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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Tuesday Shoesday – Our his ‘n’ hers walking shoes & a ramble around the castle on the hill

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Hubby and I celebrated a day early because it was a really sunny day yesterday and we wanted to take advantage of the lovely weather and go for a walk. So we bundled up with our coats, scarves and gloves (it might have been sunny, but it was still a little nippy!) and headed out into the Suffolk countryside for a walk.We planned our walk around Framlingham Castle – Ed Sheeran’s ‘castle on the hill’ – so that we could take some photos of the stunning landmark in the winter sunshine. I’d been inspired to enjoy a low-cost day out after reading an article full of ideas for Valentine’s Day on a budget, so a walk (with a packed lunch!) was just the ticket. With it being half term (and a ‘Knights and Princesses’ event taking place inside the castle) it was a busy spot for a Monday morning, but all the other walkers we met were in good spirits. What I didn’t bargain for was just how muddy the paths around the picturesque mere would be. At least it gave us a chance to test out our new walking shoes – this terrain certainly put them through their paces. If my feet could stay comfortable and dry in this environment, then I’m pretty sure that the shoes will stand up to anything we throw at them in the future.

When my husband suggested walking around the castle moat, I was hesitant. I wasn’t planning on going for a paddle! He insisted that it was a ‘dry moat’ (well, I’ve never heard of a dry moat before, have you?!) so we climbed down the stairs and fair enough, it was pretty dry… as far as moats go.Interestingly enough, there were some lovely views from the moat looking up at the walls of the castle. It feels really imposing from below and the blue sky set off the stone castle walls beautifully. Even looking back into the sunshine created some really impressive silhouettes of the ancient walls.

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Tuesday Shoesday – Quality vs price in mens footwear

Just what IS the difference between a £25 pair of boots and a £250 pair? Can the higher priced pair really be that much better than the cheapy shoes? For some reason, there’s a big difference in this area between mens and womens shoes (proably something to do with the construction of ladies shoes) so today I’m focusing on menswear in this price v quality comparison. I’ve done my research and found out why some boots are worth so much more than others and that’s what I’d like to share with you this Tuesday Shoesday.It’s easy to say that the quality of the shoes is simply better in the higher priced pair but in what way specifically? I focused my research on Joseph Cheaney & Sons, who are Britain’s oldest boot and shoemakers. They produce handmade footwear for Boden, Shackleton Company and Herring to name just a few, and the price is definitely at the upper end of the scale. So let’s have a look at this producer and find out what goes into a pair of their boots.The first thing to note is that their footwear is still handmade. Okay, the product is made in a factory environment but it’s in Northampton, not China, and each stage of the process involves a real person handling the boots, not just a machine. In fact, each pair of boots goes through more than 200 hand-tooled processes and takes over eight weeks to ‘build’. When you hear the phrase ‘built to last’ this is probably what it means! Just to be clear, this isn’t a promotional blog post for Cheaney and Sons – although I’d be doing a good job if it was! – I’m just using them as an example of a traditional bootmaker that is still creating handmade items here in the UK and comparing them to the cheaper end of the footwear market.All I know for sure is that my husband’s shoes last years longer if they’re £100+ leather shoes from Clarks or Boden, or if they’re £300+ handmade boots from Shackleton. But when he wears supermarket or high street shoes, it’s barely a matter of months before they are worn through with holes that let in the rain, and have cracked, broken or flapping soles. So it must be the production method that make all the difference, right? That, and the quality of the materials too.So, back at Cheaney and Sons, the uppers are all made in genuine leather and the rubber soles are made by Goodyear. Yes, the tyre people. That probably explains why these soles don’t wear through like the cheap plastic versions in the budget fashion stores. If it’s good enough for a car, it’s probably okay for my husband’s feet! The soles of Clarks shoes also wear really well, and quite often the colour and condition of the shoes is what ‘gives up’ before the soles do. In fact, I made a video about giving my husband’s Clarks blue suede shoes a makeover with fabric dye, which goes to show that although the colour faded, the shoes were still absolutely fine to wear and could be brought back to life with just a little bit of effort (and some dye!)The same goes with real leather shoes – if you look after them and ‘feed’ them with polish, the leather will stay supple for many years. And the longevity of these higher-priced shoes is actually what makes them the ‘thrifty’ option. Okay, I know it doesn’t seem thrifty to splash out hundreds of pounds on a pair of boots, but if you’re sure that they are the style, colour and fit for you, they will probably last you a lifetime. And if they do, just imagine how low the cost-per-wear would be after just 10 years of wearing them! If you pulled on a pair of £300 boots every day it would be 0.08p per wear by the time the decade was over, and the boots would probably still be fine for at least another 10 years too.Still, as such a bargain hunter I really struggle to part with my cash all at once. It’s a difficult one to call, but when my husband can get through 4 pairs of £20 shoes in a year, yet his £100 Clarks shoes have survived 3 years without complaint, I think that the sums kind of add up in favour of the ‘investment’ footwear brands. Let me know if you have any experience of high prices vs bargain shoes and what you think is best by leaving me a comment below. And if you’re interested in watching my suede dying video – here it is:


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Tuesday Shoesday – Blue suede boots for autumn

I’ve never seen an autumn like it. There are so many leaves on the ground at the moment that you can’t really see the grass anymore. The colours are so vibrant and I’m sure there are more shades of orange, red, green, yellow and brown in this year’s fallen leaves than ever before. And with a garden covered in beautiful autumn leaves like this, who wouldn’t go outside for a spot of leave-kicking at the weekend? Well, that’s what I did anyway!autumn-shoes-blue-suede-boots-kicking-leaves-fashion-trend-winterMy husband did the most adorable thing and raked the leaves into the shape of a heart. And then even went to the trouble of spelling out the word autumn across the middle. He’s a creative sort and knows how much I love this time of year. I’m pretty sure that’s why he did it, and not just to get a great Instagram photo for himself. Anyway, after he’d finished taking some snaps, I had the best fun kicking my way through the words and destroying the whole thing, bwahahahha!autumn-kicking-leaves-gifAs it’s Tuesday Shoesday I felt it would be appropriate to share some snaps of my new autumn boots at the same time. After my trusty brown boots finally crumbled after two years of constant wear, I decided it was time for a new pair. I wanted them to last me well, but look a little more cool than I usually choose. Plus, I needed my shoes to come in under my £20 budget too. That’s not too much to ask is it? Well, apparently yes, it is.autumn-shoes-blue-suede-boots-kicking-leaves-fashion-trend-winter-8I had trouble finding a pair of boots that did everything I needed. I mean, I just wanted some boots with a small heel, speedy zip fastening (I’ve no time for laces these days), in lovely faux suede or leather, and in this year’s hottest colour navy blue. After shopping around it started to look like my thrifty budget wasn’t going to stretch to a new pair of boots for me this year. However, when I hopped onto the Deichmann website I found rows and rows of shoes and boots, with most of them priced at £20 and under.autumn-shoes-blue-suede-boots-kicking-leaves-fashion-trend-winter-4I perked up a bit at this point and clicked through out their most recent collection for Autumn/Winter 2017. Wahey! Boots! Wedge boots, Chelsea boots, ankle boots and knee-high boots. And not just boots; my favourite shoe style brogues were available in patent navy blue too. But that’s not what I was there for. I stuck to my shopping list and looked only at the ankle boots section. My will-power is strong.autumn-shoes-blue-suede-boots-kicking-leaves-fashion-trend-winter-3 Continue reading “Tuesday Shoesday – Blue suede boots for autumn” »


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Tuesday Shoesday – My week in #FloorSelfies

When I first heard about the #FloorSelfie challenge, I found myself getting a little excited. Not only do I love a good photo challenge, but I also love shoes, and taking photos of my feet for a week sounded like great fun. No need for any special equipment to get involved with this challenge; I simply charged up my phone and snapped a photo whenever the thought entered my mind. By the end of the week I’m pretty sure that I’d started to search out more interesting floors with fun colours or patterns, or maybe it was simply the fact that I was noticing the floor more often . How often do we look down, really? We’re missing interesting designs and even art by keeping our heads up. Anyway, enough rambling – here are my favourite shoe photos from the week and little bit about the location to go with them:

Excuse the pun but I ‘kick started’ my week of #FloorSelfies with a day out at the seaside. And we enjoyed ourselves so much that we actually went back to the coast the day after too. I snapped some photos on the beach and almost soaked my toes by trying to get the Tuesday Shoesday snap above when the tide came in. The traditional walk along the promenade followed, with me dribbling over beach huts that I could never afford, followed by a big hot chocolate to warm up. The second day we went to Southwold Pier and had fun playing air hockey and winning 2ps in the arcade. Something I hadn’t noticed before was that the pier has footprints painted on the deck all along the length of the pier. Don’t follow them though – some of the footprints head right off the side of the pier! I found a set of flipper footprints and snapped this fun #FloorSelfie.

One of the most exciting thing to happen to me this week was something that I couldn’t really photograph. My husband had been picked in a ballot to go to a recording of a TV special in Elstree Studios. With the performance being ‘top secret’ and absolutely no cameras allowed, it was hard for me to get a photo but I wanted to record the day out nonetheless. Here’s the fabulous wooden floor in the entrance to Elstree Studios and it’s the very same spot where I later met Tim Peake and Professor Brian Cox. Yes, I got a selfie with an astronaut! Best. Moment. Ever. And I managed to give Brian Cox a pair of ChattyFeet’s Prof. Brian Sox socks, which he found hilarious. Oh, you’ll notice a different pair of shoes in this shot – they are my favourite Hush Puppy flats the rub a little on the heel so aren’t great for wearing all day long. The following day we took a walk in the countryside and noticed just how autumnal everything is – leaves are turning brown and conkers are falling. Must remember to go blackberry picking this week before it’s too late.

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Tuesday Shoesday – How to make your footwear last forever..!

With wet weather comes muddy boots and just having tidemarks from tiptoeing through puddles is enough to make you feel like a right mess, even though the rest of your outfit is perfectly clean. So if you find yourself caught in an April shower, just take a moment to give your shoes a quick wipe with a damp cloth when you get home. This simple action could be enough to lift your spirits on a grey day – and it might make you feel better about the way you look – as looking after your garments when you get home guarantees you’ll look your best the next time you head out the door.polishing shoesLeaving mud to dry on leather is pretty bad, and can actually damage your boots, creating cracks and horrid stains. So whether you’ve spent a fortune on those leather boots or have even just picked them up from a car-boot sale it makes sense to prolong their life by giving them a quick polish.IMG_6334You don’t need any special equipment; just one pot of clear shoe polish will clean up every pair of shoes you own. You can buy a brush if you wish or just use a soft nail brush or even an old toothbrush to apply the polish. Spread it all over your footwear and pay attention to any faded or well-worn areas. Now here’s another money-saving tip…How to polish your new leather shoes to keep them protected and clean Continue reading “Tuesday Shoesday – How to make your footwear last forever..!” »


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Tuesday Shoesday – Knee-high v ankle boots

It’s the age-old question: knee-high or ankle? Which type of boots do you prefer? If you only had the money to buy one pair of boots to last you forever, which would you choose? Come on, no sitting on the fence: these boots were made for walking, so which pair will it be? To tell you the truth, I’m undecided. Which is precisely why I decided to compare the two today, and to hopefully find out which is the ‘ultimate’ length for a pair of classic black boots.tuesday shoesday knee high boots v ankle boots blog reviewTest 1 – Wearing with dresses

It really depends what kind of look you’re going for however I tend to lean towards knee-high boots in this test. They made legs look slimmer and make small feet look bigger, thereby balancing out your hips. They can be worn with or without tights and can either make casual dresses look dressier, or formal dresses look more relaxed. I just prefer having my calves covered when wearing a skirt with a pair of flat boots: I feel like I look less ‘stumpy’ with knee-highs compared to a flat pair of ankle boots. Even so, ankle boots will work with dresses too – 90s grunge and the look I call ‘blogger chic’ relies heavily on ankle boots with skirts. Remember Doc Martens, 40 denier tights and button-up floral dresses? And that was just me last year..! Hoho I jest of course – that was my favourite 90s look – but I still hanker after it even now at my age. Ankle boots and tights are a rebellious combo. In fact, thinking about it, knee-high boots are rather rebellious too. Argh, it’s a tough one to call.

tuesday shoesday knee high boots v ankle boots review-2

Knee-high boots from Online Avenue

tuesday shoesday knee high boots v ankle boots review-3Test 2 – Wearing with trousers

Of course, if we’re talking ‘normal’ width trousers, ankle boots will come out on top every time. You can go tucking a standard pair of trousers into knee-high boots: it’ll look like you’re wearing pantaloons. That is unless Puss-In-Boots is your style icon. In this case, ankle boots are a must for wearing beneath trousers, and are especially good with a heel that gives you extra height and allows your trouser leg to hang properly. However, if we’re talking skinny jeans, knee-high boots quickly gain the lead. Again, ‘blogger chic’ means that skinny jeans can be tucked into ankle boots (with a heel preferably), but I’m sure we can all agree that skinny jeans tucked into knee-high boots is a timeless look, can’t we? Again, they take your casual jeans and turn them into something that’s suitable for wearing on a night out. Which takes us nicely onto test 3…

tuesday shoesday knee high boots v ankle boots blog review-7tuesday shoesday knee high boots v ankle boots review-8Dolcis ankle boots from Wynsors

tuesday shoesday knee high boots v ankle boots review-5 Continue reading “Tuesday Shoesday – Knee-high v ankle boots” »


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Weekend DIY project – Welly boot plant pots

Everybody knows wellington boots are an amazing accessory for any wet day, but unfortunately we tend to find ourselves only wearing them a handful of times throughout the year. As a result of this, especially with the little ones, the next time you go to pop them on they’re too small. Well, if you find this to be the case then don’t worry, you can make yourself some welly planters! What better way to not only add a little fun to your garden, but to recycle too! Here’s a guide on how you can make your wellies into fun little plant pots and add a little extra colour to your garden.welly boot DIY project_-9

Make your own DIY planter from recycled wellies!

Before you begin making your welly planters, there’s a few things you’ll need:

  • Wellington Boots
  • A Drill
  • Compost
  • Seeds
  • Watering Can
  • Stones or Pebbles
  • Waterproof labels (if you wish to label your plants)

Now you have everything you need, you can get started. Make sure you wash your wellington boots with warm water and a little soap, just to give them a freshen up. Dry them off with an old tea towel and then you’re good to go. You can use new wellington boots if your current ones still fit, that’s up to you, but I’d recommend going rummaging at the carboot sale to pick up a used pair for pennies! Next, remove any insoles or liners that are inside the wellington boots, as we need as much space as we can get.

Hold the wellington from the bottom, sole facing upwards (and use a clamp on a workbench to hold it in place!) while you drill a few small holes around the edges of the boot and a couple on the sole. This will make sure that when you water your plants, the water drains out evenly and the compost will be able to breathe. Fill the bottom of the wellington with some stones or pebbles, this is to weigh the welly down so that if there are any blustery days, your new planter will be less likely to fall over. Also, having stones at the bottom will make it that little bit easier for the water to drain out, as there will be room between the compost and the holes.

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Tuesday Shoesday – What shoes to wear with the cropped denim trend

Cropped jeans are everywhere right now. And it’s no surprise really. They’re ideal for those Spring days when it’s too chilly for a skirt or shorts but sunny enough that you want to show some skin. So are just perfect at this time of year. But how on earth do you wear this kind of length? I remember wearing a lot of cropped trousers around the turn of the century (that sounds soooo historical – but I mean the 2000s not the 1900s!) and I’m not sure I got away with it back then.cropped denim spring fashion trend shoes tuesday shoesday inspiration from trilogy stores sandals

One brand who’ve nailed the cropped denim S/S16 look is Trilogy Stores

Okay, ‘youngsters’ tend to get away with fashion trends more and back in the 00s I was definitely a ‘youth’. Even so, it wasn’t the best look on 5ft 2inch me. So I’m not sure that I’m any more likely to look good in the cropped denim trend now, after adding 16 years and no additional height. Which is why I wanted to take a look at footwear that would suit the trend and perhaps find a way of wearing a cropped length that doesn’t make me look too stumpy or ‘try-hard’. Here’s what I came up with:cropped denim spring fashion trend tuesday shoesday inspiration from trilogy stores

I think I prefer cropped denim with ankle boots Trilogy stores.

Ankle boots are definitely an important part of getting this look just right. They are the footwear of choice on colder days when you don’t want to match the stonewashed blue shade of your jeans to your chilly blue toes. You can keep warm with some cosy socks underneath those funky boot and, if they’re high enough, even tuck the cropped trousers into the top of the boots to lock the warmth in. Okay, that probably defeats the idea of wearing cropped jeans, but at least you’ve got that option when the wind starts whipping around your ankles. Boots keep the look practical with a sensible heel height and you can stride through puddles with a ‘lets get on with it’ sense of abandon. Bonus fashion points are earned by flashing a slither of skin between the top of the boot and the bottom of the cropped denim. This shows that you actually ARE doing the cropped trend and that the-cold-never-bothered-you-anyway.cropped denim spring fashion trend heels court shoes tuesday shoesday inspiration from trilogy stores

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Tuesday Shoesday – The Boots Buying Bible

In today’s Tuesday Shoesday blog post I wanted to share a buying guide for boots and document the history of some of the world’s most fashionable styles. Trends may come and go but true style remains constant, so investing in a timeless design or a footwear classic will ensure you’ll get years of use out of your investment. I’m all about the “cost-per-wear” so I want my boots to look fabulous for longer than just one season. I therefore prefer to steer away from “must have” shoes and take a look at more traditional styles instead. Today’s post shares the history of some heritage boot designs and why they remain popular after all these years.Jones-Bootmaker-Boots-ankle bootAnkle boots

The popularity of ankle boots skyrocketed in the 1850s as a means of preserving a woman’s modesty. Showing the ankle was deemed ‘improper’ in Victorian society, so this style became both practical and fashionable. Throughout the era the boots became more casual to accommodate the increasingly active lifestyles of the period’s women. Over time the popularity of the boots continued to grow, adapting to incorporate various trends throughout the decades.Jones-Bootmaker-Boots-Bible-knee high bootKnee-high boots

Originally, knee-high boots were reserved for practical uses, such as horse riding and field work. However, in the early 20th century, knee-high boots made the transition into the world of fashion when Denise Poiret, wife of leading French fashion designer Paul Pioret, wore a pair of knee-high leather boots in 1913. It wasn’t until the 1960s that the popularity of the boots truly rocketed – something which has continued throughout the ages.Jones-Bootmaker-Boots-Bible-knee high boot 60s 70s 80s 90sChelsea boots Continue reading “Tuesday Shoesday – The Boots Buying Bible” »


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Tuesday Shoesday – My 2016 Essentials (at the lowest possible price!)

When you’re a thrifty kinda gal who doesn’t really want to splash out her hard-earned cash on pricey pumps where do you shop for shoes? I’ve made no secret of the fact that I want to spend less this year, (so that I’ve got more to save for the house of my dreams!) so now that I need some new shoes for the new year, I don’t want to blow the budget. Low-cost loafers are definitely ‘my bag’, people!

The trouble is, I’m also trying to clear out all the clutter from my tiny over-stuffed home. I want to streamline my wardrobe and clear out the 80% of things that hide at the back, never being worn (I wrote about my thrifty tips for making the most of your wardrobe last week). So that means that I don’t really want to be re-cluttering with a selection of shoes that I won’t get round to wearing either. No matter how much of a bargain a pair of pumps are, I won’t buy them unless they fulfil a need. I’ve got too many ‘pretty’ shoes sitting around that I’ve never worn but am completely lacking in terms of practical boots, trainers or wellies!countryside field muddy photograph tuesday shoesday welliesSo, that’s what I’ve been shopping for online this week. When you spot a gap in your shoe-wardrobe like that, you’ve got to fill it, right?! Living in a particularly muddy part of the countryside, I need wellies. If I want to go on any kind of countryside walks this year (and believe me, I do) I’m destined to come home with clods of mud stuck to the bottom of my pumps. Yes, this did happen to me at the weekend and the photo above is a footpath near my house. So wellies are clearly needed. They don’t need to be anything fancy, but they do need to be waterproof. I found the lowest prices for the wellies above at Brantano and I think I’m going to invest in these classic green Dunlop wellington boots. A timeless style and traditional colour won’t date so I can use them for years to come, and I especially love the £14 price-tag!tuesday shoesday coastal walks trainers pumps casual shoesI also managed to ruin my last pair of canvas trainers by wandering onto a muddy footpath. It looked fine at the start of the track, but ended up taking me across a very moist field. No amount of cleaning could remove the muddy tidemarks from my trainers. I don’t want to get put off walking completely, so now that I’ve got the wellies sorted, I’m sure I’ll be fine. But in the meantime, I need one pair of comfortable pumps for day-to-day wear; wandering around town and coastal promenades, that sort of thing. Continue reading “Tuesday Shoesday – My 2016 Essentials (at the lowest possible price!)” »

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