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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AMAZING news – my blog won the award for Best Homes & Interiors Blog 2017

I’m SO excited to tell you the wonderful news that my thrifty little lifestyle blog has just been announced as the winner of the Best Homes and Interiors Blogger Award 2017!! I still can’t really believe it and I’m grinning like the cheshire cat right now!The news has just been shared by the award sponsor Tile Trader and it’s already made the headlines on the East Anglian Daily Times website – here’s a screen shot and link to the article if you’d like to have a read.Thank you all for voting for my blog in the competition, I really appreciate you taking the time to support me and it’s all for a fantastic cause – the prize is a donation of £200 to a homelessness charity in the winner’s local area. I’m delighted to be able to use my little blog to boost the funds of a brand new support service in Suffolk “The Bus Shelter”.

Beautiful photo of the bus renovation project by Jane Gould, image from The Bus Shelter Facebook page

The charity is currently renovating a donated double-decker bus to turn it into a safe space for rough sleepers to stay. But ‘sleep is just the beginning’ (the charity’s motto) as the bus will also offer advice, cooking and washing facilities, and ongoing support. It’s a truly inspirational charity and the project is in progress right now so please get involved if you can – all donations really do make a difference and will help to get The Bus Shelter on the road sooner. You can read more and donate on their Facebook page here.

Thank you all once again for voting for my blog – it’s made a huge difference to a local charity as well as made me indescribably happy! I’m super excited  that I also receive a commemorative plaque for the award to put on the mantlepiece woo, can’t wait for that to arrive in the post – I’ll be sure to share a photo of it on Instagram @cassiefairy when it’s delivered. Thank you for continuing to support me and helping to put Suffolk blogs on the map in this national award competition 🙂


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Pieday Friday – The Hairy Bikers’ coffee cake for Red Nose Day

Today’s recipe post comes directly from The Hairy Bikers, who have shared this recipe in aid of Comic Relief. The fundraising spectacular takes place on 24th March this year so you’ve got plenty of time to perfect your sponge cake before the big event! Without further ado I’m handing over to Si and Dave  to share their recipe – enjoy!
A deliciously moist, old-fashioned coffee and walnut cake is one of our very favourite treats and we like to make it with Camp chicory and coffee essence. If you can’t track this down in your local stores, use very strong black coffee instead. Make sure the walnuts you use are nice and fresh.

SERVES 12 – 65g walnut halves, 225g softened butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing, 225g caster sugar, 4 medium eggs, 225g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp Camp chicory and coffee essence

Icing – 150g softened butter, cubed, 300g icing sugar, sifted, 4 tsp Camp chicory and coffee essence,12 walnut halves

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.

  1. Butter two 20cm loose-based sandwich tins and line the bases with discs of baking parchment. Put the walnut halves in a food processor and blitz them into fairly fine crumbs, but don’t worry if there are a few larger pieces remaining. Tip the walnuts into a bowl.
  2. Put the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and coffee essence in a food processor and blend on the pulse setting until well combined and creamy. You may need to remove the lid once or twice and push the mixture down with a rubber spatula. Take care not to process for too long or you will end up with a heavy sponge.
  3. Add the blitzed walnuts to the batter and mix until just combined. If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop the nuts, tip all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, then beat like hell!
  4. Spoon the mixture evenly into the greased and lined tins and smooth the surface. Bake on the same shelf in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes or until the sponge is well risen and just beginning to shrink back from the sides of the tin.
  5. Remove the tins from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the cakes and turning them out onto a wire rack. Peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool completely.

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Have you got your festive knit ready for Christmas Jumper Day?

I know I have. Well, every day in December is Christmas jumper day for me… but I’m talking about the official Christmas Jumper Day with a capital C, J and D. This year, Save the Children’s annual Christmas Jumper Day is taking place on Friday 16th December. Silliness will be sweeping the nation as schools, homes and offices across the country will be ditching their day-to-day dress for colourful, garish, crazy knitted jumpers instead.crazy for christmas jumpersI’ve got my pink polka dot squirrel jumper (with sparkly sequinned acorn and fluffy furry tail) at the ready to wear on the big day. And the best bit is that all this silliness has a serious purpose – by sticking on a daft sweater and donating £2 to Save the Children through christmasjumperday.org you’ll be saving children’s lives and giving them a brighter future.DIY christmas jumper festive snowman-12

Here’s my step-by-step guide to DIYing your own snowman jumper

And that’s not the only way you can help. If you’ve finished with your festive jumper from last year why not take it to your nearest Save the Children store where unwanted Christmas jumpers will be resold (raising more funds for the charity) so that others can join in the festive fun on Christmas Jumper Day this year. You could also pick up an even sillier sweater at the same time to keep an eye out in stores this week.crazy for christmas jumpers-2All the money raised through woolly-wearing will help give a child living in a refugee camp clothes to keep them warm through winter, or set up a safe space to give them the chance to be children again. It could also help bring essentials like healthcare, education, protection and food to the millions of children around the world who are missing out on the most basic support. All this, just by wearing a daft jumper – it’s a very silly way to solve some very serious problems!christmas jumper DIY pompoms before and after

Here’s my DIY pom-pom Christmas cardi project blog post

I hope you’ll join in with all the fun on Friday 16th and hop onto the christmasjumperday.org website to donate. Happy Christmas Jumper Day all!


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Wahey! My recycled fabric wreath project is featured in Oxfam newspaper!

I had a lovely surprise this week when I flicked through the winter issue of Oxfam newspaper: my festive wreath project has been featured in the publication! Of course, Oxfam had been in touch earlier this year to ask permission to use my content and, seeing as I’d created it for the Oxfam Fashion blog in the first place, I was happy to oblige.oxfam-newspaper-feature-cassiefairy-felt-wreath-project-diy-christmas-festive-1In fact, I was over the moon! It’s amazing to think that my little thrifty project is being printed in a real newspaper and distributed to Oxfam customers, volunteers and donors all around the country. Wow, I’m so chuffed!oxfam-newspaper-feature-cassiefairy-felt-wreath-project-diy-christmas-festive-3DIY fabric wreath for Christmas - step by step tutorial-10The feature contains step-by-step photos to show readers how to use scrap fabrics and ends of ribbon to make a funky Christmas wreath. I loved creating this project, enjoyed sharing it on my blog and on the Oxfam website, and now I’m absolutely thrilled that it’s been immortalised in print! Woo!oxfam-newspaper-feature-cassiefairy-felt-wreath-project-diy-christmas-festive-1-2You can find this project and all my other blog posts on my Oxfam blogger profile, and while you’re there, have a look around the Oxfam fashion blog and read all the interesting finds and projects that the other volunteer writers have been working on.


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A pile of poo and a goat – festive gifts that help others

I’m not even going to say the ‘C’ word yet but I know that many of you are already planning – and buying – your seasonal gifts. In fact, I’m heading out to the high street tomorrow to gather some stocking fillers myself so I know that (if you’re at all like me) you’re already making a shopping list. And possibly checking it twice. Which is why I wanted to jump in feet first today with an idea for what to get ‘the person who has everything’.

Photo credit: Oxfam GB

My answer is; nothing. I’m not being rude, but what I tend to find these days is that everyone gets whatever they want for themselves all year round, so they don’t really need anything in particular. On top of this, we’ve all got limited space in our homes. I know how sad it makes me to receive a big generous gift when I don’t have anywhere to put it. I’m not ungrateful, I love the present, but I have like, literally nowhere to keep it. I have to store so many things ‘for later’ because I just don’t have the room at the moment.

So my solution is a simple one; buy something for someone else instead. I’m talking about charity gifts and, as an Oxfam blogger, I wanted to share details of their festive packages in case you’re already looking for a secret santa present for someone who already has plenty of everything. There are lots of Oxfam charity gift ideas on the website (starting at just £5) but I’m just going to mention my top two today – a pile of poo and a goat.

Photo credit: Oxfam GB

Imagine giving someone a pile of poo for Christmas – it would be the talk of the office as a secret santa gift, wouldn’t it?! I love the tongue-in-cheek nature of the gift, but it’s a whole lot more helpful than the name makes out. The gift is a 100% natural mix of manure and organic fertilizer so that someone can grow their own vegetables and feed their family. It also includes training on how to plant crops so that they are more successful in growing food. This means that the family will have a more varied diet, their health will improve with regular meals and they can sell any excess produce to raise money for other things, such as sending their children to school. Amazing what a pile of poo can do, isn’t it?

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Decluttering my wardrobe by Swopping with Oxfam

A new campaign by Oxfam has just launched today and I’ve already been rummaging around in my wardrobe this morning in order to help raise money for Oxfam. The ask is so simple and I hope you can join me in supporting such a great cause. From 6th June Oxfam is asking the nation to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Marie Kondo by decluttering their wardrobes and donating any clothes not worn in a year to the charity’s Shwopping campaign.

Oxfam will then resell your unwanted clothes and the money raised will make a real difference to those who need it the most and help to end extreme poverty for good. I’m actually really pleased with efforts this morning – I was clearing out my wardrobe at 7am (enthusiastic, eh?!) and had taken some snaps of the process by 8am (see below!). And by 9am I was tapping away at my computer, writing this blog post! I really wanted to share the campaign with you today – the day it launched – because I’m hoping my photos will inspire you to do the same when you get home from work or college later today. At the very least I’ve got a tidy wardrobe now, thanks to Oxfam!

We all have clothes laying in the back of our wardrobes that we never wear and whilst we aren’t wearing them, someone else could be loving them again and, in turn, help Oxfam’s Water, Women and Work campaign for the most vulnerable people across the globe. Donated clothes will be resold in Oxfam shops on the high street, or on the Oxfam fashion website or in Oxfam festival shops. Clothes that can’t be resold will be reused in Frip Ethique, Oxfam’s social enterprise scheme in Senegal or in other countries around the world. And any clothes they can’t resell or reuse are sold in bulk to reprocessing companies to be reborn as mattress filling or carpet underlay. Whatever you donate will be used in the best possible way to raise much-needed funds for the charity.

You can donate clothes to Oxfam shops or take them into M&S stores and pop your unwanted clothes into their Shwopping boxes before you buy something new! You can actually collect ‘Sparks’ points when you Shwop at M&S if you show your donations at the till before you put them in the box, and if you donate a M&S item at an Oxfam shop, they will give you a discount vouncher for your next purchase at M&S – bonus! There are still approximately 114,000 garments thrown away in the UK every hour (can you believe it?!) so taking them to M&S or Oxfam is a much better use of these unwanted clothes than putting them into landfill. Both options are extremely convenient ways to donate to a great cause and will help Oxfam’s “ultimate goal” of recycling as many clothes as M&S sells – that’s hundreds of millions of clothes each year! Just imagine how much money could be raised for the charity even if you only dropped off one thing before buying something new. I really like the idea of a ‘one in, one out’ policy for my wardrobe in order to keep it tidy from now on.

Please do let me know if you do get involved in this campaign and ‘Shwop’ something of your own by leaving me a comment below. And if you’d like to join in the campaign on Twitter, please use the hashtag #WardrobeShwop in your tweets – why not share a photo of your newly decluttered wardrobe too?! Thanks for supporting this great campaign and if you get a chance please check out my author profile on the Oxfam fashion website where I share lots of thrifty DIY projects as a voluntary blog writer!


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Wear your support with Fashion Targets Breast Cancer

Can you believe that Fashion Targets Breast Cancer has already been running for 20 years?! I remember being a teenager when this ground-breaking campaign first launched – where have those years gone? Nonetheless the 2016 campaign has launched and is celebrating 20 years as the nation’s most powerful fashion movement.fashion targets breast cancer 2016 charity campaign breast cancer now bracelets-2Running until the end of May, the campaign calls on British shoppers to buy something stylish from their 2016 fashion collection. Your support raises important funds for Breast Cancer Now’s vital research into breast cancer so what better excuse do you need to do a spot of shopping this month? fashion targets breast cancer 2016 charity campaign breast cancer now bracelets-3The exclusive fashion collection is available at some of the high-street’s best loved retailers, including Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, River Island, Topshop, Laura Ashley, Simply Be, Hush, The Fold, SVP and Blow Ltd. Over the past two decades shoppers have raised over £14 million to fund pioneering breast cancer research simply by shopping! Whether you’re investing in a whole new wardrobe or buying a piece of jewellery to show your support (such as my gorgeous bracelets from River Island), you can make your money really count by choosing items from the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer collection. Just check out fashiontargetsbreastcancer.org.uk/lookbook where you can browse through the collection. Here are just a few of my favourites:

image001The collection celebrates the best fashion moments from the past decades and includes some ‘throwback’ styles (I thought this was worth a mention, seeing as it’s Thowback Thursday today!) such as spaghetti strap tops, bodies and cropped tees, which remind me of the 90s when the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign first launched. But it’s not all ‘gimmicky’ fashion – there are plenty of casual staples, glamourous knock-out pieces and plenty of inspiration for Spring/Summer outfits. Most importantly, every single item guarantees a minimum 30% donation to Breast Cancer Now. Prices start at a thrifty £2 (again, my bracelets are a good example of this) so it’s easy to ‘Wear Your Support’ no matter what your shopping budget is. fashion targets breast cancer 2016 charity campaign breast cancer now bracelets-4fashion targets breast cancer 2016 charity campaign breast cancer now bracelets-6Breast Cancer Now is the UK’s largest breast cancer charity. They have already made incredible advances to combat the disease, and today more women beat breast cancer than ever before. Every penny donated to the Breast Cancer Now goes towards reaching the target that, by 2050, no woman will die from breast cancer. I am delighted to be working with them to tell you all about this thoroughly worthwhile campaign. I’d love you all to head out to the shops this weekend and treat yourself to something new from the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer collection – just one purchase could make all the difference. Thanks for reading guys, and let me know if you buy something from the range by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me @cassiefairy. fashion targets breast cancer 2016 charity campaign breast cancer now bracelets-5


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My little vintage caravan – I’ve been featured in Caravan Magazine!

Did you know it’s World Smile Day today? I can’t think of a nicer event! It’s got me thinking about the things that make me smile and, aside from my family and friends of course, this includes my caravan, sunny days and beautiful flowers. So I’ve nipped out to my caravan to take some photos of my latest projects and to share the things that make me smile on World Smile Day.vintage retro caravan magazine diy carpet rug makeover project-11vintage retro caravan magazine diy carpet rug makeover project-10vintage retro caravan magazine diy carpet rug makeover project-22vintage retro caravan magazine diy carpet rug makeover project-16vintage retro caravan magazine diy carpet rug makeover project-25I also wanted to share the awesome news that my very own little vintage caravan has been featured in Caravan Magazine! A double-page spread, no less. Pretty cool, huh? I was lucky enough to be interviewed by Ben Hackney for the magazine earlier this year and couldn’t wait for the article to be published. It’s in the September issue of Caravan Magazine on page 44 (yes, I’ve memorised it!) and they’ve made the photos of my caravan look amazing – check out all those fabulous cut outs; I need a design team like that for my blog! vintage retro caravan magazine diy carpet rug makeover project-24vintage retro caravan magazine diy carpet rug makeover project-18vintage retro caravan magazine diy carpet rug makeover project-20vintage retro caravan magazine diy carpet rug makeover project-23It is such an honour to be featured in this wonderful UK publication and I am so pleased that people are interested to read about my caravan antics. I proudly showed off the article to my family and have even sent a copy to my nan and grandad! To say I’m rather delighted with the article is an understatement! While reading through, it got me thinking about all the other projects I’d love to do in my caravan so I started making a list of things I can work on this autumn, including a door makeover and adding more fairy lights (absolutely necessary for Christmas!).

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Join in the Race for Life at Cambridge – and all around the UK!

You may have spotted that earlier this year I took part in the Dryathlon to fundraise for Cancer Research UK. Yes, I gave up all alcohol (even the chocolate liqueurs and red-wine Bolognese!) for the month of January and by the end f the month I’d smashed my fundraising target and raised 20% more than I’d hoped for. It was a really rewarding experience and even though I couldn’t wait to have that first drink on 1st February (a bottle of Station 119’s Miss Behavin’ IPA, if you’re asking!) it felt really great to raise the money for Cancer Research and send off my sponsorship money to the charity.cancer research uk race for lifeWell now, I’m looking for the next challenge, and why not make it an even healthier one? I felt fantastic after cutting out alcohol and my body has thanked me for it ever since (I don’t drink much at all now) so I think it’s time to go one step further and take up the challenge of the Race for Life. Continue reading “Join in the Race for Life at Cambridge – and all around the UK!” »


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The Chokeables

Today I want to share a very important video because St John Ambulance have just launched a new campaign #thechokeables which aims to raise awareness for parents and carers for children around the risks of choking and how to help a choking child – and I think it is fantastic. Ever since my nephew was born I’ve become more aware of the medical problems and injury hazards that can affect babies and children, and I have spent a lot of time researching first aid for little ones. I wanted to be sure that I would know what to do if he was ever injured or taken ill while I was looking after him so I watched videos, read instructions and researched flow-charts for every kind of childhood emergency, which is why I think it is SO important to share The Chokeables video today.

St John Ambulance believe that everyone should have the skills and confidence to know what to do in an emergency. Knowing basic first aid can be the difference between life and death – and every week they hear of new people whose lives have been saved because someone nearby knew what to do. st-john-ambulance-the-chokeables-advert-choking-baby

40% of parents asked by SJA have witnessed their own baby choke and almost four-fifths don’t know what to do in this situation so they have made a short memorable video, The Chokeables – featuring the voices of David Walliams, David Mitchell, Johnny Vegas and Sir John Hurt – that shows people how to help a choking baby.

In The Chokeables, the celebrities take on the characters of animated objects that could potentially choke babies: a small princess toy, a pen lid, a jelly baby and a peanut. They’ve joined together because they’ve had enough and want to show how easy it is to save a choking baby’s life. In just 40 seconds you can learn how to give first aid to a choking baby so please watch The Chokeables video from St John Ambulance:

For more information see: https://www.sja.org.uk/sja/support-us/our-campaigns/baby-choking-the-chokeables.aspx

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