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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How to make your party memorable

We all love to party and have fun with our friends and family, but sometimes events can be bit of a chore. We eat the same foods, do the same things for entertainment and see the same faces. Eventually, it’ll just get boring and we’ll probably stop going to as many parties as we used to — but that’s no fun! I love going to parties, and blogger events are the best. I’ve been inspired by some of the fab blogger events I’ve been to recently and have come up with a list of things you can do to turn a party into a truly memorable occasion. Here are some tips for doing away with those boring generic parties – spice it up with a couple of these fun ideas.

Make it an occasion

There’s nothing wrong with looking for a reason to have a party. Perhaps you have an upcoming anniversary, maybe it’s just an end-of-the-month party, or perhaps there’s a big sports game coming up soon. Whether or not you watch sports or care that it’s the end of the month, that doesn’t mean it’s not an occasion to have a party! When you plan an event to coincide with something else, it’s usually easier for the people you invite to remember it and, despite being something trivial, it could turn into a much more meaningful party.

Theme your parties

Always try to mix it up and have parties with different themes. Maybe you could have a fancy dress party one week and then a more formal dinner party another night. Perhaps you could theme a child’s party around their favourite superhero or cartoon character, and maybe you could have a cheeky night in with your friends to watch a film, play some games or do something creative together. Perhaps you could create some DIY neon signs like my ‘Candy’ one above to add to a colourful theme, or perhaps invest in some props to decorate your home with.

Check out my I Heart NY party and Galentine’s party ideas.

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Pieday Friday – 3 healthy juice recipes

It’s all about the juicing this year. Or at least it is in my household because we’ve got a new juicer! As someone who has never tried combinations of juice before (seriously, orange juice is as adventurous as it got!) I’ve been really intrigued to start reading up on juicing and looking into recipes. There are SO many options out there; savoury juices, fruity juices, herby juices and even spicy juices. I wanted to make a healthy swap for my sometimes not-too-healthy shakes and smoothies, so I gave juicing a go for the very first time.I’ve read plenty of recipes where one or two of the ingredients were things that I’m not too keen on (like mango or parsley) so I decided to come up with my own combinations to test out my new juicer and to see whether or not I was going to enjoy fresh juice at all! Today’s Pieday Friday recipe post is the result of my experiments earlier this week and, if you’re a keen juicer yourself, I’m pretty sure that you’re going to like them.  The juicer I’m using is the Phillips Avance Collection Centrifugal Juicer, which is a pretty darn effective piece of equipment. When I started using it for the first time, I was rather surprised by how fast and easily it juiced the fruit and veg that I was putting through it. Sure, I guessed that soft grapes and pears would be easy to juice but who knew that so much moisture could come out of a carrot? Seriously, my carrots were pretty dry when they went in, but boy did they make a lot of juice! And, come to think of it, the pulp that came out was really dry too. I guess the machine got every drop out of the bunch.

So, here are the ingredients for each of the three juices I made last week. I went for a crowd-pleasing fresh fruity drink (the purple one), an exotic juice with tropical flavours (the yellow one) and a nutritious spicy savoury juice (the orange one – yes, the one with the carrots in). Of course, the instructions for each recipe is pretty-much “juice the ingredients” so I won’t bore you with that! Just know that it’s a good idea to remove rinds and skins from fruits like the pineapple, papaya, oranges and kiwi fruits.

One of my experiments that ended in disaster was juicing kiwis with their skins on. I read online that it was fine to eat the skins and while it may be possible to eat the skins, it’s not the nicest texture. So if you don’t want to drink a furry juice, I’d recommend taking off the skins before juicing!

Juice 1 – Cooked beetroot, apples, pears, white grapes.

Juice 2 – Pineapple, papaya, kiwi, oranges

Juice 3 – Carrots, celery, tomatoes, chilli

These juices make a pretty looking bunch, don’t they? I really enjoyed the purple beetroot-based juice and could drink that all day long. And the ‘bloody mary’ style veg juice was delicious too, in a savoury kind of way. I had a bit leftover that I heated up at lunchtime to try it as a soup. If you’re a fan of thin soups, this might be one for you. Tropical flavours aren’t really my thing, by my husband liked the exotic juice, so everyone’s happy with our new juicer!  Do you already make your own juice or will you be starting as part of a healthy habit swap this January? I know I’ll be trying to keep it up during the year so let me know your ideas for recipes or fruit ‘n’ veg combinations by leaving me a comment below or by tweeting me @Cassiefairy.


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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 – A weekend breakfast treat: French toast waffles

Weekends for me are precious. It’s not because I’m working in a job I hate all week long – far from it, I love my work – it’s simply the fact that the world seems to slow down for a couple of days. Weeks whizz by and there never seems to be enough hours in the day but weekends bring a wonderful break from the madness of day-to-day life. It’s the potential that those two days hold that I love so much about weekends. They can be filled with oodles of fun activities, you’ve got time to see friends and, if you want, it can be two whole days of complete relaxation to recharge your batteries before starting another crazy week.birds eye breakfast waffles eggy bread french toast fruit breakfast brunch recipe-10birds eye breakfast waffles eggy bread french toast fruit breakfast brunch recipe-9Sunday is also the only day of the week that I actually sit down to have a ‘proper’ breakfast and can enjoy cooking up a treat for the family. My daily bowl of bran flakes is cast aside as Sunday brunch comes calling. Hubby and I like to try out different brunches each weekend, and have been cooking up pancakes, full English breakfasts and lots and lots of eggs over the past few weeks. Again, this is probably the only day of the week that I eat eggs, so I like to incorporate them into my cooked breakfast each Sunday.birds eye breakfast waffles eggy bread french toast fruit breakfast brunch recipe-13 birds eye breakfast waffles eggy bread french toast fruit breakfast brunch recipe-11I love eggs and it’s definitely the season for it – my mum’s bantam hens are laying eggs like there’s no tomorrow. We’ve got about a dozen it the fridge at any one time and, other than in baking, we rarely get to use them up. Except for on Sundays. Whether scrambled, boiled, fried or poached, eggs are the ideal lazy breakfast food. They’re good for you, are a low-cost way to fill up your rumbling stomach and even come self-packaged in their shells!birds eye breakfast waffles eggy bread french toast fruit breakfast brunch recipe-3 birds eye breakfast waffles eggy bread french toast fruit breakfast brunch recipe-4Last weekend I using my eggs in a different way and thought I’d share this with you so that you can recreate it yourself this weekend. I made eggy waffles. Like eggy-breads, or French toast, but instead of dipping a slice of bread into the egg mixture I dipped a cooked waffle. How does that sound? It’s bloomin’ delicious, I can tell you! You end up with something like a cross between a donut and French bread – or if you use cinnamon waffles, you get a cinnamon Danish effect. It’s the ultimate base on which to stack lots of healthy berries, sliced fruit and yoghurt if you’re feeling hungry! Here’s how I did it: Continue reading “Pieday Friday – A weekend breakfast treat: French toast waffles” »


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Pieday Friday – Ultimate KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)

Today’s recipe is an extract from the fantastic new cookbook Korean Food Made Simple by Judy Joo. The traditional recipe for Yangnyum Chicken is the Korean version of good ol’ KFC so I thought it would be fun to share this recipe with you today while I’m away on my half-term holidays. What a fun ‘takeaway’ recipe to try out this weekend! Here’s Judy’s recipe:KMFS Ultimate KFC p167I have always loved fried chicken. But even though I grew up eating it in America, for me, ‘KFC’ stands for Korean fried chicken. There are many different versions, but what they all have in common is a very thin, hard crisp coating, which comes from using cornflour instead of flour, as well as double frying. My take on the dish, which includes vodka and matzo meal, is a little unorthodox and has a fair number of ingredients, but I call it ‘ultimate’ for a reason. Two things make it even better: its customary accompaniment of Cubed Pickled Radish and ice-cold beer.

Recipe serves 4

Coating: 30 g (1 oz) cornflour, 2½ tsp sea salt, ½ tsp baking powder, Freshly ground black pepper, 2 chicken drumsticks, 2 thighs and 4 wings (with tips), Vegetable oil, for frying

BBQ Sauce: 3 tbsp Korean chilli paste (gochujang), 3 tbsp ketchup, 2 tbsp dark brown sugar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil, 2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger, 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped

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Pieday Friday – Minted pea pasta with chargrilled chicken

We’re all hoping for a sunny bank holiday weekend right? And what better way to spend the long lazy weekend than with a spot of al fresco dining, eh? I’ve got the ideal recipe for you to try out this weekend; it’s really fast, super-easy and uses just a handful of ingredients that you’ve probably already got at home. Whether you fresh fancy a change from your usual heavy Saturday night takeaway or you’ve got the family round for a light Sunday lunch, this recipe is a great healthy choice for any meal.minted pea pasta recipe with grilled chicken breast al fresco meal dinner-23 minted pea pasta recipe with grilled chicken breast al fresco meal dinner-25With fresh vegetables, light protein in the form of skinless chicken breast and low-fat wholewheat dried pasta, this recipe will quickly become your ‘go-to’ dish for weekday dinners. Let’s face it, you’ll probably always have a stock of these ingredients in your cupboard and freezer so can fall back on it time and again. I find it so reassuring to have a quick and healthy dinner available, even when I haven’t had time to get to the supermarket. I’ve always got a bag of Field Fresh peas in my freezer, using a handful here and there to accompany a fish dish or to pop into a shepherd’s pie, so I know that this sauce is only a few minutes away from being stirred through my favourite pasta after a long day at work.minted pea pasta recipe with grilled chicken breast al fresco meal dinner-27 minted pea pasta recipe with grilled chicken breast al fresco meal dinner-31minted pea pasta recipe with grilled chicken breast al fresco meal dinner-26It’s also a great dish for impressing friends during al fresco ‘supper club’ meals. The dish looks like you’ve spent hours preparing it and tastes delicious. It’s light enough to serve in smaller portions as a starter, or you could use the pea puree to drizzle over a fresh salad with parma ham, so keep it in mind for special occasions too. Here’s how to make it yourself… Continue reading “Pieday Friday – Minted pea pasta with chargrilled chicken” »


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Pieday Friday drinks recipe – Fruit cubes for sparkling cocktails

Today’s recipe is a great one for adding a little bit of excitement to your party. If you’re planning a wedding, hen party, birthday or are even gathering together to celebrate the Queen’s 90th at a street party, this little fruity recipe would be a great addition to a glass of something bubbly. Whether you’re drinking soda, lemonade or a sparkling wine, these little cubes of fresh fruit add a little kick to any glass of fizz, turning it from a basic drink into something special for your big occasion. Read on find out how to make fruity cubes for your very own party and how you can WIN a case of sparkling wine from Premier Estates for yourself!wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-32 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-28 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-21Freezing pureed fruit into ice cubes is a simple enough idea, but it’s the fruity combinations that add the wow factor. Popping a couple of cubes into a champagne flute before topping up with fizz creates a cocktail-in-a-glass. The cubes bubble and roll around in the glass before gradually dissolving to turn your glass of wine into a bellini. It’s a no-fuss drink, with no need to pour measures of puree, so guests can easily add their own fruit flavouring to whatever they are drinking.wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-35 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-20Recipe 1 – Peach & apple. I used tinned peaches for this recipe because they are easy to blend but you can use very ripe fresh peaches if you prefer. I used half a tin, which made enough puree for at least 24 cubes, which is enough for 12 drinks, so you can adjust the quantities if needed. I drained away most of the syrup and added 100ml of apple juice instead. Blend into a pulp and then pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-2 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-3 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-36Recipe 2 – Mixed berries & cranberry. For this recipe I defrosted a bowlful of frozen mixed berries but you can use fresh strawberries, blackberries, cranberries and raspberries for this recipe if you like. I added a sprinkling of sugar to sweeten slightly and then poured over 100m cranberry juice. Blitz the fruit and juice together before pouring into the ice cube tray and freezing. You can sieve the seeds out of the puree if you like, but I wanted to keep them in, so that the floating ice cubes would resemble berries themselves. Again, this made 24 ice cubes, enough for 12 drinks.wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-4 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-5 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-6 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-7Recipe 3 – Lime & mint. This is a flavour combination that would work best in a soda or lemonade (you can add vodka or whisky if you like) rather than a sparkling wine. In this instance, mix the juice of a whole lime into 100ml lemonade, and add a big handful of fresh mint leaves. Give it a quick blend to mash in the mint and then pour into the ice cube trays and freeze.

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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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Pieday Friday – Eat well & healthily this year

Are you taking part in the #WomanKind campaign this month? I’ve been really excited about getting stuck in to this ‘me-time’ project so you might have spotted a few posts over the last couple of weeks about looking great on a budget. If you miss them, here are my posts on starting your new year in style with a wardrobe makeover and hunting out payday footwear bargains. I’ve been sharing thrifty tips and really throwing myself into the spirit of the #WomanKind campaign by supporting my lovely readers to get some great fashion deals and grow in confidence at the same time.pieday friday recipe pastry-free quiche healthy snack hack lunch dinnerI especially love joining in with this campaign because its aim is to encourage women to be kinder to themselves, and that’s something that we all need to work on. The survey I read on the #WomanKind site shows that a whopping 89% of women never compliment themselves and are much more likely to be kind and loving to others than they are to themselves. I really think it’s time to change that and this is precisely why I’m getting stuck into this campaign.healthy moroccan mint ginger lemon herb infusion tea recipe-11

My fresh Moroccan mint tea infusion – click here to find out how I made it

Today’s blog post is something a little different to my usual Pieday Friday recipe posts. In the spirit of the #WomanKind campaign I’m sharing money-saving tips for eating well and healthily this new year. Hopefully, these ideas will inspire you to make a change to the way you approach meal times AND treat yourself with the care that your body deserves.summer salad recipe-6

My favourite ever salad with pea puree – check out the recipe

Tip 1 – it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to eat healthily. You don’t need any specialist meal-replacement products or new kitchen equipment. Yes, swapping sugar for fruit-based sweetener and cooking oil for Fry-Light will help you make your meals and drinks much healthier, but these are probably the only two things you’ll need to make a big change. From here on in you can make your own healthy ‘instant’ meals, mix up your own fruity yoghurts and bake your own low-sugar snacks so there’s no need to invest in speciality foods. You just need to put a little effort into caring for yourself (yes, be #WomanKind to yourself again!) and spend some time preparing fresh dishes that will make you feel great on the inside, as well as on the outside.pieday friday recipe pastry-free quiche healthy snack hack lunch dinner-2

I shared a pastry-free “quiche” recipe in January

Tip 2 – take the time to eat well. This tip can be interpreted two ways and the first is to actually Continue reading “Pieday Friday – Eat well & healthily this year” »


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A newly landscaped garden & JUST EAT app review

Well, that was a busy half-term week. My family and I spent the week at my mother’s house doing some major landscaping in the garden. We dug the uneven ground, we laid a patio, we shovelled gravel. We drilled, cut and nailed all week in order to create mum’s dream ‘garden room’, with raised beds, herb garden, trellis and even a chunky wood dining table! It took a full five days of everyone labouring hard, and last night we finally put our shovels away and stood back to admire our handiwork.landscaped garden room-3After more than twenty years in her home, mum finally had the garden of her dreams and although we were all exhausted by the end of the week, the result was worth it. I’ll be sure to share photos of the process with you soon but in the meantime I wanted to share a quick snap now that I can finally relax.

from this…                                   …to this

Continue reading “A newly landscaped garden & JUST EAT app review” »

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