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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Cruelty-free summer cleaning hacks

In the run up to the summer holidays is when I start to notice what needs doing around the house. I realise that spring has passed me by in a whirlwind of work, and with it the notion of ‘spring cleaning’ has wafted off into the distance. Those windows never did get cleaned and that grim grouting never did get replaced. I start thinking to myself since when did those skirting boards get so dusty?’ and I realise that a lifetime of work-sleep-and-play leads to not much success in the way of cleaning. I know life’s too short, but eventually it becomes time to clean. And today is the day.thrifty low cost summer cleaning hacks kitchen bathroom diy cruelty free-6 thrifty low cost summer cleaning hacks kitchen bathroom diy cruelty free-3I sort of want to get the house in order before I take a break for summer. I don’t want to start my holiday with a long to-do list of cleaning task. In an ideal world, someone else would come in and blitz my house, so that I could begin my summer break in a holiday-cottage-style state of cleanliness. However, I’d probably be too embarrassed by the slightly mouldy fridge seal to let anyone else do the cleaning for me. So, onwards, with some spring/summer cleaning hacks.

As you may have spotted in my previous blog posts, I’m very keen to live a cruelty-free life. We’re not just talking animal-testing for make-up here, oh no. Cleaning products are under scrutiny here too, and I’ve found it super-easy to replace my old sprays and soaps with lovely new cruelty-free versions. And it hasn’t even been an expensive process. Thanks to budget brands such as Astonish, Morning Fresh and supermarkets like the Co-op and Waitrose, I’ve been able to find a CF replacement for pretty-much every cleaning product I use. But that’s not all…

I’ve also searched for some cleaning hacks to save me having to use products at all. What could be more animal-friendly than using lemon juice to clean your taps, eh? Unless a cat wanders across the sink at an inappropriate moment, it’s unlikely that my homemade lemon-and-salt cleaner will have been tested on an animal! You don’t need to waste lovely fresh lemons for the purpose of cleaning – stick them in your drink instead! For this hack, I simply used the cheapest bottle of lemon juice I could find in the supermarket and soaked my sponge.

A quick wipeover with a lemon-soaked sponge brings taps back to their sparkling best. If you have a crust of limescale on the taps, simply use an elastic band to attach the sponge to the tap and leave it for a few hours to gradually wear away the limescale. Any stubborn bits can be scrubbed with an old toothbrush soaked in more lemon juice. And speaking of toothbrushes…

You can easily clean grout by mixing baking soda with a splash of water to create a paste. Use an old toothbrush to scrub it into white grout to freshen it up. If there’s a stained patch on the grout, add lemon juice directly to it and allow it to sit for a while to ‘bleach’ it out. Of course, there’s an easier way to clean tiles and grout – with Astonish Grout and Tile Restorer. Don’t be alarmed when you use it for the first time – sometimes the grout turns bright pink when you spray it on! Again, an old toothbrush will sort this out and your tiles will come up sparkling.

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A spring cleaning surprise (& a cruelty-free gift!)

You may have already done the big spring clean in your own home, but what about your relatives? In particular, I’m thinking about your grandparents, parents, uncles and great aunts who may be less able to give their own home a thorough clean this year. When I heard about the #RiseToTheChallenge campaign on social media it really made me think – why not give a little something back to our relatives by helping them out with a mini-makeover? I packed up my dusters and headed straight out this weekend to see what cleaning up I could do for my family.

I wanted my little clean-up to be a surprise so I headed to the shops on Saturday morning before heading to mums to surprise her in the afternoon. I headed to Savers, The Range, Poundland, Superdrug and Sainburys to stock up on plenty of cruelty-free cleaning products and bagged them up as a treat for my mum. She’d recently expressed an interest in my cruelty-free quest and wanted to make the switch over to non-animal-tested products herself. As I’ve mentioned before, chucking out all your old products and replacing them with a whole new cupboard of cruelty-free alternatives just isn’t feasible – it’s wasteful and costs a lot. It’s better to replace each product as it runs out and make the change gradually.

Well, I wanted to give mum a head start (I’m just so pleased she wanted to get involved) and I wanted to take on the #RiseToTheChallenge project and spruce-up her home. Rather than taking all my own cruelty-free household products over to mums (I’ll blog about all my favourite cruelty-free cleaning brands soon, so watch this space!) I decided to pick up a few bottles and give them to mum as a treat, along with a thorough clean-up of her living room. If you’re interested, here are the CF cleaning products I found: Astonish (all around £1 – £1.99), Sainsburys (from just 40p for bleach!), Cussons (£1 for a huge washing up liquid) and Original Source handwash from Poundland. Just goes to show that being kind to animals doesn’t have to cost more – in fact, I’m pretty sure everything I bought costs much less than the branded version.cruelty free cleaning products animal testing CFcruelty free cleaning products animal testing CF spring clean wood floor astonish

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Utility rooms – Making the most of a small space

We could all do with a bit more room, couldn’t we? I know I personally need much more room – or perhaps far fewer things! Okay, okay, I could have a clear out, minimise my stuff and move onto a narrowboat, but even then I think I’d find a few important things that I’ll need to store, no matter where I live. And these tend to be the cleaning, washing and pet feeding bits ‘n’ pieces you need on a daily basis. The things you’d find in a utility room. And when you don’t have a utility room, these are the things that clutter up your kitchens, living rooms, garages and sheds. While I don’t mind a bit of mess, I still like everything to have a place, somewhere I can put it away and breathe a sign of relief that my home (and life!) is in order once again. And that’s where a utility room comes in.

My dream utility room and mud room

Whether you’ve got a back kitchen, a dedicated utility room or just a large cupboard, the most important thing about making the space in a utility area work for you is planning an excellent layout, with storage built in. With just a few ingenious ideas, some sensible (wipe-clean!) material choices and a couple of great storage solutions you can create a utility room to be proud of. It’ll solve all your problems with clutter and mess (yes, I’m sure!) and it can look great too. I’ve gathered some examples of inspirational utility spaces – I won’t call them rooms, because some are just nooks or cupboards – and wanted to share some top-notch storage ideas with you today.

High cupboards keep the floor space of a small utility room clear so it feels more spacious

1. It doesn’t have to be big

Just having a dedicated space to store your cleaning stuff, to house your washing machine or to keep your outdoor gear is reason enough to turn a small cupboard space into a utility area. An alcove, a nook, under the stairs or in the kitchen; wherever you put it, the utility “room” will keep all your mess and clutter in one place and can be neatly closed away when you’re not using it. I love this washing room (above), tucked away in a cupboard. It takes up almost no room at all yet has enough storage for all your cleaning products and room for the washing machine and tumble-dryer.

Great ideas for pet food storage and even a living space for your dog.

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Living a cruelty-free life

I want my life to be cruelty-free. This is something that has been important to me for a while and I’d love to share my passion for the issue with you today. I’m actually rather embarrassed to admit that for all the years of my life leading up to this decision I hadn’t really ever considered it. I hadn’t given animal testing any thought and I actually feel a bit silly that I was being sucked in by advertising and spending my hard-earned money on the ‘latest miracle product’, completely ignorant as to how it was manufactured or tested. I’m not saying that I didn’t care about animals for all my teenage years; I just wasn’t aware of the behind-the-scenes goings-on of the cosmetic, toiletries, food and cleaning product industries. And now I want to make sure that I never make any mistakes with my buying choices again. We have the power to vote with our feet and choose which brands to buy from and which to boycott. Okay, I’m not starting a rally here, but it IS important to me to know what I’m buying and how it has been produced.leaping bunny international logo BUAV approved cruelty free cosmetics make up skincare household products beauty-2

Here’s the logo to look out for on product packaging – The Leaping Bunny

I can tell you what kick started my passion about this subject; my cat Cookie. I’ve been a cat mummy for nearly 8 years now after adopting Cookie and Muffin from the Animal Rescue centre in Lancaster. And I’ve been an animal-lover and pet owner all my life; taking care of rabbits, mice, cats, a dog (and even someone else’s pony!) as I was growing up. I definitely feel an affinity to animals and, let’s face it, sometimes prefer them to humans. Yet the issue of animal testing hadn’t popped into my head at all until this year, when Cookie fell ill.leaping bunny international logo BUAV approved cruelty free cosmetics make up skincare household products beauty-7

The Leaping Bunny logo confirms the product has been certified ‘cruelty free’ under the international Humane Cosmetics or Humane Household Products Standards

In the space of one week my adorable little ball of fluff went from being a happy, healthy and calm animal and became a mangey, weak, skittish, unhappy little soul. My cat was wasting away before my eyes and it broke my heart. Although it wasn’t the cause of the illness, she was suffering from feline idiopathic cystitis so was constantly visiting the litter tray, getting mess all over her and couldn’t rest – within minutes she was up and trying to wee again. Although it was distressing to see at the time, I’m really grateful that this happened because we rushed her to the vets (as the similar illness feline lower urinary tract disease can be very dangerous) and the vet gave her a thorough examination. The result was a heart murmur, caused by hyperthyroidism. She actually was on the way out and we wouldn’t have known about it at all if we hadn’t taken her to the vets. Luckily, there was something we could do to help her, and after changing her diet to iodine free food and lots of medication to treat the symptoms she has started to improve – she’s put on weight, her thyroid levels are going down and she’s getting her fluffiness back. It means that she’ll soon be able to have the operation to remove the thyroid and will be able to live a long and happy life like any other cat.leaping bunny international logo BUAV approved cruelty free cosmetics make up skincare household products beauty-6

What does “Fighting Animal Testing” mean? Dig deeper if you’re unsure – I did and LUSH ARE fighting animal testing. The brand is entirely vegetarian and won’t associate with ANY organisation that tests on animals.

Anyway, the reason I’ve told you all about Cookie’s illness is because that was the turning point for me. I couldn’t bear to see my pet suffering and I realised that I care just as much about any animal suffering. Why put any animal through an ordeal if it can be avoided? I could help Cookie (and the team at Companion Care were amazing) but who helps all the other animals?  Although animal testing is now illegal in Europe, 80% of the rest of the world has no restrictions on it – including the USA and Asia. Sad, isn’t it? I know I can’t physically help all the animals myself but I knew what I COULD do, and that’s make a change in my own habits and hopefully help others to live a cruelty-free life too.leaping bunny international logo BUAV approved cruelty free cosmetics make up skincare household products beauty-4

“Made in the UK” is an additional indicator of a cruelty-free product, as animal testing is banned in the EU

Surely going cruelty-free means splashing the cash on more spendy brands, doesn’t it? Well, the short answer is no. That’s not the case. In many instances, the big name brands are the ones who do still test on animals or whose suppliers test on animals at some point along the chain. Continue reading “Living a cruelty-free life” »


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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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How to create a fresh kitchen look for less

It’s a well-known fact that everybody looks for ways to save money at the start of the year, especially straight after the ‘excessive’ festive period. It’s also well known that once winter is over, we start to look around our homes with fresh eyes and start to notice little jobs that need to be addressed – like the chipped painting on the kitchen units or the scratches on the floors. 9 times out of 10 there are plenty of ways to give your home a facelift without spending ridiculous amounts. Here are a few tips on how you can make your kitchen look and feel fresh but save yourself some money at the same time.small kitchen makeover chalkboard paint yellow rug tiny room interior design blue walls-5storage-diy-interior-design-small-kitchen-makeover-bathroom-unit-cupboard-recycle-upcycling-2

My quick DIY kitchen makeover using chalkboard paint

Clean out the cupboards

Cupboards are by far the hardest thing to keep tidy. They’re either too full or things don’t fit in them properly. The best thing to do is have a spring clean of the cupboards. Think “tidy kitchen, tidy mind”. Sort through all of the unused/unwanted items that have accumulated over the years and just keep what is necessary. You don’t have to throw anything away, just rehome it to another cupboard with more room or even sell them on and use the money for a few kitchen touch ups! Once the cupboards are neat and tidy you’ll notice a difference instantly. Luckily, the kitchen cupboards aren’t always seen from the inside, so if you don’t have to time or the patience to clean them don’t worry!

My space-saving bake station DIY project

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Can you have a beautiful home when you have pets?

When your home is stylish and comfortable it’s great to come back from a hard day at the office, kick your shoes off and relax. You can chill on the sofa and feel a sense of harmony when you look around. But what happens if you have dogs, cats, or other pets that shed hair, leave muddy footprints all over the place, and generally create mess wherever they go? Is pet ownership compatible with a nice home – or are you forever doomed to living in a state of chaos?diy cat hat box - suitcase bed for pets-32A pet-friendly home Dogs and cats don’t care what your home looks like, but there are some things you should do to make sure it is more comfortable for them. Floors are a good case in point. Dogs find it hard to walk on slippery floors, so super smooth laminates or tiled floors can be tricky for them to navigate, particularly at high-speed – their back-legs tend to over-take them! Our cats aren’t very stable on the tiled kitchen floor so we’ve put down a rug to make the room more accessible for them. Just imagine if a dog or cat comes running down a hallway too fast and the floor is slippery – they will probably lose their balance and fall over, potentially hurting themselves and leading to a vet’s bill. cat toys exercise pet health-6The other issue is colour. Pristine white or cream carpets and soft furnishings look fantastic, but are not pet friendly. Imagine how upset you would be if your new puppy came bounding in from a muddy walk and left black mud marks all over the white carpet before jumping on to your new cream sofa. The best solution is to choose pet-friendly soft furnishings in darker colours and easy-to-clean fabrics instead. We have a brown leather sofa that the cats can’t do too much damage to!custom printed retro fabric design cushions mid-century modern mcm 60s 70s pattern print record boxes lp cases cats-5

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Rediscovering the Outside of Your Home: Tips for Getting Rid of Moss and Algae

It’s half term and seeing as the school holidays are the only occasion that I get to have a little time off, I’ve asked one of my fabulous writer pals to write a guest post for me so that I can take a day off! Taylor Andrews is a homeowner with a passion for DIY tasks around home. He loves putting his skills and ideas to the test and sharing his experience with other homeowners via the blogosphere. So today’s blog post is all about breathing a new lease of life into your garden simply by cleaning up the mess – or should I say moss?!

DIY herb garden planter and patio

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Chemical-free ideas for spring cleaning

It’s a mucky job – full of unexpected cobwebs and a surprising amount of dust – but it needs doing and it naffs me off every time. I’m talking about the big Spring Clean. How did a house that I clean every week get so disgusting? Have I really been that lazy all Winter? Is it because I only vacuum the bits of carpet that I can see? 😉 Whatever the reason, we are well and truly into the Spring season and if you’ve not already started looking at your home with fresh eyes and planning the traditional big spring clean, now is the time to get stuck in. I always have a blitz over the Easter weekend so you can imagine all the fun I had last week! Apparently it’s a “great idea” to give your home a deep cleanse each year because it keeps your living environment healthy – no more sneezing from dust, or allergies inflamed by mould spores – and it makes your home a more enjoyable place to live. Just think about how happy you were when you first moved into your house and it was empty and a clean-slate! I’m not suggesting that you clear everything out and start again, but I do think that a good scrub will work wonders for your family’s health and happiness.

One thing that bothers me about spring cleaning is the use of chemicals – I’m really fussy when it comes to using sprays and I really can’t stand the smells – even using nail polish remover is traumatic for me, so you can imagine how pouty I get when I have to clean with pungent sprays and liquids. It’s very tempting to use all the whizzy time-saving products out there to make the spring cleaning process as easy as possible, but I don’t like to splash out on expensive cleaners and it IS possible to get a shiny, fresh home using store-cupboard ingredients to make natural cleaning solutions and here’s how:

natural chemical free spring cleaning ideas bhg

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  1. Baking soda mixed with lemon juice is an excellent combination for souring sinks and bathtubs. You can even use the lemon rind to scoop up the paste and rub onto the porcelain! Smear the mixture onto the surface, leave for 5 minutes, give it a little scrub then rinse off with water. The result is a shiny bathroom with a lovely lemon-fresh scent!
  2. You can unblock drains without sending chemicals out into the environment; simply put ½ cup of baking soda down the shower drain or sink plug-hole then pour in ½ cup white vinegar. The baking soda will start fizzing so cover with a saucer to keep the bubbles inside the drain. After a couple of minutes pour another ½ cup of white vinegar into the drain and leave for quarter of an hour before boiling a kettle and pouring the hot water down the drain to clear it completely!

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I’m having a new year wardrobe clear out

January is the perfect time to think about having a home overhaul and clearing the clutter from your house. Like me, you’ve probably made promises to yourself to improve your emotional wellbeing, career and health but did you focus any of your resolutions on your house? I’m thinking that maybe now is the time to start improving your living environment, because the space we live in certainly has an impact on our mental attitude, ability to work efficiently and relationships with the people in our lives. Although it’s not technically a “Spring Clean”, because I won’t be doing much scrubbing, this weekend I am planning to have a thorough clear out of all the clutter in my home and honestly I think will feel much better after a good tidy-up and can look forward to 2014 with an open mind.

kate bosworth closet

Kate Bosworth’s closet via Pinterest

One of the first areas that I want to address is my wardrobe. Everyone’s wardrobe inevitably grows in content over the course of a year as we buy new workwear, holiday outfits and those discounted shoes that we just couldn’t leave behind at that price. So no doubt, there will be more items squeezed into my wardrobe than there was at the start of last year, and that means more clutter and less space to add new things! Therefore, one of the best things you can do to declutter your clothing is to get everything out and start sorting – I know that the mess will be all over your bedroom instead of tucked away in the wardrobe but stay with me here! Take each item in turn and ask yourself whether you have worn it over the past year. If the answer is yes, hang it back in the closet. If the answer is no, ask yourself why?

  1. Is it the wrong size? Is it uncomfortable? Is it tired and faded? Any of these items can be safely taken out of the wardrobe and recycled. Good items can be passed on to family and friends, or even sold at a carboot sale or online so you can get a bit of extra cash for the new year!
  2. Does it need fixing? If you’ve not worn an item because it is broken, has a loose thread or the button has fallen off, now is the time to do all those repairs you’ve been meaning to get around to, so put them to one side and tackle them after you’ve finished the decluttering process. While you’re sitting in front of the TV in the evenings, how about getting out your sewing kit and fixing that broken seam or loose popper so that you’ve got an item that’s good as new, and you’ll be able to wear it this year – maybe it’s been needing to be repair for so long that you’ve forgotten all about it and can wear it with fresh eyes, as if you’ve been shopping and bought a whole new outfit!
  3. Professional help? If the problem is something beyond your fixing ability and you really want to keep the item, think about getting the hem professionally fixed, taking stained items to the dry cleaners, getting too-long trousers taken up or have those shoes re-heeled. Again this will give you more clothing options in your new, decluttered wardrobe – it’s like shopping but at a much lower price!
  4. Is it unseasonal? If you’re holding a sarong and hot pants in your hands at this time of year, chances are you won’t be need it until your summer holidays in 6 months time. Maybe you could pack your holiday essentials away in your suitcase now (including things like adapter plugs and travel hairdryer), so they will all be in one place when you next travel and will be out of the way until you need them. The same goes for winter clothing when you’re in the height of summer – pop those fluffy festive jumpers into storage bags and tuck them away under the bed or on top of the wardrobe (my dumping ground of choice!) and get them out again when the weather changes.
  5. Is it for a special occasion? We’ve all got dresses, suits, shoes and accessories in our wardrobe that are only really worn on special occasions – black-tie, wedding outfits, even Halloween fancy dress. You know you don’t need immediate access to these items but they have to be stored neatly (maybe not so much with the fancy dress items!), so make sure they are clean and repaired if needed, then keep them on hangers in suit or dress bags and put them at the back of the wardrobe. Or if you really don’t need them, you could get one of those canvas wardrobes for your loft and store this clothing hanging up in the attic, out of the way until you need them again. Continue reading “I’m having a new year wardrobe clear out” »

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