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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It’s National Experience Week – what would you do? + giveaway

Ever fancied driving around the Grand Prix track at Silverstone? Have you thought about learning a new skill? Or do you just like the idea of trying out a new restaurant for dinner? Just what would you choose if you could try out ANY new experience? It’s #NationalExperienceWeek and this has got me thinking about my own dream destinations and new things I’d love to try out so today I’m sharing what I would do if I could do anything at all. And the good news is that it IS possible to kick-start your bucket list this month thanks to Into The Blue, who are running a giveaway to win any dream experiences worth up to £1000 so check out their competition page now.

National Experience Week runs from 17th – 26th April so it’s the perfect excuse to get over those post-bank-holiday blues by trying out something you’ve never done before. The ethos behind this week-long celebration is that everyone should have an exciting day out every once in a while, especially with big celebrations like Christmas and resolution-building New Year so far behind us. It’s a great excuse to treat yourself, have a little fun and try something new. Here’s what I’m planning:Segway Adventure

Okay, okay, if you’ve been reading my blog for a while you’ll know that I’ve tried out segway-ing (is that the correct term?) at Thetford Forest in the past. I can’t explain how amazing it was to be whizzing through the woods with the wind in my hair; I loved every second of it and have been bursting to go on another segway adventure as soon as I can. But this time, I want to do extreme segway. It’s faster, rougher terrain and I can’t wait to swerve and jump around an extreme course. Plus, I’ve just discovered the possibility of going on a trek with an all-terrain segway – bring it on!

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Book review: Urban Flowers + win a copy!

This week I’ve got my hands on the newly released gardening book ‘Urban Flowers’ by Carolyn Dunster. A very thrifty DIY-focussed book, it contains hundreds of ideas for making the most of your outdoor space, no matter how little garden you have. And the good news is that you can win a copy in my giveaway so read on to enter the competition below…In this book, Carolyn demonstrates how it is possible to turn even the smallest space into a blooming urban paradise with colourful flowers and a thriving habitat for wildlife too. So whether you’ve got a patch in the countryside or a balcony in the city, you’ll be sure to find a handy project in this book.
Urban Flowers helps to identify which plants will grow best in your garden and, the thing I found most interesting about the book, it provides planting ‘recipes’ to create colourful palettes of blooms all year round. I’ve always wondered how some gardens look great in every season and now I know how to do it for myself!

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More than chocolate eggs – Easter gifts ideas + win £40 of jewellery!

With Easter fast approaching, my thoughts have turned to chocolate eggs and rabbit-shaped iced biscuits. I love making marshmallow ‘nests’ with my niece and nephew, and an Easter cheesecake is a must in our household. But this year, I thought I’d consider some Easter gifts that are more than just edible treats. I’d love to receive something that costs the same as a chocolate egg but that will last me all year instead so I’ve shared my ideas in this blog post. PLUS you could win £40 to spend on anything you like at JewelleryBox.co.uk. Considering that they’ve got a fantastic under £5 section, you should be able to stock up on a few beautiful things for yourself too!

image by Popcorn & Glitter

This year I’m saying ‘no thanks’ to the chocolate (okay, maybe a handful of mini-eggs, but that’s it…) and yes please to some alternative gifts. In particular, I quite fancy getting some new jewellery this year. It doesn’t have to be Easter-themed (although the selection of fun Easter bunny earrings start at £4.95) and I’d be happy with any of these cool stacker rings or ‘love’ bangles.


One of my favourite pieces on the site is this honeycomb design. It’s available as a necklace, bracelet or earrings in 9ct gold, sterling silver or rose gold. It feels really spring-like without being OTT on the rabbits and flowers. Although I’m not a huge wearer of jewellery, I do like to wear the occasional special piece and I love the rose gold pieces I discovered. At least know where I want my birthday present to come from anyway!

I’ve also been looking on Etsy for some non-food related gifts for the little ones (and us bigger crafty folk too!). This Easter bunny kit looks like great fun for a start. It contains everything you’d need to make an adorable little soft rabbit – wouldn’t that be fun to make over Easter? It’ll keep the kids entertained for a little while at least! I also LOVE this cross-stitch kit for older kids, aunts and grandmas alike. It’s a skill I wish I could do, and I’d love to give this colourful spring sewing project a go.

Or if you fancy baking an Easter gift for your friends and family, why not try out some of my recipes? Cupcakes, meringues and iced biscuits all make lovely presents when presented in lovely wrapping. You could make fresh blueberry and lemon muffins in cute paper cases to hand out to the little ones. My dark chocolate meringue cookies look lovely when packaged in greaseproof paper and tied with a pretty ribbon. At the very least, you could make a batch of these recipes to share as part of your Easter Sunday dinner.And now, on to the part you’ve been waiting for – the giveaway. I’ve chatted to the wonderful people at JewelleryBox.co.uk and they are delighted to provide a prize for Cassiefairy.com readers. One lucky winner will be given £40 credit to spend on ANY jewellery they like! The giveaway runs until the end of Easter Monday so you could win a lovely Easter gift for yourself. There are plenty of ways to enter via the Rafflecopter widget below so enter now- good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to UK residents only, competition runs from 7th April 2017 – 17th April 2017, winner will be chosen at random from all entries via Rafflecopter and contacted via email. The winner will need to provide a UK delivery address to receive their prize.


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Tuesday Shoes – Springtime pumps with a sporty sole + WIN any pair of Strive footwear!

My spring essentials are pumps. I’ve lived in my tan brogue boots and my hiking trainers all winter but now that the weather is warming up and the clocks have gone forward I’m confident that it’s time to switch over to springtime shoes. So that’s what I’m talking about in today’s Tuesday Shoesday blog post, plus I’m giving you the opportunity to win ANY pair shoes from StriveFootwear.com in my giveaway so read on to find out how to enter this fab giveaway..!Now it’s not yet time for summer sandals, but my usual boots are too heavy for this transitional season; what I really need is a pair of pumps. I usually live in flats throughout the spring and summer, so over the past few years I’ve got through countless pairs. You know the type; cheap, flimsy and prone to holes! Okay, I haven’t spent much money on these budget shoes (thank goodness, because I’m getting through the like a packet of biscuits) but ideally I’d like a pair to last me a season and save me the effort of taking regular trips to the shops.After wearing Strive trainers in my day-to-day life, I concluded that the brand might be the solution for my spring/summer pumps too. I knew they make comfy sandals but I hadn’t ever investigated their shoe collection. Thankfully, the brand didn’t disappoint and I managed to find a pair of Hampton flats in the new season collection.

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Tuesday Shoesday – 100 years of Converse All-Stars

Did you know that 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the famous Converse All-Star high-top trainers? I didn’t either until I started Googling “Converse” when I was looking for a gift for my husband. A quick search not only brought up a whole host of classic designs to choose from but also a whole lot of history about the brand itself. I’m such a geek when it comes to gaining knowledge about the things I buy so I delved deeper to find out more. Read on to find out what I discovered about Converse…Let’s take it back to the very beginning; The Converse Rubber Shoe Company (to give the brand it’s full, original title) opened its doors back in 1908 in the US, making all kinds of athletic shoes before specialising in tennis shoes in 1915. This early success led the company to develop new styles of sports shoes with rubber soles… I think you know where I’m going with this! It was in 1917 that the Converse All-Star Basketball shoes were introduced. And when basketball player Chuck Taylor put his name behind the brand in 1920, the high-top style really started to take off. It was no longer just a shoe for playing sports in. Oh no.
Over the years the iconic design has become the footwear of choice for off-duty fashionistas and is the ultimate in casual cool. Fans started customising their All-Stars to make them their own and the style was reproduced in countless new fabrics, patterns and colours. Nowadays you can even have your own design made just for you by Converse using the customizer tool on their website.

Enter my £50 giveaway below…

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Valentine’s gifts & an idea for a romantic evening at home

With Valentine’s Day coming up next week on the 14th February, I thought I would share some ideas with you for an inexpensive night in with your other half.If you want to avoid the crowds in busy restaurants and don’t fancy filling your home with heart-shaped mugs and pink teddy bears, this could be the solution to both your Valentine’s gifts and evening celebration. Read on to find out more and to enter my Valentine’s giveaway to win a fabulous prize bundle from Dartington Crystal and Bolsius candles. I’m talking about an at-home wine tasting. Or beer tasting. Or simply a mocktail evening, if that’s what you fancy. Pop on some music, light some candles and start sipping! The candles create a relaxed atmosphere and will transform your living room or kitchen into a cosy, intimate space for conversation to flow. Spending time together is the nicest thing about Valentine’s Day, so take this opportunity to have a good old catch-up without the distraction of the TV or internet. Of course, this type of evening in would be lovely whatever the occasion, whether it’s a birthday, your wedding anniversary or just a Friday night. Drinks-wise, you could treat yourselves to a bottle of wine, or go for the mini-bottles (like my tiny Prosecco bottle – just the right amount for two!) if you want to cut costs. This will also help to minimise wastage if you can’t drink a whole bottle on a school night..! Continue reading “Valentine’s gifts & an idea for a romantic evening at home” »


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Map Geek – Make it personal with romantic maps

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll already know what a geek I am when it comes to maps. Old, new and anything inbetween – maps are intriguing, enticing and informative. I’m the kind of person who wanders over to information maps on footpaths or in city centres and looks like a total tourist, but really I’m just interested in the map itself. Why is it here? What’s nearby? Any special information? Someone has taken the time to make that map and put it there, so surely there’s a reason that’s worth investigating. So it probably comes as no surprise that I also love to have maps in my own home too, and that’s where Mapify comes in. Read on to find out more about my Valentine’s map and how you can win your very own personalised map created just for you by Mapify in my giveaway – and there’s THREE prizes to be won!Thankfully, my husband is equally interested in maps, so when there’s an museum exhibit of old relief maps in the Lake District, or an exhibition of Max Gill’s famous street maps at The Lettering Arts Centre we are first in the queue to see it. I guess we’re well suited to each other, eh? So what better gift could I get for my husband this Valentine’s Day than a personalised map? Well, I’m pleased to say that it IS possible to create your own map of any location throughout the whole world, and have a fantastic quality print on your wall in a matter of days. Mapify is the serviceI used to make this special gift, and here’s how I did it.

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Books, books, books – What I got for Christmas & first impressions

I guess I was quite adamant when I said I only wanted books for Christmas, huh? Because that’s what I got – and piles of ’em! So you can imagine how thrilled I am to start the new year with a stack of books to read and plenty of reviews to bring you throughout 2017. I’m just about to finish reading Dave Gorman Versus The Rest of The World so I’m excited to dive straight into these new books. Here’s what I received and my first impressions:book review 2016 2017 books tim peake amy schumer caitlin moran gretchen rubin-3Caitlin Moran – Moranifesto

I’ve read most of Moran’s books and this one has been on my wishlist since it was published in March 2016. I didn’t buy it straight away though because I find hardbacks more cumbersome to read and I was waiting for the paperback version to come out. How long would I have to wait? While I was browsing a book store in Ely in November I found this signed first edition and pointed it out to hubby. Thankfully he took the hint and managed to snaffle it for me without me knowing! Can’t wait to get started on this one.book review 2016 2017 books tim peake amy schumer caitlin moran gretchen rubin-9Tim Peake – Hello, is this planet Earth?

As someone who followed Tim Peake’s mission religiously (and was giddy with excitement when I met him only a couple of days after he returned to the UK) you can imagine how excited I was to unwrap this book. It’s a chunky square book full of beautiful photographs taken by Tim during his time on the international space station. The cover is a shiny hardback (which I think looks a little bit cheap or unofficial) but when you open the pages, it’s full of stunning photos alongside Tim’s own words about the images and locations. I’d actually recommended this book to mum as a suitable present for my husband, but it was actually him who bought it for me. Good thing we didn’t all buy it for each other!book review 2016 2017 books tim peake amy schumer caitlin moran gretchen rubin-7

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Homemade upcycled gifts – How to make a memory bear using baby clothes

What do you get for your niece and nephew when you’re the coolest aunt in the world? Why, handmade teddy bears, of course! It’s a project that has been six months in the making and now the bears are finally wrapped up and flying across the sea to reach the little ones in Ireland in time for Christmas. Now, I’m not saying that it took me six months to actually sew the bears – the making part is quite a simple process (thanks to the new teddy bear pattern I used) – it was all the planning that went into the project that took some time and I’ll tell you why.homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-16homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-1I wanted to make a keepsake teddy bear for each child, so I wanted them to be personalised in some way. When I first opened up the pattern I could see that it would be easy to make the pattern pieces fit into items of my niece and nephew’s clothing. What better way to make a personalised gift, and to upcycle old clothing at the same time, than to reuse their baby clothes to make them a teddy bear? I asked their parents if they had any of their tiny outfits left, and luckily they did. I asked for non-stretchy items (which are easier to sew) and it wasn’t long before a bag of baby clothes arrived.homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-17 homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-3I got the newly launched Charlie teddy bear pattern from Amazing Craft and studied the instructions from front to back before getting started. There’s only a handful of pattern pieces and the construction seemed so much more straightforward than bear patterns I’ve used in the past. I was eager to get started and see just how the pattern worked. I’m pleased to report that this is the most simple-to-use set of instructions, and having fewer pattern pieces meant much less tacking, pinning and fiddling. I whizzed up the arms and legs in no time at all. The body is the only piece that has any darts in it, and even then there’s only two small darts so it’s really uncomplicated to construct. I guess the pattern does what it says on the cover – it truly is ‘bear making for beginners’ and it couldn’t be easier to follow. It’s available as printed instructions (which I got, at £6.99) or as a digital download to print at home for only £4.99.homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-12homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-2homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-15 The little trousers were the perfect base to make the arms and legs of the teddies – the linen fabric wasn’t at all stretchy and I could make a feature out of the details on the trousers. I positioned the pattern pieces so that my niece’s bear would have the spotty trim from the trousers around the outside of the paws, and my nephew’s bear has tiny pockets on the legs. I could even reuse the lining of my nephew’s trousers to make a soft inner arm, and I added little monster designs from his tiny t-shirt to make contrasting paws and feet. I used a floral baby-grow to make the insides my of niece’s bear’s arms and even the bears’ ears have a patterned underside.homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-14 homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-19homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-4I wanted the bears to be safe for the little ones to carry around, so I got some safety eyes and plastic safety joints from Amazing Craft. This means that the head, arms and legs are poseable and the eyes can’t be bitten off because they pop together and clamp into place. In fact, I couldn’t even get the joints apart again if I tried! My tip for using these is to get the position of the arms and legs right first time, because you won’t be able to take them off again if they’re in the wrong place, so double-check the position before pushing the joints together. Soaking the joints in hot water for a minute will make them a littler easier to pop together. The plastic joints are also safe to go in the washing machine, which is good news because we all know how mucky kid’s teddies get!homemade-handmade-sewing-project-teddy-bears-ted-amazing-craft-bear-pattern-diy-gift-project-7

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Guest Post – 3 Handmade Christmas gift ideas

Shopping for Christmas gifts need not be an expensive activity, in fact it it an opportunity for a having little thrifty fun. It’s often the case that the best presents are not very expensive, but are chock full of sentimental feelings; something that can help to bring up funny memories and remind you of beloved relatives. So instead of shopping for new items, see what you already have at home that might made a charming gift with just a little tweaking. Upcycled milk crates and wine boxes work well to form makeshift hampers, and you only need a couple of mason jars to create everything from wall sconces to air fresheners. Here are three things that everyone needs but that you can create by hand. patchwork-poncho

Old jumpers can be upcycled into a thrifty patchwork poncho

The patchwork poncho

If you have loads of old clothes that are too worn to give away to the charity shops, but yet you can’t stomach the thought of just throwing them out, this next project is just for you. Being able to sew a throw pillow would be an accomplishment for most, but the patchwork poncho is even easier to make. The idea is to take as many different colored squares of fabric from old shirts, pillow cases, winter jumpers and any other clothing you don’t want. If you remember to sew all of the patches on the same side, your stitch work can be ‘rustic’ but your poncho will still look chic.denim-tote-bag-tutorial

See the step-by-step tutorial for this denim tote bag on Vicky Myers’ website.

The denim shoulder bag  Continue reading “Guest Post – 3 Handmade Christmas gift ideas” »

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