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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Pieday Friday – The Hairy Bikers’ coffee cake for Red Nose Day

Today’s recipe post comes directly from The Hairy Bikers, who have shared this recipe in aid of Comic Relief. The fundraising spectacular takes place on 24th March this year so you’ve got plenty of time to perfect your sponge cake before the big event! Without further ado I’m handing over to Si and Dave  to share their recipe – enjoy!
A deliciously moist, old-fashioned coffee and walnut cake is one of our very favourite treats and we like to make it with Camp chicory and coffee essence. If you can’t track this down in your local stores, use very strong black coffee instead. Make sure the walnuts you use are nice and fresh.

SERVES 12 – 65g walnut halves, 225g softened butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing, 225g caster sugar, 4 medium eggs, 225g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp Camp chicory and coffee essence

Icing – 150g softened butter, cubed, 300g icing sugar, sifted, 4 tsp Camp chicory and coffee essence,12 walnut halves

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.

  1. Butter two 20cm loose-based sandwich tins and line the bases with discs of baking parchment. Put the walnut halves in a food processor and blitz them into fairly fine crumbs, but don’t worry if there are a few larger pieces remaining. Tip the walnuts into a bowl.
  2. Put the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and coffee essence in a food processor and blend on the pulse setting until well combined and creamy. You may need to remove the lid once or twice and push the mixture down with a rubber spatula. Take care not to process for too long or you will end up with a heavy sponge.
  3. Add the blitzed walnuts to the batter and mix until just combined. If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop the nuts, tip all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, then beat like hell!
  4. Spoon the mixture evenly into the greased and lined tins and smooth the surface. Bake on the same shelf in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes or until the sponge is well risen and just beginning to shrink back from the sides of the tin.
  5. Remove the tins from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the cakes and turning them out onto a wire rack. Peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool completely.

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Pieday Friday – Kitchen mishaps

Over the years I’ve come realise that I’m quite a clumsy person. I trip over on flat pavements and I bruise myself almost daily by bumping into things. I’m a bit of a calamity but thankfully I’ve never seriously hurt myself or anyone around me. The worrying thing is when someone with a tendency to be slightly clumsy gets into the kitchen. Expect trouble, and lots of it! And that’s what I’m blogging about today: the mishaps and mistakes I’ve made in my kitchen and the reasons why it makes sense to stay focussed when you’re baking…pans-419249_1920Grills. Many a time I have turned on a grill to ‘pre heat’ without opening the grill door, or checking whether there’s already something under there. This is how my mum’s favourite frying pan (the one she’d owned for longer than she’s had me) ended up with its wooden handle on fire. Okay, I didn’t put it in there in the first place, but I did turn on the grill without checking that it was empty. Another frying pan handle met its doom in my grill recently when I was trying to brown the top of a Spanish omelette. It was all going great, with a crispy golden cheesy layer forming nicely, until the (not heat-proof, it turns out) handle started bubbling. Oops.muffins-480513_1920Hobs. Hobs are my worst enemy. They stay hot for far too long, and I regularly get scolded on the rim of hot pans. But the main problem I have with hobs is that they are not a work surface. Let me explain. In my home (in fact, in all of my previous homes) I have a small kitchen with not much work space. I therefore tend to use the back two hobs of the oven as an extra surface, which is where my kettle etc live when they are not in use. The trouble is when I turn on the front hob to cook a dish and start to wonder why my onions aren’t sizzling away. The smell of melting plastic soon helps me to realise that I’ve turned on the back hob by mistake. And chiseling the base of a molten coffee machine off the back hob made me realise that I’m always just a couple of minutes away from disaster when I cook.kettle-653673

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Decluttering my wardrobe by Swopping with Oxfam

A new campaign by Oxfam has just launched today and I’ve already been rummaging around in my wardrobe this morning in order to help raise money for Oxfam. The ask is so simple and I hope you can join me in supporting such a great cause. From 6th June Oxfam is asking the nation to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Marie Kondo by decluttering their wardrobes and donating any clothes not worn in a year to the charity’s Shwopping campaign.

Oxfam will then resell your unwanted clothes and the money raised will make a real difference to those who need it the most and help to end extreme poverty for good. I’m actually really pleased with efforts this morning – I was clearing out my wardrobe at 7am (enthusiastic, eh?!) and had taken some snaps of the process by 8am (see below!). And by 9am I was tapping away at my computer, writing this blog post! I really wanted to share the campaign with you today – the day it launched – because I’m hoping my photos will inspire you to do the same when you get home from work or college later today. At the very least I’ve got a tidy wardrobe now, thanks to Oxfam!

We all have clothes laying in the back of our wardrobes that we never wear and whilst we aren’t wearing them, someone else could be loving them again and, in turn, help Oxfam’s Water, Women and Work campaign for the most vulnerable people across the globe. Donated clothes will be resold in Oxfam shops on the high street, or on the Oxfam fashion website or in Oxfam festival shops. Clothes that can’t be resold will be reused in Frip Ethique, Oxfam’s social enterprise scheme in Senegal or in other countries around the world. And any clothes they can’t resell or reuse are sold in bulk to reprocessing companies to be reborn as mattress filling or carpet underlay. Whatever you donate will be used in the best possible way to raise much-needed funds for the charity.

You can donate clothes to Oxfam shops or take them into M&S stores and pop your unwanted clothes into their Shwopping boxes before you buy something new! You can actually collect ‘Sparks’ points when you Shwop at M&S if you show your donations at the till before you put them in the box, and if you donate a M&S item at an Oxfam shop, they will give you a discount vouncher for your next purchase at M&S – bonus! There are still approximately 114,000 garments thrown away in the UK every hour (can you believe it?!) so taking them to M&S or Oxfam is a much better use of these unwanted clothes than putting them into landfill. Both options are extremely convenient ways to donate to a great cause and will help Oxfam’s “ultimate goal” of recycling as many clothes as M&S sells – that’s hundreds of millions of clothes each year! Just imagine how much money could be raised for the charity even if you only dropped off one thing before buying something new. I really like the idea of a ‘one in, one out’ policy for my wardrobe in order to keep it tidy from now on.

Please do let me know if you do get involved in this campaign and ‘Shwop’ something of your own by leaving me a comment below. And if you’d like to join in the campaign on Twitter, please use the hashtag #WardrobeShwop in your tweets – why not share a photo of your newly decluttered wardrobe too?! Thanks for supporting this great campaign and if you get a chance please check out my author profile on the Oxfam fashion website where I share lots of thrifty DIY projects as a voluntary blog writer!


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Tuesday Shoesday – Fashion Targets Breast Cancer

Today’s Tuesday Shoesday is all about this one pair of pumps from Superga. What’s so special about these pink trainers? They are part of the new collection by British model and actress Suki Waterhouse and they have been designed especially for the Fashion Targets Breast Cancer campaign for 2014. What do you think of the shoes? Pretty perfect for Spring/Summer 2014 I say!

fashion targets breast cancer campaign 2014 supergra pink pumps

Founded by Ralph Lauren in 1994, Fashion Targets Breast Cancer unites the world of fashion as a single force combating the disease and each of the specially designed clothing items from across a selection of brands and prices will contribute to the cause. Buying an item from the charity’s online shop will ensure that 30% of your purchase price goes directly to support the work of Breakthrough Breast Cancer – what more of an excuse do you need to go shopping for new summer essentials?! There are t-shirts, swimwear and dresses galore in the Fashion Targets catalogue so check it out now and let me know if you get any charitable treats for yourself – tweet me @Cassiefairy 🙂


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The happiest Mother’s Day card from Oxfam

Do you want to do something special for your mother this weekend? If you’re fed up with the usual shop displays of mugs, chocolates, picture frames and flowers, maybe you could try something doing different? And best of all, it helps out a charity! So what have I done for my mum this Mother’s Day? I’ve dedicated a square on the world’s biggest Mother’s Day card, thanks to Oxfam.

The card was made up of lots of little squares to be filled with dedications to mums. Once a message was added, the amazing Oxfam artist Lizzie Cullen brought that square to life with beautiful art. Oxfam say “The Happiest Mother’s Day Card was created at a live art event held in London Westfield Shopping Centre, where every time someone celebrated an amazing mum, the painting on our giant card grew and blossomed.”

oxfam mothers day card

Dedicating a square to your mother is free, but its nice to include a small donation to Oxfam’s Mother Appeal, helping improve the lives of mums in some of the world’s poorest communities. Plus every message helps Oxfam get one step closer to breaking the Guinness World Record for the most ever messages in a card! There are already over 4000 messages written on the card so it is certainly heading in the right direction! There are 4 days left of this live event so get your message to your mum onto the website quickly! Here’s the link to the Oxfam card website where you can see the card and read all the dedications, then add your own: http://happiestmothersdaycard.org/

Plus if you’d like to give to Oxfam’s Mother Appeal anyway, you can make a £3 SMS donation by texting MOTHER to 70013. Or if you’d rather, you can donate an amount of your choice via their online donation form.

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