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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4 Low-cost + fun days out for the school holidays

We’re mid-way through the summer term and that means one thing – a sunny half term break with nothing to do! This is one of my favourite holidays of the school year, because it’s warm enough to get outside and enjoy last days of Spring, yet it’s not the over-priced days of the summer holidays when you’re likely to burn to a crisp if you venture out into the midday sun. I’ve shared a few ideas for fun days out on my blog this year so here’s my round-up of things to do during the half term holiday.Suffolk coastal travel guide southwold pier attraction-17Suffolk coastal travel guide southwold pier attraction-91. Go to the coast and enjoy some cheesy fun at the great British seaside. Eat ice-cream while sitting in a deck chair, feed 2ps into arcade machines and enjoy fish ‘n’ chips on the pier. Read my review of Southwold Pier and check out my ideas for a day out with the kids at Blackpool too.schol holiday ideas for half term summer 2015 blackpool travel tripsouthwold pier attraction suffolk seaside travel guide-162. Stay indoors on rainy days at a museum. Check out photos of my recent visit to the National Railway Museum in York and my tips for surviving a visit to the museum during the school holidays! If you’re planning to visit a museum during the holidays I’d recommend checking the website before setting off as they often plan special workshops for children during the school holidays and it can be a free way to get your kids interested in the exhibition. I visited the new ‘Shaping The Body’ exhibit at York Castle Museum and blogged about it at Easter. It’s a really fun exhibition (I loved the Victorian Street!) and they even having a dressing-up area for children.national railway museum york half term school holiday trip ideas and tips-6 york castle museum shaping the body exhibition exhibit school holidays day out trip

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UK Blog Awards 2016 Most Innovative Blog – And the winner is…

For the first time in almost 10 years of blogging I don’t know what to write. I finally understand what people mean when they say they are speechless – but I am wordless. I’ve never sat in front of a blank page and not known what to write. But today is different. Today I should be writing something important, meaningful and… well, I don’t know. But, so far, words escape me. I’m thrilled, chuffed and living in a dream. I literally woke up this morning and couldn’t be sure if it all really happened. But all the wonderful messages of congratulations that I scrolled through on twitter this morning confirmed it. I had won!uk blog award winner 2016 most innovative cassiefairy-3 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-29You see, yesterday was the UK Blog Awards 2016 and (after a long day at work) hubby and I had driven to London to attend the glitziest of awards ceremonies. Sponsored by Odeon cinemas and held in the ultra-swish Park Plaza hotel in Westminster, it was the most amazing event I’d ever been to. Themed around the magical story of The BFG by Roald Dahl, the venue was beautifully dressed with blossom trees and jars full of dreams. The BFG himself was even wandering around the venue, photo-bombing bloggers wherever he went. It honestly felt like I’d stepped into a dream, and that’s probably why I find it so hard to believe that my dream became a reality last blog awards ceremony 2016-14 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-11 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-8 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-6 Having already chosen ‘my winners’ for each category in the awards, I knew that I was up against the stiffest of competition and most inspirational of blogs. I knew I didn’t stand a chance of scooping an award so I was simply there to soak up the atmosphere, meet some of the wonderful women that I’d been collaborating with over the past year and to seek out some of my blogging inspirations. So you can understand my wordlessness when the opposite happened and judge Sandra Donskyte – my business hero – announced me as the winner of Most Innovative Blog. I was hoisted from my comfy “I’ll just sit here and watch” seat and gently encouraged onto the stage by my husband, where I whimpered (and probably swore!) my way through collecting the award. Thank goodness Sandra and Kate Russell were there to hold me up!uk blog awards ceremony 2016-18uk blog awards ceremony 2016-20 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-21 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-26There is no word to describe that moment. Nor any moment since. I guess that word hasn’t been invented yet because I can’t seem to find any word even remotely suitable in my vocabulary to tell you how I felt. So, in the absence of words (I honestly thought this blog post was going to be blank when I sat down to write a few minutes ago!) I’m going to have to let our photographs do the talking.

My swishy dress & red handbag are from Boden, my pretty (and all-night-long comfy!) pink shoes are from Hotter and my make-up is from

I met SO many wonderful bloggers last night and I had the chance to chat ‘in real life’ to many of the folk I email on an almost weekly basis. It was the chance to meet face-to-face that really made the night special and I loved every minute. I’m hoping to collaborate with many of the bloggers I met, so I’ll be sure to introduce them to you soon. Even now I keep asking my husband whether I did actually win; I’m worried that I went up on stage and collected someone else’s award! But no, it DOES have my name printed on it, so (as long as I keep it nearby so I can continue checking) I’ll start to believe it blog award winner 2016 most innovative cassiefairy uk blog awards ceremony 2016-19 uk blog award winner 2016 most innovative cassiefairy-2 uk blog awards ceremony 2016-29Thank you all so much for the years of support, for reading my blog, for sticking with me, for commenting, for tweeting and for being my friends. You guys rock!


British-inspired designs for the home

With talk of another royal baby on the way, I’ve come over all patriotic. Just like the Olympics and the Diamond Jubiliee before it, this has made me realise how great it is to be living in Britain! We are a multi-cultural nation with so many traditions, wonderful tourism in bustling cities yet secluded country towns, surrounded by stunning coastline with the breath-taking countryside views to boot. We’re a nation of animal lovers, enthusiastic queuers, our own monarchy and The Beatles. It’s safe to say we’re very spoilt on these little isles!

We all know I love a bit of decorating, especially when it involves crafting my own or sourcing amazing British products, so how can you embrace Britain in your home? Here are my ideas for a home the celebrates the UK in every way:

Look closer to home

Instead of immediately popping to IKEA (or other major home furnishing retailers that have been lucky enough not to be mentioned), do a little research and see what’s on offer closer to home. There are so many small to medium businesses out there that are British based AND source all their materials in the UK too. For example, I came across Jonny’s Sister. Based in the West Country, not only do they create vintage style home furnishings but you can get them personalised too. These make amazing gifts for loved ones (especially if you’re struggling finding something for Imagenewlyweds) and let’s not forget treating yourself too!personalised cannisters from jonnyssister

Image source Jonny’s Sister

Whether it’s your own biscuit tin to deter the partner and kids from your favourite snack or letter cushions to decorate an otherwise bland living room, personalised accessories will make your home feel even more cosy, and you’ll get the satisfaction of knowing that the items in your home are made here in the UK.

Pick up mementos wherever you go

A day at the beach is the perfect opportunity for some quirky home improvements. We have all seen my trick with the pebbles. Well, these can be added anywhere and everywhere, and are especially handy if you’re super organised like me! Pebbles and shells are simple yet effective decorations and give that rustic UK seaside look, but you can also go bold with buckets and spades to keep your herbs or bathroom toiletries in. The icing on the cake at the British seaside is coming across a great piece of driftwood; the possibilities are endless. Cleaned, varnished and painted with lettering the driftwood will look great as rustic signage. If you’re lucky enough to find a huge flat piece this could make a brilliant side table (if you wish to take on a little project) and smaller pieces could be cleaned and varnished for use as a centrepiece or a dinner party sharing tray.

Apollo Blinds Elegance Twilight - driftwood

 Image source

Red, white and blue

This can look a little overbearing when it comes to decorating a whole room but taking inspiration from our flag is a great starting point if you’re having a tough time knowing where to start. For example, white or cream walls (and rooms in general) can have spots of red and blue for a stylish finish. This could be just through the accessories such cushions, table decorations or you can take it one step further with striped blinds made in the UK such as these below to really add a splash of colour to the space.

Image source #ApolloTwilight

The kitchen is the perfectly place to really go for it when it comes inserting colour. Usually a room you tend to keep simple due to the clutter, as long as you’re organised, this could make a great impact! For example, the pots and pans can be a mixture of the same cherry red and cobalt blue with red and blue kettle, microwave and other accessories. Furthermore, what about mosaic tiling? Red and blue tiling across the back of your kitchen makes a strong statement and means you can keep the rest of the room fairly simple; thriftiness to the max!

Take inspiration from the seasons

We have such definable seasons in the UK, so this makes a great starting point for new decorating. Revamping your existing decor can be cost-effective and if you have kept each of your rooms as a basic template (cream walls and neutral furnishings), then adding those seasonal extras will be simple. We’re going into autumn and this is the best month to experiment with colour! Think nature with deep mahogany, reds, oranges and yellows for your accessories. You could bring the outdoors in again with conkers, pinecones and can even make a college from those gorgeous vibrant leaves you see scattering the pavements. I have a few squashes growing in the garden that I plan to use in a sideboard display this weekend. Anything to make my home feel cosy as the chilly nights drew nearer!

I hope that some of these ideas have inspired you to bring elements of the UK into your home and I’d love to hear your ideas for decorating a new home – please leave me a comment below and we’ll chat again soon! 🙂

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Another amazing year in the UK

Amazing news has just been announced that the Duchess of Cambridge has gone into labour this morning! The whole of the UK are waiting for the news that the new heir to the throne has been born and I cannot wait to find out whether it is a boy or a girl, a new king or another future queen! I’m sure there will be lots of speculation about the gender and the name of the royal child until all the official announcements are made later today (hopefully!).

This royal birth is really the culmination of another fantastic year in the UK. 2012 was a fantastic year and I thoroughly enjoyed the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations (see my photos below!) and had the best summer ever throwing myself into watching the London Olympics and counting up the gold medals, just like everyone else in the UK. It was a year to be proud to be British and we all thought that things couldn’t get any better.

Well, how about Andy Murray winning Wimbledon and becoming the first British winner of the men’s tournament since the famous Fred Perry all the way back in 1936 – that’s 77 years of defeat, brought to an end by our Olympic champion. Now that was a day to celebrate and Ladbrokes agreed by sending some lovely luxury picnic hampers to bloggers around the UK to celebrate and I was the lucky recipient of one of those hampers (below) – thanks very much! The yummy goodies certainly helped me to celebrate the tennis, and I’ll definitely be having another picnic feast to celebrate the royal birth!

It’s been a year of sporting triumphs, with England currently enjoying a 2-0 series lead in the Ashes, something that no English team has achieved in a home Ashes in 123 years. Plus news has just broken that Brit Chris Froome has won the Tour De France. Add that to Laura Robson’s great performance in the women’s tournament at Wimbledon (progressing further than any British female has in recent years – narrowly missing out becoming the first British woman to reach the quarter-finals since 1984!) and climbing to 27th rank in the world.

fortnum and mason hamper to celebrate prince william and duchess of cambridge royal baby heir

And earlier this month the UK celebrated the coronation festival to mark the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s official coronation, with a concert in the grounds of Buckingham Palace and broadcast on the BBC. Pretty much, it’s been another fantastic year for Great Britain and with news of the new royal baby about to break at any minute, things can only get better!

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The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch weekend

This weekend is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch – the world’s largest wildlife survey, which ask families in Britain to take an hour out of their weekend to keep an eye on the garden (or get out into the park) and count the number of birds that they see. I am heading to my mum’s house tomorrow to help her count the birds in her garden, and we’ll spend a lovely hour together drinking tea and spotting all the pretty birds that frequent her garden. What a relaxing way to spend the weekend!

birds rspb big garden bird watch image

The RSPB have put together a tick-sheet to help you record the number of birds that you see in the garden – including images of the bird breeds, so you know what to look out for. To download and print this sheet  click on the image below, which will open up the PDF page directly from the RSPB website and you can use it to carry out your own bird-count with the family this weekend.

rspb big garden birdwatch print sheet

There are plenty of organised RSPB events running throughout the country this weekend at RSPB reserves and in parks – check out the website here to get involved.

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