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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My upcycled picture frame breakfast tray project is in Reloved Magazine!

I’m delighted to share with you some pics of my latest project in Reloved magazine. This month I made a breakfast-in-bed tray as a romantic treat for Valentine’s Day. What do you think??I upcycled an old picture frame and turned it into a breakfast tray by removing the glass, and decoupaging old book pages (a falling-apart copy of Jane Eyre and a Marilyn Monroe biography, if you’re interested!) onto the back-board. It’s a similar effect to the book-page feature wall I created in my bedroom – if you missed that blog post you can check it out here.I added a couple of decorative handles (taken off some old drawers that used to be in my mum’s kitchen!) and gave the whole tray a protective coat of sealing varnish.

The full step-by-step guide to making the picture frame tray for yourself can be found in Issue 39 of Reloved magazine, and if you’re quick you can still pick it up in the shops this week. The next issue comes out on 23rd Feb, so you’ve not got long to grab a copy!Here’s some photos of the magazine itself – I’m always SO thrilled to be featured in print and see my projects shared with so many thrifty readers. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing my name on the page as ‘the designer’ – eeee!

My one-cup teapot set is from The Caravan Trail – lovely bright colours for Spring!

The next of Reloved (Issue 40) is out this week and contains lots of lovely Spring and Easter-themed upcycling projects so be sure to check that out too!


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My “Take 10” interview in Reloved magazine

Hi all, how has your week been?  Today I thought I’d quickly shared my ‘Take 10’ interview about upcycling and thriftiness from Reloved magazine in case you didn’t get a chance to pick up a copy of Issue 38 last month. My project on restoring leather was also in the January issue, with the aim of bringing old furniture back to ‘good-as-new’ in the New Year. If you want to have a read of the step-by-step guide I’ve shared it on my blog so you can check out the photos and instructions for the leather restoration project herereloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-1reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-2The good news is that I’ve got another project being published in the magazine soon so keep an eye out for Issue 39 of Reloved in the newsagents and online this week. Here’s the “Take 10” page in full so you can read my answers to the interview questions – SO excited to be featured!reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-4-2 reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-5


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How to create a functional workspace at home

There are lots of reasons why you might need to work from home, but whatever the reason, you will need a functional workspace. It is impossible to study an online course, do your business accounts or even write a blog if you don’t have somewhere quiet to sit and work. And if you’re a student with lots of assignments to write it makes sense to carve out a work space where you can settle down, out of the way of the rest of the family, and study. So if you have just enrolled on a further education course, started a writing your first novel or just launched your business here are some tips to help you create a functional workspace in your home.fun-home-study-office-design-inspiration

A fun home office makes you want to work there!

Bedroom study

Bedrooms make useful studies because they are out of the way and you can shut the door on the rest of your family. And likewise you can close the door on your work at the end of the day to really give yourself a chance to rest and relax. A guest bedroom is a better choice than the main bedroom, as it is never a good idea to sleep and work in the same space! If you do study in your bedroom, it can make it hard to switch off when it is time for sleep, and vice versa.small-tiny-home-office-under-stairs

Use any available space for your home office

Study under the stairs

The space under the stairs is often under-utilized. If the space under your stairs is open, why not install a desk and turn it into a small study area? All you need are some shelves for books, a light, and a power outlet so you can plug your computer in. And if you want to be able to forget about your work for the evening, you could even fit double doors to the alcove to allow you to close it away. Continue reading “How to create a functional workspace at home” »


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Personal Development – Here’s my card… the importance of networking

Welcome to the weekend everyone! It’s time for me to remind you about work on Monday morning and let you know what you can do right now to help you achieve your career goals. After all (I’ve seen this quote literally everywhere last month) ‘dreams don’t work unless you do’. Okay, I know you just want one day off but I promise it’ll be worth it if you do a little hustling on the weekends too. Here’s why it’s good to network and what you can do today to get started:how-to-network-like-a-proIt’s not what you know, it’s who you know

Honestly, most of the best opportunities I’ve worked on have come from knowing the right people. Okay, maybe I didn’t know that they were the ‘right’ people when I met them, but when the time came for them to commission a new project, I was the girl they called! Am I just lucky, being in the right place at the right time? No! I actually had to get up, go to events, meet people, chat in real life and maintain those relationships. Thankfully for me, it’s not a chore; I love finding like-minded souls and catching up with them on a regular basis, because the life of a self-employed gal can be quite a lonely one. Having that human connection makes me happy and, honestly, most of the people who started out as business acquaintances are now good friends.tips-and-hacks-how-to-network-like-a-pro-things-you-need-for-networking

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Personal Development – 3 reasons for learning at home

Over the years I’ve done a lot of studying online. I’ve studied branding, community journalism, IT and marketing, to name just a few. And, no surprise, I’ve completed a course in Personal Development via distance learning too. I studied the course, completed assessments and gained a qualification without ever meeting a tutor or any other students. For some of you, it may feel a little lonely to miss out on that human connection and social interaction with your peers but don’t worry; you can communicate with other course members through forums and email.personal-development-learning-at-home-studying-study-online-courseFor me it was a really convenient way to learn; it meant that I could study as little or as much as I liked, and could complete the course in less time as I wasn’t attending a certain number of lessons or spending time on class discussions. Plus, once I’d competed each course, I could proudly add it to my CV. I really like this way of learning and here a three reasons why you should consider it too:

Paper-free studying – The course materials are all the same as with a regular course, just that you’re able to experience them ‘paper-free’. No more textbooks or journals cluttering up your home, or files full of notes on your desk. With online learning it’s all contained within your laptop and assessments are usually online or submitted via email. Continue reading “Personal Development – 3 reasons for learning at home” »


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Personal development – Which career is right for you?

It’s all about careers on the blog this week – did you spot my article last weekend all about learning as you earn?? I think it’s the whole ‘back-to-school’ feeling I get in September that makes me want to think about jobs, studying, careers and personal development. So today we’re finding out how you can tell if a job is right for you and whether or not you should pursue it as a future career. personal-development-career-quiz-dream-job-girlboss-inspirationFinding the right career is always a challenge, unless you make a clear plan to help you achieve your goals. It is important to find out what job will make you happy as well as successful. It is also helpful to know what types of jobs will match your skills and what is best suited for you. You can take tests to find this out or use a job search engine such as Jobrapido to help you in your job search and give you some ideas of jobs you might never have known existed!

One important thing to remember is that although your career is a set of plans and ideas, it’s not realistic to think of it as a linear path. Often we feel like we need to find our dream career straight away but most of the time different jobs will take us to our dream career. display-272270

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Personal development – Learn as you earn

Are you currently working in a job you enjoy? Perhaps you’re an intern, or are working on a gap year, or just starting out in a new full-time role. Maybe you’ve already bagged your dream job and the only way is up? No matter what stage in your career, if you want to continue to work in your sector and develop new skills in order to progress up there is something you can do right now to become more talented at your current role. It’ll help you become a valued employee in the organisation you’re working for, earn you a pay rise and make you more employable in the future. What is it? Learning as you work.learn as you earn personal development career skillsThey say that there’s no longer a ‘job for life’, and that is partially true. Compared to our grandparents’ generation, who may have had the same role in the same factory for 50 years, it’s unlikely that this is how our working lives will pan out. But there IS such a thing as a career for life. And yes, there is difference! It’s about finding the job that makes you feel like you’re not really working because you enjoy it so much (for me, that’s writing) and sticking with that career for your whole life. You can change companies, work freelance, do work on different projects and collaborate with various people but, essentially, everything you do is linked to your ‘career’. When you start to see it like that, you can identify ways to learn from every experience you have.

Think of it this way, your CV is a work in progress. Okay, usually we only write a CV at the start of our working lives, once the education part is out of the way. We might update it with work experience when we look for a new job, but it rarely gets much attention other than that. I personally like to update my CV every year. Even though I work freelance and never really apply for jobs, it’s still a great way to keep track of the skills I’ve learnt from the projects I’ve worked on throughout the year. And the getting the most out of every project is the key point – learn as you work and you’ll add more and more value to your ‘offer’ as an employee.skills to learn career development personal knowledge

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My Little Vintage Caravan – My storage article in Caravan Magazine

Wooo my little vintage caravan has made it into the June issue of Caravan Magazine. My little blue Sprite is becoming quite the celebrity in the touring world! I’m excited to share the article with you today and show off my little renovation project again.caravan magazine cassiefairy alpine sprite camper trailer makeover renovation project-2So here it is: a double-page spread! In the article I discuss the progress of my caravan makeover and how difficult it had been to find storage that would fit. Aside from my very tiny desk (which had a pastel pink makeover and a patchwork interior) I couldn’t find any storage cupboards that would even fit through the door of the caravan. Even if I could have manoeuvred a chest of drawers in through the window, most items of furniture are too deep for the narrow space in the caravan. A standard piece of furniture would stick out too far into the centre of the caravan and cause a bottleneck into the space. I needed a space that I could use for crafting, cutting out patterns and sewing, so I didn’t want to fill up all the room with furniture.caravan magazine cassiefairy alpine sprite camper trailer makeover renovation project-4That said, I did need storage. Somewhere to store my fabrics, ribbons, books, paperwork, buttons and bobbins – along with my Maneki Neko collection of course. So what was the solution? Why, children’s furniture, of course! It’s smaller and more narrow than conventional furniture so it fits in the limited space nicely. Plus, it’s flat-pack furniture so I could take it into the caravan in pieces and construct it in-situ. I wrote all about my new caravan storage solution on my blog so have a read, check out all the photos and let me know what you think of this idea.caravan magazine cassiefairy alpine sprite camper trailer makeover renovation project-5And if you get hold of a copy of Caravan Magazine this June, please let me know what you think of my first article too. It’s also online at OutandAboutLive.co.uk so you can have a read of the full article there too. It’s very exciting for me, and I’d love to know what kind of a response it’s had so please get in touch by leaving me a comment below or by tweeting me @Cassiefairy. caravan magazine cassiefairy alpine sprite camper trailer makeover renovation project-6


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Cost-saving ideas for setting up your own business

Fancy setting up a business of your own? Do you daydream of sleek white offices or cute boutique shops where you’re the boss? Perhaps you’ve got amazing skills in crafting, sewing or design and everyone keeps telling you that you should do it as a job. Or maybe you’ve been working in an industry for so long that you know it inside out and just know that you could do a better job working for yourself. If you’ve been thinking about setting up a business there are plenty of things to consider long before you take the plunge and I’d love to chat through a few of these with you today.

setting up an online retail business from home

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Setting up your online store

These days many business start out online and grow their customer base before requiring a physical store. So if you’re thinking about creating a website, I’d definitely recommend doing your research before buying a domain, a hosting plan, e-commerce package or site-building software. Some are more user-friendly than others – so you’d be able to design the website yourself and save money – while some might have hidden charges for future updates or for adding more data storage as your business grows. An easy way to dip your toes in is to list your products on already-established retail sites such as Etsy, Folksy, Not On the High Street or even Ebay. You’ll pay different fees for selling via these sites but it may be less expensive than setting up your own e-commerce site and customers will be able to find you more easily.

The internet is THE best place to promote your business so use all the free resources to get your name out there. You definitely want to link a blog to your e-commerce site, because the regularly updated content on a blogroll is great for SEO and will help increase your ranking on Google. There are plenty of free social media platforms you can use to promote your business – think Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+ etc.etsy tips for starting a business online

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Save money with better storage

Finding ways to save money should be one of the focuses of every business manager and owner. When it comes to providing adequate storage for a business, this can be a cost-saving measure in its own right. All sorts of costs drop as a result of increased capacity in storage or a more rational approach to keeping stored items in good order. First of all, handling errors are minimised by staff when storage is laid out well. They tend to be able to find the components they need or able to fulfil customer orders more rapidly. This means greater productivity which, in turn, means you need fewer staff, thus saving money.

In addition, well laid-out storage of paper records, stock and goods-out areas means that mistakes are made less frequently. Having to fix something that has gone wrong is so much more costly to businesses than getting it right first time! High-quality storage improves efficiency, leads to better customer fulfilment and reduces costs year on year.packaging ideas for online retail business

Minimise processing costs

There will always be costs associated with businesses who are retailing online, as you need to get the product to the customer quickly and in great condition. So shopping around for suitable suppliers of low-cost boxes, packaging, tape, tissue paper, packing materials and anything else you need to pack up an order (ribbons and personalised stickers are a cute touch) is essential. It might be easy to stick with the first company you speak to, but if you’ve got a quote from one supplier, why not get in touch with a couple more to see if they can match or beat the price. You may find it beneficial to stick with a local company – even if a national brand DOES end up being a littler cheaper – because you’ll probably be able to get in touch with them more easily, develop good business relationships (perhaps there’s something you can do for them?) and if you need something in a hurry you can actually go straight to them to physically pick up a box of tape etc.

Delivery companies also should be compared before you start selling online, so that you know how much you should be charging for P&P. You could end up losing money if you just pluck a delivery charge out of the air! Postage costs vary wildly so it’s a good idea to pack, weigh and measure your product and then get quotes for the delivery. It could very well be easier to pop to the local post office each day, but if you’re sending out high volumes of products each day, perhaps having one courier collect all the parcels from you at once would be more convenient – and cheaper!packaging ideas for small online retail business

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