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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One week, no jeans challenge

We all have a style uniform, don’t we? A particular style of outfit that you pull on day-in-day-out without really thinking about it. For me, it’s comfy jeans combined with a jumper in winter and the same jeans rolled up with a t-shirt in the summer. I reach for my skinny jeans instinctively every morning because I know they work with whatever top I want to wear and whatever footwear is needed to tackle the weather outside. Perhaps you have favourite pair of jeans too, or a coat you can’t be without, or a piece of clothing you love so much you buy it in bulk and you have it in every colour?one week no jeans outfit challenge holiday travel packing outfit inspiration fashion ideas spring summer 2016We’re all guilty of sticking to what’s comfortable, but the team at George want to challenge us to mix up your #styleYOUniform by setting you a challenge: one week, no jeans. “It can’t be done!” I hear you cry. We’ll I took up the challenge last week and I wanted to share how I got on with my little ‘experiment’. After wearing blue jeans practically every day for a year (except special occasions) I wanted to at least try to shed my style uniform and mix it up with some new outfit choices. Plus, I wanted to do it with just four items of clothing – being thrifty and making the most of my wardrobe is my kinda thing..! george clothing one week no jeans challenge holiday outfits

These are the items I’ve chosen for my one week, no jeans challenge from George, with a few extra accessories from my own wardrobe thrown in for good measure.

Considering that the weather is warming up I wanted to try uncovering my legs and slipping into some dresses and skirts for the week. There was a time, only a couple of years ago, when I would wear dresses all the time. A dress was my #styleYOUniform because it was so easy to wear – you only needed to make on choice in the morning: with or without tights. So feels a little strange to me to be ‘going back in time’ to my uni days by wearing a dress all week. Even so, the ease of getting ready with a dress was still there and I just added a couple of other items to make sure I had enough to rework my outfits to get me through a whole week. I think this would be great if you were going on holiday – just imagine how much room you’d have in your suitcase if you only packed these few items! one week no jeans outfit challenge holiday travel packing_The first outfit is a Monday ‘back to work’ outfit. A day of meetings calls for a smart tailored blazer and fitted skirt. I wore my white cardigan buttoned up beneath the blazer, but a crisp white shirt would look equally neat for a day in the office. My tasselled shoes in a neutral colour have a mid-height chunky heel so they are comfortable enough for a full day’s work. I removed the long strap from my shoulder bag to use it as a handbag, and turned it so that the non-tasselled side was showing for a smarter look. It’s big enough to hold notebooks, my laptop and all the business essentials I need to carry with me. All in all, a very successful, smart look for a hard day’s work.one week no jeans outfit challenge holiday travel packing_-4The second outfit is a ‘daytime date’ look. I wore the dress as a skirt, with the cardigan buttoned up over the top as a jumper. I dressed up this more casual look with a pretty necklace that my bestie gave me for my birthday and my tasselled heels. Again, I took off the long strap from my handbag and carried it tassel-side-out to add a touch of playfulness. Love the ditsy print of this dress and it’s definitely a cute look for a date.one week no jeans outfit challenge holiday travel packing_-6 Continue reading “One week, no jeans challenge” »


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Relationship tips for Valentine’s Day & beyond

Yesterday I read a newly launched article (and challenge!) about getting and staying close to the one you love; 27 Expert tips to be closer to you spouse. The article taps into the knowledge of experts from the fields of psychology, relationships, counselling and health care, asking each professional to share advice on maintaining a long and happy relationship. With Valentine’s Day coming up next week, I was intrigued and decided to read on to find out what the pros had to say!27Ways_Main_TwitterThe article shares lots of sound advice for good communication, building trust and managing arguments, all of which would prove very useful within a relationship. The experts are sharing tips on social media each day throughout February and have challenged readers to try out a tip each day to ensure a loved-up month. I like the idea of joining in with a month of challenges, especially when we’re all thinking about love this Valentine’s Day – wouldn’t it be lovely to take the romance with us into the year ahead? The article not only focuses on the psychological aspect of relationships, it also shares some fun ideas for activities and romantic things to do together too.27 tips for being closer to your spouseAside from the focus on couples, the tips were actually applicable for all kinds of communication, such as with friends, family and children. I was actually more interested in the tips that could be applied to different areas of life and they really made me think about the way I interact with others. Continue reading “Relationship tips for Valentine’s Day & beyond” »


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My Segway adventure & tips for visiting Thetford Forest

school summer holiday activity high lodge thetford forest segway adventure go ape review-17This week I enjoyed an exhilarating challenge in Thetford Forest – a Segway adventure – and I’d love to share some photos of my day out with you. I’m hoping that this post will serve as inspiration for your own summer adventure and give you some tips for surviving a day out at High Lodge Forestry Commission during the school holidays. It’s an amazing location and there are plenty of fun and free activities to enjoy so please read on for my top tips!school summer holiday activity high lodge thetford forest segway adventure go ape review-11The location of High Lodge in the heart of Thetford Forest is truly magical. Not only are there plenty of woodland habitats to explore but there are also stunning clearings within the forest and an exciting ‘base camp’ at High Lodge where families can enjoy a great day out. This is where I kicked off my challenge on a sunny Friday morning.school summer holiday activity high lodge thetford forest segway adventure go ape review-9Considering it was the middle of the school holidays the destination didn’t feel at all over-crowded. I think this is down to the acres and acres of forest that can be explored and I expect that many families were therefore out of site during most of my visit. Even so, the picnic areas were never full, there was always a bench, seat or table available and the café was far from busy, even at lunchtime. That said, there were plenty of activities on offer for families to enjoy throughout the day at High Lodge – such as outdoor table tennis under the trees, a volleyball court and the best play-area I’ve ever seen! And that’s before you even start exploring the woods. Here are my tips and suggestions for a great day out during the school holidays:school summer holiday activity high lodge thetford forest segway adventure go ape review-41. Take a picnic. There are SO many places you can enjoy your food at High Lodge with benches galore and a massive lawn to lay down your rugs and get out the sandwiches. If you fancy a cuppa while you’re there Tetley tea is around £1.60 per cup and ‘real’ coffee at £2.10. The rubbish facilities are fantastic. Okay, I know that’s not usually something to shout about but they recycle 90% of everything thrown away at High Lodge. I found that really impressive!school summer holiday activity high lodge thetford forest segway adventure go ape review

Continue reading “My Segway adventure & tips for visiting Thetford Forest” »


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Live Fearless

Last week I was invited to join in with a fantastic campaign which encourages women to Live Fearless and I jumped at the chance to take part. As someone who truly advocates going for your dreams and being the best version of yourself, I was delighted that Bodyform picked me as one of their bloggers to take part in a Live Fearless challenge. They believe that women shouldn’t hold themselves back in life, whether it’s taking a daring career step, or simply trying something new and according to their survey nearly half of women admit that just saying ‘yes’ to a new challenge makes them feel ‘fearless’. I completely agree and I said ‘yes’ straight away, without any clue about what the challenge would be. When my challenge pack arrived in the post I was delighted and couldn’t wait to get started! Live Fearless bodyform challenge

With 41% of women agreeing that culinary experiences appeal to them most, Bodyform was keen to challenge me to try something new the next time I go out for a meal. I always find myself going to the same places when I’m eating out and I almost don’t even need to look at the menu any more because I pretty-much know what I’m going to eat before I even sit down! Although I’d never really thought about it before, just saying this out loud sounds monotonous and boring to me and I’ve already started to feel more adventurous. It seems like a waste of my time and money if I’m choosing the same meal each time I go out when surely I should be trying something new or going to a different restaurant?Live Fearless bodyform challenge-2Bodyform has challenged me to ‘venture far and go somewhere you’ve never been before’ for my next meal out and although there were plenty of choices in my nearest town, such as Ask Italian, Nandos or Pizza Express, I wanted to follow the brief properly and instead of taking the ‘easy’ option I’m planning a trip to Jamie’s Italian in Norwich. I’m such a huge fan of Jamie Oliver (yes, I’ve already been watching my Jamie’s Christmas DVD to plan my festive meal!) and it would be really exciting to try the dish that Jamie and Genaro Contaldo have created – I’m especially keen to try Gennaro’s tagliatelle Bolognese and found out how a real Bolognese should taste!

jamie oliver italian norwich

Jamie’s Italian in the Royal Arcade, Norwich – image from Thetford & Brandon Times

Okay, it’s a lot further away to travel to Norwich so it’ll take me longer to complete the challenge, especially as I’m already struggling to find a spare day between now and Christmas, but it’ll be a treat to travel to a distant location, do a bit of exploring around the city’s landmarks and enjoy the bustle of the famous market. Just knowing that this trip is on the cards is making me very excited and I can’t wait to try out something new when I visit Jamie’s Italian – perhaps some antipasti that I’ve never eaten before, such as salami and fennel. I will be sure to let you know how I get on with my adventurous meal and share some snaps of my visit soon!Live Fearless bodyform challenge-3

What have you done to Live Fearless recently? Have you been somewhere new or tried out something you’ve never done before? Do you have a big career move on the horizon or have you booked a far-flung holiday? Please let me know how you are living your life to the full and leave me a comment below or get involved with the conversation on Twitter by using the hashtag #LiveFearless. Plus there are plenty of changes to win fantastic prizes for Living Fearlessly so check out the @bodyform profile on Twitter too and keep an eye out for more chances to win!

 


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The Great British Sewing Bee – My shirt challenge

So do you think it’s the only thing worth watching on TV these days? Are you loving The Great British Sewing Bee like I am? I’m a big fan and it really makes me want to get back behind the sewing machine and start making again! I happily sat and absorbed the first show but didn’t really feel all that inspired to start stitching. HOWEVER, during the second week my imagination sparked into life during the shirt challenge and I knew I wanted to give it a go myself.

In the second episode challenge the contestants could choose two patterned shirts and make them into anything they wanted. There were a lot of skirts and baby dresses made but not much in the way of shirts. I know that the judges wanted to see something innovative but I couldn’t help thinking how simple and cool it would be to swap the arms and collar of one shirt for another. So the idea bubbled away in my mind and I found myself flicking through my husband’s wardrobe to see what items of clothing I could nab for my project.

Great British Sewing Bee episode 2 shirt challenge

Luckily (or sadly, whichever way you look at it) my husband has two shirts that are beyond repair – one has yellow paint splashed down the front and the other is worn away at the collar. Perfect for my project, I say! I’ve photographed the two shirts above before getting to work hacking off the sleeves, collar and pocket of each shirt to get the pieces I needed to create a mix-n-match shirt.

I stitched the grey arms into the white arm holes without checking if I’d put the arms in the correct side (this is why I wouldn’t do at all well on the Sewing Bee – too lazy!) but when I came to check the sleeves – phew – they were in the right place. I’m so jammy! I’d left a little extra of the white collar as a hem to attach the grey collar to but it looked messy after I’d stitched it on with one row of straight stitching so I added a second row which pulled it all together and looked much neater.

Great British Sewing Bee episode 2 shirt challenge finished

Finally, and extra lazily, I stitched the grey pocket on top of the white pocket so now the shirt has a double-layered pocket on the front – so it can hold lots more pens etc – very practical, I reckon! Of course I forced hubby into the shirt and although it looks a bit like Wee Willy Winkie’s nightshirt, it fitted well and I think it looks kinda funky! Anyway, I completed the shirt challenge yesterday – a whole week after the show – just in time for the next episode and the t-shirt challenge to be set. I just need to find a big jersey t-shirt and I’ll be getting started! Have you been making anything from the show? Has it inspired you to stitch your own goodies yet? Let me know 🙂


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Dream a little dream… Pillow talk

This week I’ve been putting memory foam pillows to the test to see whether I can get a better night sleep with a more supportive pillow. If you’ve been following my sleep challenge you’ll know that it has now turned into a massive bedroom makeover – I’ve even wallpapered my walls with books. Today, I’m going back to the root of the challenge, which is improving my sleep as a whole, and not just decorating!

sleep challenge memory foam pillows from dunelm

I’ve tried out these memory foam pillows from Dunelm and to begin with they felt really heavy and dense – much ‘sturdier’ than my old bounce-back pillows. I have to be pretty careful with the type of pillow that I sleep on – some pillows simply no good for my neck which has previously suffered from whiplash. Any pillow that isn’t ‘my’ pillow, such as hotels, or staying at friends’ houses results in a painful crick in the neck which can last for days. So I was skeptical about changing my pillows, especially to one that seemed harder and more likely to push my dodgy neck into an uncomfortable position.

dunelm sleep challenge memory foam pillows

Oh how wrong I was. I have had nothing but good nights’ sleep on these pillows and I wake up feeling as if I haven’t even got a neck, and definitely no pain. The memory foam supports my neck in exactly the right position and my head feels practically weightless. I find that I move around less during the night and the pillows bounce right back into their puffed-up shape in the morning. So no problems to report and definitely a better, deeper sleep – plus less pain than I’ve ever experience to date, so that can only be a good thing and I’ll be taking these pillows with me wherever I sleep from now on!

Here are some more of the top tips I’ve been following by Dunelm to make the most of my sleep routine:

  1. Make sure that you have the right pillow for how you sleep. For example, people who sleep on their front usually need a softer pillow than people who sleep on their side. Here’s our guide to picking the right pillow for you: http://www.dunelm-mill.com/info/pillows
  2. Help increase your melatonin production by wearing a sleep mask to block out extra light
  3. If you find yourself awake, try to focus on relaxing as your goal, rather than falling back to sleep. Remind yourself that deep relaxation can still help rejuvenate the body
  4. If you’re prone to drifting off on the sofa in front of the TV, resist the drowsiness by doing something like washing the dishes or sorting things out for the next day – or take yourself off to bed straight away if it’s nearly your bedtime. If you nod off you may find it harder to sleep all through the night
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My ‘use-up’ challenge – a good clear-out

Over the past  few weeks I’ve been making a concerted effort to stop buying new products and use up what I already have. Click to read my blog post about the challenge I set for myself and now that we’re getting towards the end of October, I wanted to share my progress. As you can see from the photos below, these are the products that I was hoping to use up at the start of the challenge, and the bottom photo shows that I have already used up even more products by sticking to using my half-empty goodies. I still have the hair treatment and hand-cream on the go (I guess I only use a little at a time) and I’ve been slowing working my way through the next batch of half-used products.

cassiefairy money saving use up make up and beauty challenge

And this has got me thinking about clearing out some of my clothes too. Now, I don’t know anyone who is the same size as me so it’s hard to pass things on, and you know I hate waste so I certainly won’t be throwing things out. It would be great if I ended up making a little extra money through this challenge – you know, to replace all the products that I’ve used up! But I really don’t like the idea of selling my lovely clothing at a carboot sale. Even though I love to shop at carboot sales, I don’t like the idea of packing up a car with my stuff in practically the middle of the night, to go to a cold carboot sale – plus I hate that moment when you first open up your boot and traders are almost jumping into your car to rummage through your stuff before you’ve even unpacked it. Yes, I have done carboot sales before, and yes this has happened to me. So I thought about alternative ways to sell my clothes and I discovered that MusicMagpie even buy your clothes online now too. I remember using their service to sell off some of my dvds and cds while I was at uni and needed extra cash, so I know how easy it the process would be. I am therefore going to give myself a couple of hours to rummage through my wardrobe, drag out anything that doesn’t fit me anymore or that I know I’m never going to wear and finally get rid of them in return for a nice cheque to put towards Christmas (or more beauty treats for me!)


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My little vintage caravan project ~ the first thing I’ve made in my new sewing room

This is a big moment for me – I’m sharing the first sewing project I’ve done in my little vintage caravan after starting the project to makeover the old retro van into my new sewing studio. I’m still quite far off finishing my ‘office’ but I’ve got a table and somewhere to sit now, so there’s no reason why I can’t start sewing out there as planned!

I’ve borrowed hubby’s loooong outdoor extension lead so now I’ve got electricity and I can at least plug in my sewing machine and have the radio on while I work. I will need to sort out a better and more weather-proof electrics for the caravan if I want to use it over the winter (which I’m sure will result in another dull-but-necessary blog post!) but for now, the roll-out extension cable does the job. So this is the first sewing project I worked on last week – an appliqué tulip design.

cassiefairys applique tulip project for amanda addison creative crafting

After setting so many inspiration challenges of my own, I wanted to join in with Amanda Addison’s craft challenge, which I learnt about during the Creative Crafting blog tour over the summer. She set the challenge to use her tulip design and appliqué it onto anything we like. I started with a piece of gingham and a tiny scrap of red fabric and soon decided that I wanted to create an appliquéd picture that I could frame and hang in the caravan in the future. I used zig-zag stitch over the edges and chose a contrasting pink thread to outline the petals.

I was happy with the finished image and sent a photo of it to Amanda. There were lots of other crafters joining in with the challenge with a variety of results – adding the tulip design to jeans, cushions and even a tray! She has shared some of the projects on her website, so please check out her blog post  and you can even get the tulip design pattern for yourself and add it to your own craft items in the future. And don’t forget that this month’s inspiration challenge theme for my own blog is ‘apples’ so check out the challenge blog post and join in by making something crafty!

Inspiration Challenge for October 2013 theme - apples

I’m pleased to make my first item in my caravan ‘studio’ and I can’t wait to carry on crafting after I build my work surface. Now that I’ve started working in the caravan, I’ve realised that I desperately need some storage solutions – somewhere to put my fabric, equipment and craft supplies, so I’m going to keep an eye out for a desk, some free-standing shelves and storage boxes. I’m sure there will be another caravan update soon, so come back when you get the chance!  🙂

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My week…

This week I’m getting involved with a bit of a blog challenge from lovely lifestyle blog La Vie Sophie – If you’ve not already checked out her blog, do it now! After meeting her at the Company blog awards earlier this year Sophie has inspired me with her gorgeous photographs and charming way with words. It’s one of my favourite blogs and again she has come up trumps again with the inspiration behind today’s post to discuss what we’ve been up to this week…

theweeklyroundupgraphicPS

Sophie says “I don’t know if it’s just me but I usually find that Sundays get a bit neglected as a posting day. The last day of the weekend can get a bit hectic when you realise a new week is rolling round and you don’t have a clean shirt for work/uni/school/college etc, so for this reason I’ve decided to start a weekly blog feature. The aim of it is to make myself sit for five minutes to think about what I’ve done that week. It doesn’t have to be writing a symphony or saving a life, it can be as simple as having eaten a really tasty dinner or going for a walk. To make it a bit easier I’m going to provide little headings for myself, only 6 of them, to fill in at the end of the week.”

I thought that this was such a great idea that I immediately wanted to get involved. There are some other fabulous bloggers joining her challenge to reflect on the week, which includes bloggers Kimberley, Alexandra, Alex  and Holly, and probably many more this week!

pieday friday mince pies dunelm mill cake stand finished

So here are the things I’ve done this week:

Ate… Mince pies and drank mulled apple juice. You don’t have to tell me… But in my defence the mince pies were half price! 

Watched… The film Julie and Julie starring Meryl Streep as celebrity cook Julia Child and cute Amy Adams as blogger Julie Powell. This is a true story and is pretty inspiring for all us bloggers out there. If you’ve not seen it, get the DVD and watch it now – I’m not kidding – it will make you happy. It’s been out a while and I’d never watched it before but I picked up the DVD at a carboot sale, and although the cover was uninspiring and I was pretty sure I was in for a rather dull watch, as soon as the film started I was enchanted. I watched it with mum and then made hubby watch it too and now I think they understand my world of blogging better!

Listened to… The Chris Evans breakfast show on Friday 11th October. I rarely listen to a whole radio show but when I heard the line up of Tom Hanks, David Jason, Robbie Williams and James Blunt, I cleared a little space in my diary to sit with the radio and listen to the whole show. It was a great show packed full of interesting gossip, as you’d expect from a line up like that, and it was lovely to hear a rare interview with David Jason and listen to him slipping into the Del Boy accent while he was discussing Only Fools and Horses – as if that’s not his real voice! Put it on iPlayer and listen again if you missed it.

Laughed at… Kevin McCloud. In everything he does. This week I chuckled at him doing a serious summing-up while wearing a bath robe and slippers on Grand Designs and I laughed at all the little animations of him during each episode of Man Made Home that I’ve been catching up on. I just think he is so funny, he doesn’t even have to say anything, even his expressions crack me up! Plus I laughed at my friend and I emailing each other the exact same message – word-for-word – at the same time, and it wasn’t even a short message. unbelievable!

Read… Caitlin Moran’s How to Be a Woman. What can I say? This is a writer that I’ve admired for a long time and I’m pleased to report that she’s not let me down with this part-biography, part-manual. I’ve been laughing out loud and it’s actually cutting into my own writing time because I don’t want to stop reading it!

Went… to the bingo! I know it’s probably not considered to be the ‘coolest’ of things to do on a Saturday night, but I had a great time with my friends and I’m sure that the image of bingo halls is changing – it’s very swish and glitzy nowadays – but I’ll share more about this night out with you soon!

Join in with Sophie’s weekly challenge by visiting her blog La Vie Sophie.


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Use it up & be inspired ~ A couple of blog challenges to join in with…

Let’s start with the real reason why I’m setting myself this challenge: I need to save money between now and Christmas (yes, I’ve peeped into the piggy-bank and there’s not enough in there to buy Christmas cards, let alone anything else!) and the best way to do this is to stop spending. That’s easy to say, but not so easy to do, especially when you’re a closet beauty-fanatic who can’t help lusting over new make-up products and beauty-buys. I go into the high street pharmacy stores (and online too!) every week to see what’s new, and although I spend ages testing out the products and working out the best deals, I try very hard not to buy anything because inevitably I’m holding the new must-have liquid eyeliner in my hand and I know that I’ve already got at least 3 black liquid eyeliners at home that I don’t even use much. But it doesn’t stop me from wanting it and being so certain that this will be the product to change my life.

So to put an end to this loitering-around-Superdrug, I’m going to set myself a challenge to use up the products that I already have and stop buying the next miracle cream etc. I’ll save money AND I’ll make room in my make up drawers. And when it gets to Christmas, maybe my friends and family will treat me to some beauty gifts. So from now on the products that I desperately want will be added to my “Things I NEED!” Pinterest wish list so that I can swoon over them from time to time, and maybe splurge a little when it gets to January. Plus, I might have gone off the idea of the latest wonder-product by the time I’m in 2014, and I’m sure something better will have been launched to take its place.

So these are some of the bits I’m aiming to finish up during my “use up” challenge and we’ll see what else I can polish off over the coming months too:

cassiefairy use up challenge beauty products

And the second challenge is a reminder about my Inspiration Challenge for September – please make something -ANYTHING – on the theme of “bears” and you will be entered into the prize draw to win this lovely sewing kit from Abakhan Fabrics. I’m not judging your makes, it’s just for fun to get inspired to do something creative this month – check out the blog posts here and join in by sending photos of your projects to Cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk!

Inspiration challenge for september 2013 antique bears win sewing kit from abakhan

Will you join me in either of my challenges? What products do you have lurking at the back of your cupboards that you would like to use up? What can you make around the theme of bears?? Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me @Cassiefairy. Speak to you soon x

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