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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Saving money this winter – tips for home, wardrobe & cooking

If you are living on a tight budget, each season brings its own challenges and I think that winter might be one of the most difficult. During this season one of the biggest issues homeowners face is finding the money to pay for higher-than-usual power bills. We all know that it’s likely that we’ll be using more fuel and power in the winter; it’s cold, so we have to put the heating on. In addition, the fact that the days are shorter and we usually end up spending more time at home means higher electric bills too. We tend to have the lights and electronics, like the TV, on more. Fortunately, there are ways to keep the bills down, so that you don’t get a massive shock when the gas or electric bill arrives in three months time and here’s what I’ve come up with…Insulate, insulate, insulate

And I’m not just talking about in your loft. It’s draughts that zaps the heat from your home at this time of year but you can stop them today. Getting draught excluders for your doors is a really easy and cheap way to stop heat leakage. Make your own using just a towel and a fold of fabric – here’s my DIY draught excluder project  (I used an old fleece blanket to fill mine) so have a go at making one for yourself and stop that draught now! While it’s not a great idea to not open your windows at all in the winter (the stale air and condensation is a breeding ground for mould, ick!) there will be windows in some rooms that aren’t usually opened anyway. These windows can be insulated using a thin film of plastic that is specifically made to block out any draughts. These kits are widely available and extremely easy to install. In the summer you can remove the film and  you can go back to opening and closing your windows as normal.Knitted layers

Usually if you wear a jumper and a pair of cosy slippers around the house, you can get away with turning your heating down by several degrees. Doing so can save you a lot of money and on average you will save 2% for every degree lower you go. I know it’s kind of the norm to be able to just wear a t- indoors, but I think you should dress as if you’re going outside. In winter you’d usually wear more than just the one layer to go outside and if you wear the same indoors too you’ll definitely be able to turn down the heating. Knitting scarves and big chunky blankets for everyone is a fun winter project, which will soon pay for itself in the extra warmth you’ll all enjoy. Crocheted throws are great for snuggling up under while you watch a movie or play video games when the weather’s bad outside.Slow cooking Continue reading “Saving money this winter – tips for home, wardrobe & cooking” »


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Taking care of your cats during the winter

Autumn and winter are not just difficult times for us human, with dropping temperatures, sniffles and dark days, our pets sometimes suffer more in the winter too so today I’ve put together a little blog post about taking care of your furry friends this season. Of course, I want my cats Cookie and Muffin to be happy and healthy all year round, so I’ve done my research to find out just what to do to look after them during the autumn and into winter and I hope these tips will help you too!tips for looking after your cat during the autumn winter-2A warm place to sit You may have noticed that your cats like to sit in the sun and will seek out the warmest places to nap. This becomes a problem when sunny days are in short supply during the winter months and your cat can become uncomfortable in the cold. It can even stir up arthritic problems in older cats, especially if they are sitting in a draft on their favourite windowsill. Thankfully, there are plenty of things you can do to keep your cat warm and cosy. You can give them a cat bed or padded windowsill cover to keep their sleeping bodies off cold surfaces and it’s even possible to buy a heated pet bed for added warmth! Check for drafts around windows and ensure that curtains are open during the day to take advantage of any sun that does shine this winter. One particularly worrying Cats Protection article I read warns that cats sometimes like to sit on vehicle engines for warmth in the winter so be sure to check where your cat is before starting the car!cheeky cat sleeping on laundryCold spaces indoors – Older cats with thinning fur and ailments may get colder more quickly, so be aware that turning the heating off while you’re out of the house might be a problem for your cat, so maybe just turn it down rather than off completely so that they can still find a warm spot to rest in. Pet owners often keep litter trays and feeding spots the garage or conservatory and these rooms can be much colder than the rest of the house in the winter. The drop in temperate to use the ‘facilities’ may actually put your cat off eating or going to the toilet, which can cause all kinds of complications, so consider bringing the cat’s trays and bowls into the house so they stay comfortable.tips for looking after your cat during the autumn winter

Continue reading “Taking care of your cats during the winter” »


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Dark, damp mornings – and that’s just my windows

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about about damp and condensation. It’s at this time of year that I start scratching my head and wondering how a home that is so well-insulated, well-ventilated and well-heated ends up full of condensation and resulting dampness during the winter months. For most of the winter you’d be forgiven for thinking that my bedroom windows are fitted with frosted glass, but they’re not – it’s just the condensation. It’s not the most exciting topic to write about, but I simply don’t understand it and I’m hoping that someone will have the answer as to how I can keep my home warm but not damp. I’m no scientist, but condensation is caused by warm air meeting a cold surface, is that right? So a window that has been chilled from the frost outside will cause damp air to condense on it right? Yet, my living room is the warmest in the house but the windows hardly ever mist up. What’s up with that?

Home problem Damp condensation on window dripping wet

My pet peeve is being cold indoors in the winter. I love everything about being cold outside – chilly fingers, runny nose, snowball fights and all – but indoors should be warm so that I can bring myself back up to a normal temperature when I come in from the cold. This insistence that indoors will always be warm was born from a serious lack of heating in an old farmhouse we used to live in. There was no double glazing, no insulation to speak of, and a tiny fireplace (which we all know makes the air around it even colder at times) so we’ve endured a couple of freezing cold winters over the years while we were poor students – so much so that a glass of water on the bedside table froze during the night – and I won’t ever go back to living like that.

My home is now mega-insulated, double-glazed, with heaters that I know how to use, yet still I find myself having to open the windows in the morning to get rid of the dampness – and all my warm air floods out with it. You know how stingy I am, and I hate paying to warm up my air, only to have to release it back into the wild to clear the damp. I’m not using gas heaters which are notorious for emitting moisture – we only have night storage heaters – so we should have nice ‘dry’ hot air in the home. The living room is in the middle of the house so it stays warm and cosy with hardly a sniff of condensation on the windows. But why does the bathroom and bedroom – with the same heating provision – fog up but the living room doesn’t? Is it just that those rooms are damp and the living room isn’t? Without fail the bedroom window is always dripping with moisture every morning – so do we really breathe that heavily when we’re sleeping? The eagle-eyed of you may have noticed the squeegee that lives on my windowsill ready to clear the wetness – and this is something I have to do every morning.

I need answers, because I can’t carry on heating air then letting it go to clear the dampness of a room – it’s a waste of money and I’m supposed to be thrifty! What can I do to sort out the condensation/dampness in my home? Please don’t tell me to get a dehumidifier – I find it hard enough to sleep in a room with a lamp plugged in without having a dehumidifying unit buzzing away all night. Not to mention the electricity! Is there a cheap or easy way to fix this problem? I hate being cold, but I hate having a damp house – argh! Okay, rant over, I’m going to boil the kettle and run myself a hot bath… oh, wait…


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The ultimate winter wardrobe staple – your winter coat

It’s now the time of year when the jacket that you’ve been wearing since April will longer suffice to keep the chill off your shoulders. I’ve had three little jackets (all thrifted from charity shops and carboot sales of course) which have been worn in rotation during the spring/summer season, one for every occasion; the little denim jacket (perfect for wearing with little floral dresses to summer BBQs), the little khaki jacket (the ideal accessory for a jeans day) and a blue padded jacket (for colder days and windy walks along the seafront).

My dilemma comes when the weather takes a turn for the worst in the autumn, when I need to decide on a winter coat – that’s right – just one coat for every eventuality. I certainly can’t afford to invest in more than one coat (winter coats are so much more pricey than summer jackets) and I need it to be suitable for wearing with trousers, skirts, dresses and jeans (ok, everything). So it needs to be smart but casual, warm but not duvet-sized, water-resistant but not a pac-a-mac. Difficult decisions all round really. I wouldn’t usually replace my winter coat every year – one coat normally last me a few years so that I really get my money’s worth, but I’ve lost weight this year and am a few dress-sizes smaller than last year, so my old reliable wool 3/4 length coat is marquee-like on my now. So, I must invest in a new one & I’ve spent hours hunting around the high street looking for the ultimate bargain winter coat (to last me for the next few years) and here’s my shortlist from New Look, H&M and Matalan:

Please let me know what you think – where are you getting your winter coat from? what style do you prefer? do you update your winter wear every year?

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