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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6 Crafty ways to preserve your family’s most precious memories

Family memories come and go so quickly. Even when you wait months for a big occasion – marriage, graduations, 1st birthday parties – the time goes by in a blink. You can make the occasion memorable with some of the party tips I shared on the blog earlier this week, but it’s the reliving of these precious moments in the future that gives me the most happiness. And with a bit of craftiness it is so easy to preserve these memories so that you can enjoy reminiscing time and again. 1. Create holiday jars

Holidays provide the best source of memories. We tend to do things out of the ordinary on holiday – fun activities, enjoying a special meal, or hiking to a beautiful spot – but it’s no good having photos stored on a memory card somewhere. Remembering these moments can help to keep us going when we’re feeling under the weather or sat at our desks while it drizzles outside. “Vacation jars” do just that. They’re so easy to make – all you need is a jar – and the rest of the items you can pick up along the way. Put anything in your jar that reminds you of the last holiday you took, including:

  • Small souvenirs
  • Pine cones or shells (depending on the location you visited!)
  • Pictures (real-life printed photos)
  • Postcards and leaflets
  • Maps and travel tickets

I also made myself a ‘little jar of happy’ which contains anything that has made me happy. If my niece or nephew says something funny I’ll write it down. When I get positive feedback on my work, it goes into the jar. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and it always puts a smile on my face remembering the good times. 2. Family yearbooks

Why not create yearly yearbooks that show some of the year’s best pictures? Over the past year I actually got some photos printed and it was lovely to have ‘real life’ photos in my hands. We are all taking more photos than ever thanks to camera phones but we rarely ever print them out. If you do a little audit of your photo albums every 3 months and send a few to print, you create your own yearbook for the family to look back on, and if you’re happy to do some scrapbooking (one of my favourite things to do) you can add in a few extra bits alongside your photos such as:

  • Event tickets
  • Birthday cards
  • Newspaper clippings

If you’ve got photos and souvenirs to hand, you could even use screen printing to transform t-shirts into wearable collages of your images if you want to make a lasting, wearable memory. Imagine wear a Christmas jumper this year that has photos of the fun you had last Christmas printed on it! Photos also work great as ‘bunting’in your office or the kids’ bedroom – here’s how to make Polaroid bunting at home.

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Tips for a healthy summer holiday with the family

How are you enjoying the school summer holidays so far? We’ve already enjoyed a few days of sunshine and got stuck into our favourite outdoor activities, such as swimming, walking and going on bike rides. I think that the school holidays is a great time of year for the whole family to make a change towards living a more healthy lifestyle. It’s easier to feel motivated to get outside and be active while the weather is lovely. It’s also a good opportunity to introduce the kids to the idea of eating more healthily too, with plenty of salads, pasta and couscous on the menu during BBQ season!homemade summer coleslaw panasonic food processor bbq dish-18

Check out my healthy coleslaw recipe on the blog – no mayo in this dish!

With that in mind, I wanted to share something with all you mums and dads out there, to help you with some fun ideas for the school holidays that will also help your family to live a more healthy life. As part of National Childhood Obesity Week, which rans from 4th July 2016, NRS Healthcare launched a digital Healthy Living Family Pack to help families with children who may be experiencing issues with overeating, inactivity or poor nutrition and it contains useful ideas on how families can pull together to become more active in their daily lives.day out wild flower walk spring-2

A wildflower hunt is a free activity that gets the kids moving – read about my recent countryside walk here

What does the Healthy Living Family Pack include?

The digital Family Pack is available to download for free from the NRS website and the pack contains useful information and ideas for parents, coupled with an interactive star chart for children to track their activities in a fun, informal way. Families can learn more about childhood obesity and how to actively approach the subject through the pack contents, which include:

  • Family Activity Cards
  • A Family Day Out Wish List
  • Daily Chores Calorie Counter (for parents)
  • A Chore Chooser Star Chart (for children)blue suede shoes - his n hers brogues_-4

Find ideas for low-cost and fun days out for the school holiday on my blog – here

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Pieday Friday – Cherry & Strawberry Sponge Cake

This week’s Pieday Friday recipe was created quite by accident last weekend. I had an afternoon to myself and was feeling a little ‘meh’. Not down-in-the-dumps but definitely unmotivated. So what better way is there to cheer myself up than by baking a cake, eh? I dragged myself off the sofa and started to gather my ingredients together ready to bake. Having determined that I did already have everything I needed to bake a cake (for once!) I set to work finding my baking equipment. fruit cake cherry strawberry sponge bake baking recipe-6 fruit cake cherry strawberry sponge bake baking recipe-10This was the first stumbling block; my cake tins were nowhere to be seen. I’ve probably not baked a cake for a good few months, and I must have tidied the pans away into my caravan to stop them from cluttering up my kitchen. But could I find them now that I wanted to use them? Nope. Instead I had to use one larger tin than usual and hope for the best. I figured that I could cut it in half and sandwich it back together rather than baking two 7 inch cakes like I usually do. You might already be able to tell from the photos that this plan didn’t really work as my larger tin produced a much flatter cake!fruit cake cherry strawberry sponge bake baking recipeI had lots of strawberries in the fridge thanks to a rather fruitful patch growing in the garden, which had all ripened at once in the hot sun. I’d also picked up a couple of punnets of cherries in the supermarket, now that they are in season and are on sale at bargain prices. When I say ‘a couple’ I mean four in a week. So after days and days of munching on fresh cherries, I was starting to think about other ways of eating them up that didn’t involve breakfast cereal. So I decided to use up all my lovely ripe strawberries and cherries in this cake.fruit cake cherry strawberry sponge bake baking recipe-2 fruit cake cherry strawberry sponge bake baking recipe-3

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Interior design inspiration – Eat-and-chat kitchens

While daydreaming about my future home, I come up with all kinds of ideas in my head. They’re mostly about nifty storage solutions (I have a whole garage full of stuff that needs to be stored somewhere when I move house) but sometimes they’re about the way that I actually want to live in my new home. The things I’ll be doing, the places I’ll be working (yes, sometimes it’s on the sofa), natural lighting and how I move about the house will be really important factors when planning the layout of a new home. So this week, it’s been all about the social side of kitchens and how I’d like my future kitchen to incorporate what I’m calling an ‘eat-and-chat’ area.Shaker ktichen with open plan seating islandSo just what is an eat-and-chat kitchen? To me, it’s an open plan space with somewhere to sit and places to eat. Compared to my previous homes, where the kitchen was tucked away in a tiny room, I’d like to be able to cook, chat, boil the kettle, eat and (sometimes) work, all in one space. Not hidden away, not trapped behind a door while everyone else is chilling in the living room, not stifled by the hot oven. I want to be in the same room as my friends and family, to chop veg with my hubby and to pour drinks while a Bolognese bubbles.open plan kitchen islandSo an open plan space, with a versatile working kitchen sounds like the dream to me. Even though it’s practical to be able to close away a kitchen (in terms of keeping cooking smells and steam in, and hiding messy washing-up away), I just don’t think that’s how I want to live in my new home. As a minimum I’d love to have a space for a table and chairs in the kitchen. It’s that valuable extra preparation space, the leaning over for a chat while cooking space and somewhere I can open up my laptop with a coffee beside me as hubby cooks scrambled eggs for breakfast. Sounds like an Ikea photoshoot doesn’t it?open plan kitchen table island seating Continue reading “Interior design inspiration – Eat-and-chat kitchens” »


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Pieday Friday Recipe – Spiced lamb with jewelled brown rice

Today’s Pieday Friday is something that I cooked up this week after being inspired by my cat’s food. No wait, don’t go – I know that sounds icky but I can explain! It’s still a human recipe, made with real people food, and it’s definitely a delicious and nutritious meal. The only difference is that I thought up the recipe while daydreaming in the kitchen after my eye wandered to the cat bowl…pieday friday recipe for moroccan lamb and jewelled brown rice with vegetables-12 pieday friday recipe for moroccan lamb and jewelled brown rice with vegetables-7You see, my beautiful cats Cookie and Muffin have just tried out some Wainwrights dry cat food and the combinations of flavours are just so, well, human. There’s turkey and rice (are you thinking about turkey risotto already?!), salmon with sweet potato, and – the one my cats are currently enjoying –  lamb and brown rice. It made me remember how much I love brown rice, even though I’ve not eaten it for years, so I decided to create a Moroccan-inspired spiced lamb recipe to go with a tasty vegetable-jewelled rice.pieday friday recipe for moroccan lamb and jewelled brown rice with vegetablespieday friday recipe for moroccan lamb and jewelled brown rice with vegetables-3 Continue reading “Pieday Friday Recipe – Spiced lamb with jewelled brown rice” »


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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

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The Funny Bones family – our Halloween costumes

In my opinion it’s never too early to be talking about Christmas, bonfire night or Halloween, so when my brother asked me if I could sort out a costume for my niece and nephew for their first ever trick-or-treating session at the end of the month, I set to work. I found the best possible deal for costumes and was surprised at how low the prices are. I’m not talking about auction sites or facebay; these are brand new costumes from a real shop – a supermarket in fact. Yes, I managed to find costumes for the whole family from George at Asda.

Skeleton all-in-one costume in age 2-3 years from George at Asda

My nephew has just turned 2 and he really wanted to be a skeleton for Halloween so I was thrilled when I found not one but two skeleton jumpsuit costumes on the George website. One had bright colours and cartoon spiders on it and the other had glow-in-the-dark headphones around the skeleton’s neck. In the end I plumped for the DJ skeleton because it was in exactly the right size for him 2-3 years and this might last him til next Halloween as well, whereas the colourful skeleton was available in age 1-2 which would only fit this year, or 3-4 which would be too big at the moment. I was very pleased to find out that the age 2-3 costume fit him just right and the elasticated ankle and wrist cuffs meant that the little extra length could be pushed up and wouldn’t trip him up. It’s actually a very good quality onesie with soft fleecy lining and a nice thick jersey fabric, so I’m sure it will keep him warm when he goes trick-or-treating this month. Plus, he loves the glow-in-the-dark headphones which glow SO brightly and he keeps going into the bathroom with the light off to look at his glowing costume! Of course, we wanted to give him a ghoulish makeover so I got a ‘Monstrous’ face-painting kit too and he actually enjoyed having scary dark eyes and ghostly white skin painted on.

Once I’d settled on this jumpsuit skeleton for my nephew, I went looking in the baby section and found lots of super-cute costumes for little baby girls. But I knew that my niece would look fantastic matching her bother in a skeleton baby-grow and hat so I ordered this set, along with a tiny skeleton cape for my cat. Yes, I’m even buying Halloween costumes for my cats!

Skeleton baby grow aged 6-9 months from George at Asda

What’s more surprising is the fact that the cats seemed to be rather comfortable in their little costumes which fastened with just two Velcro pads around their neck and tummy. I’d imagined that they’d be trying to back-out of their little costumes or even yowl to let me know how disappointed they were at being dressed-up but no – they didn’t mind it at all and Cookie even slept on top of her costume after I took it off her!

Looking at all this family of skeleton outfits in my basket made me realise that something was missing – of course! – a skeleton outfit for ME! I looked in the ladies costumes section and the cute black and pink skeleton outfit was in fact one of the cheapest. This printed dress has a little stretch in it and is about knee-length, so it’s very comfortable to wear. Plus it comes with bone-print arm covers so I decided to wear a black long-sleeved top underneath the costume (for added warmth) and put the sleeves over the top of this. I think it looks rather cool and I’m very happy to be part of my little skeleton family! Funny Bones eat your heart out!

Womens value skeleton dress from George at Asda


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The language of love

Over the weekend I watched a video on YouTube that actually made me smile from ear-to-ear with happiness and I wanted to share it with you now. It’s a video called The Language of Love and it shows women being given a message in French (by a really rather dishy fella with designer stubble!) before receiving the translation from their daughters, partners and friends. Language of love_ Language of love_-3 Language of love_-7

It shows that expressing messages of love can often be lost in translation but it made me think that I’d really like to share my love and gratitude for my family, husband and friends and I can think of no better way of doing this than by showing you the artwork, quotes and images that I surround myself with every day.

Language of love_-4Language of love_-5Language of love_-10

These special items are all hanging around my home and they express how I feel about all the important people in my life and I’m so pleased that I have such wonderful family and friends who look after me and care for me. These are gifts that friends have given me along, with meaningful images that I’ve framed and photos that we have taken together.

Thanks everyone for being part of my life, you’re fab! Je t’aime!


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Gathering garden inspiration from Jimmy’s Farm

This week I have been out and about in the Suffolk countryside getting inspiration for my own garden and veggie patch, and where better to start than at Jimmy’s Farm just outside Ipswich. Hubby and I took a stroll around the farm on a sunny day and I took a few snaps as a visual ‘sketchbook’ to remind me of ideas for planting veg and flowers in our own garden.

The whole farm is full of wonderful views and I especially enjoyed looking at the kitchen garden to see what was being grown and to get ideas for my own planting. I really like the alternating lines of plants and using herbs with different coloured leaves would help me achieve this very neat look at home. There were also plenty of other flowers and plants to admire, which has got me thinking about the types of foliage and blooms I’d like to have in a flower bed in the future.

We also came across this amazing mud-hut-esque building on the farm. It’s made of logs stacked end on within a kind of clay/mad wall. I love the quirky additions of stained glass windows of different shapes and sizes, plus it was really cosy yet cool inside. The roof was covered in grass and as the whole building was constructed using wood and earth, it was probably one of the most eco-friendly houses I’ve ever come across. It certainly gave my husband some ideas for building himself a ‘man cave’ and we’ve already allocated a spot for it in the garden!

Jimmy’s farm makes for a very relaxing day and we stopped to have a cup of tea before browsing the shop and butchers and buying a few of the farm’s famous pork sausages to take home with us. It was a lovely day out and I’d recommend going for a visit when there’s an event on, such as the regular farmers markets or food festivals so there will be even more to see and do!


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Decorating my living room using personalised posters

In my living room there is wall which hasn’t been wallpapered and that doesn’t have a piece or art or mirror hanging on it, and every time I sit on the sofa my eye is drawn to the big blank empty space. I knew that I wanted to include some photos of my friends and family in my home (there are no photos of my favourite people anywhere, rubbish I know) and I liked the idea of hanging a photo collage. I’ve seen plenty of examples online – I am addicted to Pinterest, after all – and I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while but until last week I had no idea about how I could go about doing it.

I had loads of printed photos that have I haven’t yet got round to adding to an album or framing, but I remember making a ‘physical’ photo collage with my sister for her living about 10 years ago and it took days, maybe weeks, to add all the photos and frame it. I guess that if I don’t have time to frame one photo, I certainly didn’t have weeks to dedicate to the project! I thought about making a digital collage but I didn’t want to spend hours editing photos and using a program on the computer to create a photo collage, nor did I know how I would get it printed; I won’t be able to use my home printer as it will be too big; and I don’t want to spend a fortune on art printing or canvas wraps etc. I started to research the ways in which I could achieve this tiled photo look and one of the pins that I came across led to a review of PosterFriend. I hopped onto their website and found that all my requirements could be met by one company so I set to work creating my artwork.

posterfriend wall art photography

This website connected to my Facebook and Instagram feeds and allowed me to choose any of the photos that I’d ever uploaded. This made creating the artwork super-simple: it was just a case of opening an album on Facebook and dragging-and-dropping the photos that I wanted. Of course, I looked in the “Photos of Cassie” album first and made sure that all my favourite snaps of myself and hubby were included before adding loads of photos of our friends and family throughout the year. I shifted some of the photos around within the standard layout so that my photos were roughly laid out as Spring photos at the top moving down to Winter and Christmas photos at the bottom of the poster. A couple of clicks later and the poster was ordered – I couldn’t believe how quickly I’d managed to achieve exactly what I’d wanted, without having to faff around with uploading individual photos or formatting the layout myself.decorating-with-wall-art-posters-by-posterfriendDuring the following week the poster arrived and it was even better thank I’d expected – and bigger! Even though I’d ordered an A1 poster, I didn’t really realise how big it would be and how many photos would be on it, but it was just what I wanted and it does look excellent! I’m toying with the idea of buying a big frame to hang it in, but in the meantime I’ve tacked it up and it is proudly displayed in my living room. I no longer have to look at that blank wall and now I smile when I glance at the poster and see loads of photos of my family and friends all neatly displayed on one gorgeous poster!

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