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” »
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.
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.
The denim shoulder bag Continue reading “Guest Post – 3 Handmade Christmas gift ideas” »
Over the past month I’ve been busier than an elf in Santas workshop – yes, I’ve been DIYing lots of festive projects ready to share with you on the blog this December. And what better way to kick off the month than with a simple gift project – a felt camera case.This easy-sew project lets you create a custom-made case for your specific camera, with no difficult measuring or pattern-making. In fact, it couldn’t be easier – you simply lie the camera on the piece of felt, pin the pouch in place and stitch it up!I use straight stitch throughout the project so this can easily be done by hand or on a sewing machine. The fastening is sticky-backed velcro dots so no need to make a difficult button-hole, and the button I stitch onto the front flap is purely decorative, so you could even give this step a miss if you want to make the project even easier.All you need to make this quick and easy project is a piece of felt, pins, a needle and thread (or sewing machine), a button, velcro dots, a ruler and scissors. All the instructions are on the video so have a watch and pause (or rewind) the tutorial whenever you need to. And once you’ve got the basics, you can easily adapt this case to fit other things too; ipads, make-up, mobile phones and so on.
I know you’re all thinking about Christmas shopping by now. Well, I’m ready to get started on my annual gift hunt – I’ve even bought the wrapping paper! In my search for special gifts and thrifty treats I stumbled upon Discovered. This online marketplace recommended to me and I’m glad I took the time to check it out.
Like Etsy but connecting you with craftspeople all over the world, this online marketplace lists finely crafted gifts and homewares. You can discover handmade products by artisans from emerging countries such as India, Morocco and South Africa. But the main difference is that Discovered takes the idea of Fairtrade one step further; you can buy handicrafts direct from the maker.
The artisans on Discovered design, create and sell beautiful accessories, bags, jewellery and home decoration items. Every product that is sold on Discovered has its own, unique story and you won’t just find it in any other store. In addition, for every item they sell the artisans will receive a fair price because the supply chain is shortened; from the maker, via Discovered and to you.
Today I’m sharing the best deals on personalised gifts and DIY ideas for Fathers Day from around the internet. Yes, I’ve been doing all the hard work on your behalf, trawling site after site, and Pinterest board after Pinterest board, so that you don’t have to take up your precious time searching for the ideal gift for your dad. His ‘special day’ is coming up on Sunday 19th June so get clicking, ordering and making now to ensure you’ve got a treat to gift to dad on Father’s Day. Here’s what I found…
Whenever I have to find a special gift for anyone, I always turn to Etsy. You can’t beat it for personalised, handmade, can’t-find-it-anywhere-else presents. If I’m stuck for gift ideas, there will always be something on Etsy that is just right for the person I’m buying for. I have two tips for searching on Etsy: Firstly, refine your search using the toolbar on the left to narrow down the shop location. Enter ‘United Kingdom’ so that you only see shops based in the UK. This means you won’t have to pay extortionate shipping costs and you can be sure that the product will get to you as fast as possible, rather than waiting weeks for delivery. Secondly, enter the lowest and highest price you wish to pay for a gift. If I don’t do this, I find that I have to wade through pages and pages of low-cost small craft goods (like buttons and ribbons) before I get to any gifts. Here’s the link to the Father’s Day collection on EtsyUK – I hope you find something special there.
What about the things you can make yourself? The DIY projects that show Dad you really care? I’ve been searching Pinterest to dig up some easy and effective handmade gifts that you can craft this weekend to give to your pops on the 19th June. If you’re a dab-hand with the sewing machine, how about stitching up this Wool iPad case? The full tutorial is available on WeAllSew.com and would make a fantastic homemade gift for dad.
Or how about one of the easiest DIY projects I’ve ever seen – this Dinosaur planter? I watched the tutorial for this thrifty idea on The Sorry Girls’ YouTube channel a couple of weeks ago and I loved how simple it was to make, yet how effective the finished result is. Check out the full instructions and step-by-step DIY video on their blog – The Sorry Girls.
If you missed my blog post last month on living a cruelty-free life, you might be a little baffled by the title of this book review post. I’ve made the decision to make my life as cruelty-free as possible – cosmetics, food, toiletries, even household cleaning products – so when I was offered the chance to review Handmade Beauty (and share some of these thrifty recipes with you for free) I couldn’t resist. After all, what’s more cruelty-free than making your own, eh?!I’m also rather keen on the idea of knowing exactly what ingredients have gone into the products that I’m using on my face, hair and body. Having particularly sensitive skin, it’s sometimes hard for me to find ‘off the shelf’ products that are gentle enough for me. Even the fresh and almost-good-enough-to-eat products at LUSH are sometimes not quite right for me so I’d rather mix the ingredients together myself and know exactly what’s in there and what isn’t. Plus, I’m sure that I could probably be saving quite a lot of money by making my own scrubs, bath bombs, balms and hair treatments.Fair enough, my homemade beauty products might not last as long as ones packed with preservatives, but I can make smaller batches or mix up only the amount that I need at that moment. And never again will I have to throw away a half-used tub of fresh face mask because it’s gone a bit funky after sitting in my bathroom for two months longer than its use-by date, oops..!The book that I’ve been testing out is Handmade Beauty: Natural Recipes for Your Face, Body and Hair by Juliette Goggin and Abi Righton. Each recipe contains step-by-step instructions for mixing up your own lotions and potions – much like a cookery book – and tells you how long the finished product will last and how to store it . The authors even give advice for labelling and prettifying so that you can give away your handmade treats as gifts – another great money-saving tip!The two free PDF recipes that I’m sharing with you today really caught my eye, thanks to the interesting combination of fresh ingredients and easy-to-follow instructions. The first is for a really delicious-sounding Hair Rinse with Beer, Lemon and Rosemary and the second recipe is a Pineapple and Yoghurt Smoothie Clay Mask. Continue reading “Book Review: Handmade Beauty (& keeping life cruelty-free by making my own)” »
What better time to celebrate your best friends than on Galentine’s Day? Yes, that’s right, I said GALentine’s Day. If you’ve not heard of it yet, it’s simply putting a name to what we’ve all being doing for years; celebrating our friends. I’ve seen so many more Galentine’s-related treats being shared on Pinterest this year; in fact, I’ve hardly paid any attention to Valentine’s Day at all. Whether or not your pal is loved-up or single, I’m sure you have a wonderful friend who deserves a bit of extra love this February. I certainly welcome the chance to celebrate my girl friends and thank them for all the support they give me throughout the year. And what better way to show them you care, than by throwing a cute Galentine’s party? Today I wanted to share my ideas for a cosy hot chocolate party; a night in with your pals, scoffing all the naughty treats you usually resist during the rest of the year. I know I waffle on about eating healthily, but enjoying a little of what you fancy every now and again is just as important as eating the good-for-you things. Your Galentine’s Day get-together is the ideal time to indulge and provide some tasty treats for your favourite peeps. So here’s a couple of new hot chocolate flavours that I’m adding to my Galentine’s menu:
Salted caramel: Make up a steaming mug of hot chocolate and add a splash of caramel syrup. I had a set of 5 small syrups that I was given as a birthday gift a while ago, but you can buy a similar set at Amazon (such as these Monin Syrups for Coffee). Add one crunch of sea salt (don’t go crazy with the salt otherwise you’ll end up with a savoury hot chocolate). Next is the fun part; stir in chunks of caramel chocolate bar and let them melt for a really indulgent treat. Top with whipped cream, marshmallows and crumbled up flake. Mmm.
Cherry bakewell: There are two options for this hot chocolate flavour – saintly or boozy! Add a splash of vanilla syrup to a mug of hot chocolate and then decide whether you add a splash of amaretto-flavoured syrup or a shot of Disaronno! Stir it into the hot chocolate to get that really cherry-marzipan flavour before topping with cream, chocolate and cherries. If you have a bakewell tart hanging around you could crumble some of the cake onto the cream too. Yum!
How cute are these smiley mugs? I got them from Continue reading “Galentine’s Day party & flavoured hot chocolate recipes” »
Did you ever read ‘The Christmas Book’ as a child? I am reading it right now! I’ve been treated to a couple of pre-Christmas gifts so that I could enjoy them before the big day, and this vintage book was one of my Christmas eve presents. I’ve taken some quick snaps to show you just how quaint and traditional this retro publication is!I’ve tried to research the book and have come up with the following information; It’s published by Juvenile Productions Ltd in London, designed and printed in England and dates back to the 1950s. I’ve found it listed on The Enid Blyton Society website, and one of the festive tales in the book is by Enid Blyton herself – ‘The Christmas Bicycle. The book is a collection of festive short stories for children and other authors include; Michael Lisle with ‘The Christmas Chicken’ story, Helen J. Wright with ‘ The Old Lantern’, John Hornby with ‘The Secret Camp’ and David A. Vick with ‘The Christmas Rescue’.There are also adorable activities suggested in the book, such as tracing around an illustration of Father Christmas to make a ‘Santa Claus on Snowshoes’ decoration, Christmas card idea, a silver chain project and crafting ‘The Snowman’s Cottage’. I’d love to experience Christmas eve just like a 1950s child and have a go at making some skiing Santa decorations myself! The Christmas Book is littered with gorgeous illustrations by G. Higham. Each story is illustrated, small comic strips entertain young readers and puzzle pictures offer brain-teasing fun. The illustrations alone were enough to get me flicking through the book and I’d love to scan them to recreate the images in my future festive decorating. Legends and stories of Christmas are told throughout the book and children can learn about festive events in other countries too – this book must have been quite an education in the 50s!
While reading this gorgeous vintage book, I’ve been snacking on a lovely gift of mini Lindt Christmas figures including Father Christmas, a cute snowman and, of course, the Lindt bear! I love to enjoy a cheeky chocolate or two on Christmas eve to get me in the mood for the big day tomorrow! I’ve also been treated to a gorgeous new jumper from Damart. I ‘needed’ to have this Christmas gift a little early because it’s ideal for me to wear to my Christmas eve gathering with family. It’s super-soft and the rich ruby red colour is perfect for the holidays. Add a little sparkle to the mix and you’ve got a winning Christmas jumper! I’m going to pop it on right now, and probably won’t take it off for the whole season 😉Have you opened any early pre-Christmas gifts today? What treats did you enjoy? And did you ever read The Christmas Book as a child? Let me know what you’re getting up to today and what you think of my early gifts by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me @Cassiefairy.
It’s that time of year again – gift guide time! I know you’ll all be shopping for presents this week (I know I am!) and if you’re not already ‘all shopped out’ after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I’m sure you’ll appreciate a few ideas I’m sharing today. First up is a gift for everyone – your mum, colleague, friend or teacher. It’s a gorgeous Christmas mug from The Caravan Trail. Available in two styles, including a massive ‘Merry Christmas’ crush mug and cute gift boxed spice mug, with two equally festive designs, these cute cups are ideal for the person who had everything. You can bet that they won’t already have these ‘new in’ designs and will love the Christmas prints! Starting at £6 these are a great stocking filler gifts and would be fabulous as a “his ‘n’ hers” present for couples. The mugs are available to buy now on The Caravan Trail website. Fancy sipping your candy cane hot chocolate from one of these stunning mugs yourself? Well, the good news is that you can win one in my gift guide giveaway! Read on to enter via the Rafflecopter widget below!You may have guessed from my previous blog posts over the years that I love ChattyFeet socks as a gift for friends and colleagues. Happily the guys at ChattyFeet have created a fabulous artist gift set, and seeing as my hubby is an art graduate and photographer, I know he’ll love this box. Characters include Vincent Van Toe, Andy Sock-Hole, Frida Callus and Feetasso and I can’t help laughing at their funny faces packaged up in this ‘exhibition in a box’! A lot of their cheeky characters come in tiny sizes for the little ones too so I’d recommend ChattyFeet for cute parent-and-child gift sets this Christmas. There’s a character for every personality – divas, scientists, superheros and famous faces – so you’ll be sure to find a matching sock for your friends, colleagues or every member of your family! My top choices for books this year are these home decorating inspiration books published by Jacqui Small. I’ve been swooning over the Vintage Home book for a while so I’m sure it will go down well with the retro fans & interior design enthusiasts in your life. The book offers fantastic inspiration for including 20th century design classics in your modern home decorating projects. I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a very ‘me’ book! It’s packed full of gorgeous photos and makeover ideas so really do think that I’m going to be keeping it for myself, haha! The second book I’d like to recommend is Shed Décor. It’s all about decorating and furnishing your favourite garden room to turn your shed into a peaceful sanctuary. I laughed when I first spotted this title because my husband loves his shed sooo much, so I knew it would be the perfect for gift him. But it’s not just for men and their sheds – it’s great for us girls too. Remember my beach hut style shed I installed earlier this year? Well, now that I’ve gained some valuable advice from this book, I’m going to make it into a pretty, relaxing space for the summer! I bet that someone in your life will love this book; dad, grandma, friend, brother etc so check it out for the shed enthusiast in your life. Continue reading “Christmas gift guide 2015” »
In our house the countdown to Christmas has begun. Not only am I super-excited that my favourite time of year is less than 10 weeks away, but I’m preparing myself in a thrifty sense too. We all know that the cost of Christmas can soon add up so this month I’ve started buying gifts to spread the cost. Plus, I’ve treated myself to some festive craft kits to help me and my family get into the festive spirit in the run up to December – well, you can never have too many handmade baubles can you?! Decorations aside, today I want to share with you some ideas for saving money this festive season and hopefully help with your financial planning too..!
It may seem a little soon to be thinking about plans for Christmas; after all, we’ve not even got Halloween or Bonfire Night out of the way yet! But planning ahead is a sure-fire way to make certain that you don’t overspend this Christmas. It allows you to save over the coming weeks, spread the cost and prevent costly impulse shopping at the last minute. With the average family spending £820 on Christmas (statistic from an interesting infographic by Alexander & Co accountants in Manchester) that can be a big hit on your bank account all at once so here are some ways to save a little cash this year while still enjoying the run-up to the big day.