turned out that this old unit has been used for the display of greeting cards! So after a lot of rearranging of seats in the back of my small car and quite a bit of shoving, I managed to bring this shelving unit home and try it out in the caravan.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog - bookcase ideas-1

Amazingly enough the unit fits perfectly in the space between the door and seats, plus the hollow back of the sloped shelves allowed it to sit over the top of the wheel arch and didn’t need any cutting down. I intended to paint the whole thing white, but when I tried putting a few books on the shelves I realised that I would never really see the actual shelves as they would be covered up by the books. So that saved me a lot of time! I simply filled the shelves with my book collection and sat back to admire my ‘hard’ work.

Vintage caravan makeover project on Cassiefairy blog - bookcase ideas-2

Looking at all the books face-on inspires me to pick them up and flick through, much more so than when housed on a bookshelf so I think I prefer storing my books this way. I might not be able to store as many books this way and could probably fit more in the same space if I was using a traditional bookshelf but I’d rather see the books and be inspired than store them away and hardly ever look at them.

Now that I’m getting on with my caravan makeover with renewed vigour after reading Vintage Caravan Style, why not check out my round-up blog post of the work I did on the caravan last year so that you can see the starting point and where I’m up to right now.

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Making magazines with Blurb’s BookWright: An interview with Trevor Ehle

Recently I got the chance to chat with Trevor Ehle, the Senior Product Manager at Blurb who’s been working on BookWright, Blurb’s great new way to make a book, but, more importantly, a magazine. I’ve always fancied making a Cassiefairy magazine, all about thrifty living and crafty projects and as an avid Blurb-user, I’m already familiar with the software (I made my Pieday Friday recipe book with it, below) but let me share his insider information about the new things you can do with Blurb that make it pretty easy to make a magazine—whether you’re an experienced designer or not:. Apparently, getting started with putting together the words and images for your magazine in BookWright is pretty much the same as making a book with Blurb—but there are some differences he said you should keep in mind before you get started. Take it away, Trevor:

Cassiefairys free pieday friday recipe book blurb ebook

  1. The magazine format has the option of printing images and or text on the inside of the front and back cover. We think this is a nice design addition that is exclusive to this print format. You’ll find it in the “Covers” section of BookWright. Continue reading “Making magazines with Blurb’s BookWright: An interview with Trevor Ehle” »

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