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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Tuesday Shoesday – No shoes, but a new satchel

I’ve decided to write about my new handbag for this week’s Tuesday Shoesday blog post. Okay, I know it’s not strictly a shoesday post without any shoes, but the handbag did come from shoe brand Hotter, so I think it’s the ideal time to talk about handbags.handbag-wine-burgundy-satchel-bag-retro-school-crossbody-1-of-3Now, I’m not someone who will buy a new handbag just because I like the look of it, or because it matches an outfit or follows a new trend. In fact, I don’t buy bags very often at all. I don’t have a different bag for every occasion or for different seasons. Nope, I tend to choose one bag and that one bag will do me very nicely until it falls apart. And that’s when I’ll buy another one.handbag-wine-burgundy-satchel-bag-retro-school-crossbody-2-of-3You may have guessed from this that I don’t see handbags as a fashion accessory. I see them as purely practical; something to carry my important stuff from one place to another. I’m not saying that it doesn’t matter at all what the handbag looks like, because I have my preferences in the looks department too. But most important is that it can fit everything in, with lots of pockets and is easy to carry. handbag-wine-burgundy-satchel-bag-retro-school-crossbody-3-of-3My last two handbags have been Disaster Designs satchels. The first one I tried was the best. I really liked how it looked, with a map-print design and brown faux-leather flap. It was big enough to fit in everything I needed to carry, even notepads and ipads could fit in there. In fact, it was a little too big at times – if I only needed to carry a purse, it seemed to get lost in the vast space inside the bag, swishing around like a teabag in a bucket. But it lasted for years. I’m taking maybe 2-3 years before it finally started coming apart. I’d already ruined the lining with a leaky pen and plenty of spilled makeup by this point, but I was still sad to see it go.Whats in blogger Cassiefairys handbag-1

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My outfit for the UK blog awards

Okay, it’s my last ‘preparing for the UK Blog Awards’ post of the week and I’m sharing a snap of the outfit I’ve finally decided on for the big event. I’ve also shared photos of my shoes on Tuesday Shoesday and my make-up choices yesterday so now it’s time to show off the pretty dress I picked up from Boden.outfit for awards ceremony boden dress clutch bag hotter shoes-3Just how lovely is this swingy dress in classy monochromatic hues? I chose it for two reasons: Firstly, it fits me really well and the skirt is exactly the right knee-length for my height. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, it’s the kind of dress you want to twirl around in! The swishy skirt flares out beautifully thanks to the woven fabric and the tripes really accentuate the shape of the dress. It’s really comfortable to wear too, the knitted material is soft and drapes perfectly. I was also chuffed to bits that my dress is half the usual price because the Beatrice Knitted dress has been reduced now – so if you can’t find what you’re looking for in the main collection, a thrifty tip is to browse the clearance section too! I’m so happy with it and can’t wait to wear the on the big night.outfit for awards ceremony boden dress clutch bag hotter shoesI already showed you some snaps of my Hotter shoes earlier this week so you won’t be surprised by my decision to pair this monochrome dress with bright pink shoes. What may surprise you is my choice of red clutch bag, also from Boden. Okay, I know that matching your shoes and handbag is the kind of thing my nan would do, but I still feel a bit odd wearing pink shoes with a red bag. But I needn’t have worried because, when the bag was delivered, I discovered that it has a pink lining inside the flap of the clutch. The tomato red and cerise pink look gorgeous together – and really rather opulent. This slightly-oversize clutch is plenty big enough for everything I need to take with me to the UK Blog Awards (the blogger’s essentials: phone, camera, tickets and business cards!) and the pockets inside will keep everything organised. I’m ready for the event now – bring it on!outfit for awards ceremony boden dress clutch bag hotter shoes-4


DIY gift project – Be your own clothing designer

I’m excited to share a fun project I’ve been playing around with this week. Yes, I’ve been designing my own clothing. I’ve been spending time picking out my favourite photos and choosing my ultimate ‘girl boss’ quotes in order to make a few designs of my own. And that’s because I’ve just discovered a new design website Spreadshirt. It’s a pretty cool site that not only allows you to shop a whole range of designs created by a fabulous community of artists, photographers and creatives, but that also lets you get involved with creating your own designs too. Who can honestly say they designed their own t-shirt? Well, I can, and I’m pretty chuffed with the results.spreadshirt design your own t shirt mug hat gift.jpgI actually stumbled onto the Spreadshirt website because I wanted to create a personalised gift for my husband’s birthday. As an artist and photographer, he doesn’t really like mass-produced styles and would prefer to choose to wear something hand-made or designed by a fellow creative. Which is precisely why I turned to Spreadshirt when I needed to treat him to some clothing for his birthday. Let me explain; once you’ve picked out a basic t-shirt, sweatshirt, bag, hat (or even mug) you can get to work adding your own designs OR browsing the hundreds of designs that other creative folk have added to the design hub.spreadshirt design your own t shirt diy step by step spreadshirt design your own t shirt diy step by step beards

If you upload your designs on Spreadshirt, you can sell them for other people to use on their t-shirts

Yes, there are hundreds of designs, quotes and images that you can add to a simple t-shirt to make it a truly personalised gift. Continue reading “DIY gift project – Be your own clothing designer” »

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My handbag quest

The other day I was sorting through my wardrobe with the aim of getting rid of some of the things I no longer use. I did that and found quite a lot of things I no longer needed, but surprisingly I also realised that I was short on something and that was handbags. Cassiefairy blog Nica Estelle vintage school bag satchelI’ve used the same couple of handbags in rotation for the past few years and since putting away my ‘winter’ bag last year, it’s become rather tatty – or, more likely, I’ve just started to notice the cracked leather and ink-marks. Yes, some of my favourite bags really need replacing! A shopping trip, with the aim of buying a handbag for every occasion, was in order. Whats in blogger Cassiefairys handbag-2

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My outfit for the Cosmo Blog Awards

I mentioned last week just how relaxed I’d been about what to wear for the Cosmo Blog Awards and that I’d kind of left everything to the last minute. Well, no sooner than I’d published that same blog post on Tuesday Shoesday I started to feel a little bit fluttery about the whole thing. What was I thinking? I’m never this disorganised and I always like to know well in advance what I’d like to wear to the special events I go to. So why oh why had I turned this into a last minute scramble for an outfit?! Maybe I didn’t actually believe that I was going to the Cosmo Blog Awards – let me just say it again – I’ve been invited to the Cosmopolitan Magazine Blog Awards as a finalist. Nope, that certainly doesn’t sound like it’s referring to me. Perhaps that’s the reason why I’ve been putting it to the back of my mind. Like I didn’t really think it was happening…

Well, the blog awards are tomorrow. And I am going to be there, no matter what. So I’d better pick out an outfit to wear. So far I’ve got the shoes sorted (as you might have seen in my blog post last week) and now my accessories can be ticked off the list too. I’ve decided to go for classic black but I don’t want to blend into the background too much , so I’ve plumped for accessories with a hint of gold with this sparkly flower necklace and cuff from Apricot. I spotted them online and in all honestly I wasn’t sure that the accessories would work well together but thankfully I was very wrong! And let me just say that the cuff is even more gorgeous in real life than in its online photos (usually it’s the other way round with photos of me haha) and now I want to buy more of them in different colours.

Outfit choices for the Cosmo Blog Awards-3

I have got my favourite 15 denier Charnos tights from UKTights which come in a pack of two so I will have a spare pair if I get a ladder during the course of the evening. My studded handbag was from the Apricot sale too, which has a long strap that can be detached to make it into an oversized clutch bag, so it’ll be good for all eventualities. I plan to carry it as a clutch with my phone and make-up tucked away in the inside pockets, and there’s plenty of room for the bloggers’ essentials: a camera and business cards! I like to have the option to wear my bag across my body if I’m dancing so I’m pleased to have the longer strap available if the occasion to bust some moves crops up!

So, on to the actual outfit options: I have a list of my top three dresses for the event and I have a definite choice of jacket so I’ll start with that. This Therapy blazer from House of Fraser is my new jacket for autumn/winter 2014. I think it’ll be great to wear throughout the season because it’s not too smart – the rope/cable knit design embossed into the jersey fabric gives it a cardigan feel – but it’s also not too casual to wear for an evening out because of the smart shape and tuxedo-like lapels. So  it’s best of both really –  somewhere in the middle between casual and smart – exactly where I like to be! The blog awards will be it’s first outing but I know I will get a lot of wear out of it over the season.

In terms of dresses, I’ve gone from none to 4 in the space of a couple of days. Firstly, I found this Therapy dress from House of Fraser in a butterfly pattern. I love  the fabric and the pretty design even though the shape is completely different to anything I’d usually wear! It makes me feel really sophisticated and I like the longer length on me. I prefer to wear dresses with sleeves so this is ideal but I stopped wearing wrap-front clothing a few years ago when I kept needing to sew them up to make sure that nothing fell out, so I am yet to decide whether this is the one yet.

I also fell in love with this red chiffon dress from Apricot as soon as I tried it on and it’s definitely more the kind of dress shape that I go for – I love a good tea-dress! The sleeves are a great shape and I like the fact that it has a coordinating belt with it – I find that wearing a contrasting black belt cuts me in half and makes me look even shorter and stumpier than I am! The length is good – almost knee length – and the fabric moves nicely, which would be perfect for dancing in. In fact, it’s ideal for all the 1940s dances I’ve been going to recently to practice my swing dancing, so I will be getting a lot of wear out of this dress over the coming season, no matter what! I love red for festive events but now that I’ve chosen so many black accessories I’m a little worried that I might look a bit halloweeny in it, but we’ll see when I try the whole look together!dorothy perkins dresses

Finally, I have a choice of two Dorothy Perkins dresses, this blue crepe dress – which I think would look great with black accessories – and this floral fit ‘n’ flare dress. I love how these dresses fit me and can always rely on Dorothy Perkins’ sizing so I was able to order these online and know that they would be the perfect fit. The trouble is that this makes my decision even more difficult! I think that the shape of the floral dress is particularly flattering and I even quite like the shorter length – it makes me feel all teenage again!

I’m sure that I will have made a decision by the end of the day, which usually involves trying on the entire outfit and taking photos like Cher in Clueless. You’ll be able to see what outfit I choose tomorrow – I’m sure that I’ll be tweeting photos while I’m at the Cosmo Blog Awards! And wish me luck, eek!


What’s in YOUR handbag – Llinos from Whispers of Wellness blog

Last week I shared the contents of my handbag with you all. It was quite a personal blog post because I think handbags are a rather secretive place where any number of odds and ends can be stashed. In fact, they are sometimes a very messy place that you wouldn’t want anyone else rummaging through – I’m pretty sure that I edited out a lot of receipts, empty sweet wrappers and 2ps from the bottom of my bag before I photographed it! Anyway, a lot of you were kind enough to get in touch to let me know that you enjoyed having a nosy inside my handbag and one lovely reader got in touch with her own handbag story.
Llinos from fab blog Whispers of Wellness sent me a photo of the contents of her handbag and told me all about what she carries and why, and here it is:
whats in my handbag
“I love my purse, I got it with a gift card in Debenhams.  The hedgehog is so cute! I’ve got a little angel charm on it too.  Then a pen, brush, tissues and paracetamol as essentials or emergency items.  My keyring is a lemur toy which was a gift, he is easy to find when I rummage in my bag for my car key! My perfume is Body Shop Indian Night Jasmine, and my lipstick is Bare Minerals ‘Feel the Love’.  A spritz and a dash of them are essential for a midday freshen up.”
As you saw from my handbag snaps last week, I too carry lots of ’emergency’ items including safety pins and mini screwdriver! It’s very interesting to see Llinos’ keyring too- I didn’t think to include my keys in my handbag blog post, but actually keys can be just as personal as the contents of the handbag itself. My caravan key has a cheeky ‘nice bottom’ keyring so I rarely take that one out of the house with me in case anyone spots it! My normal keys have a photo-keyring of my friends and I on a night out during our uni days and a small piece of wood painted in duck-egg blue that my brother made into a keyring for me so that I would always be able to ‘touch wood’ when the occasion arose!
Please check out Llinos’ blog at it’s a very interesting read by such a lovely author! And if you too would like to share the contents of your handbag please send your photos to – it would be great to hear from you 🙂

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What’s in my bag…

I’m willing to bet that you too are carrying around at least one or two of the same things that I am in my handbag. I find it really interesting to see what other people have in their bags; it’s quite a private space and can reveal a lot about your personality. Actually, I never usually let others go rummaging through my bag unsupervised – who knows what they might find?! Even so, a handbag is an intriguing place and I’d love to share the contents of mine with you. I even find the choice of bag interesting, as it sometimes dictates what you can and can’t carry with you and obviously reflects your style.

Whats in blogger Cassiefairys handbag-1

What’s in my bag:

  • My bag is Paperbird by Disaster Designs – I told my husband that I would ‘never need another bag ever again’ if he bought it for me for Christmas. So I’ve not been allowed to so much as look at another bag since December 2011. It’s getting a bit battered and faded now and a pen leaked all over the lining, but it IS the most useful bag I’ve ever had and I use it daily.
  • My purse is an Accessorize one that my friend Claire bought for my birthday that same year, so now I don’t need to shop for purses anymore either! It’s great quality and can hold everything I need including business cards and a photo of hubby.
  • My camera is usually in my bag to record ideas and things I see, and I store it in a grey knitted case.
  • At the top left is a fold-out shopping bag from Joules – that’s the sort of thing my mum would carry, but I love it – as Tim Minchin sings; ‘take your canvas bags to the supermarket’.
  • Whats in blogger Cassiefairys handbag-2
  • Nivea lipbalm (there’s usually 3 of these hanging around in there) the best I’ve ever used and this one has an SPF too
  • My glasses and my lenses pot – just in case I have a contact lens disaster while I’m out and about
  • Speaking of disasters, I’m always prepared – I have a couple of safety pins, paracetamol, Carex anti-bacterial gel, Aveda hand cream (the best in the world) and a tape measure (hubby always needs one) tucked in the back pocket of my bag. Plus, on my keys is a screwdriver keyring: I like to be able to help when someone needs something.
  • Notebook (from Julia Rothman), pen and pencil –because I never stop working and I forget ideas really easily.
  • Stila Lipglaze in Rosebud that my US friend Leslie sent me and bargain Collection 2000 XXL Volume Sensation mascara for quick touch-ups
  • Sunglasses that my sister-in-law gave me – I carry these all year round because I hate squinting; I can’t afford the wrinkles!

Whats in blogger Cassiefairys handbag-3

That’s actually quite a lot to carry, and sometimes I’m also carting around my hubby’s wallet, iPad and a drink – that’s the trouble with having a large satchel handbag: everything can fit in and everyone asks me to carry their bits n bobs! I think that the contents of my bag show that I am well organised and ready for all eventualities, possibly a little pessimistic with all the ’emergency’ items I keep with me, and quite ‘mumsy’, wanting to take care of everyone I’m with. If you don’t mine me being nosy (and sharing photos on my blog!) please do send me snaps of what’s in your handbag and this might well turn into a feature on the blog! Email me


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Back to school fashion ~ the satchel

The school holidays are due to start next week and that means an abundance of ‘back to school’ goodies in the shops. Is it just me that gets excited about the idea of new pencil cases (I got mine last week!) and plimsolls? I really rather enjoy the fact that multi-packs of polo shirts are now hanging where BBQs and sun-loungers were being sold in the shops only last week. The holidays haven’t even started and already we’re preparing for them to end! In fact, that’s how it always felt as a child – here it comes… and there it goes! – the summer holidays went by in a flash. 6 weeks stretched out ahead of me, but in no time at all I would be browsing ‘back-to-school’ catalogues for new school shoes. Anyway, the impending summer holidays had got me thinking about school-uniform-esque fashion (I really like those pleated skirts!) and a trend that I feel I’ve missed out on so far: satchels.

This trend has popped up over the past 18 months. It began as a rather high-end high-street fashion item with the Cambridge Satchel Company and all the stars were carrying them. I loved the neon range and drooled over Fearne Cotton’s luminous yellow hold-all.

high street satchels fashion trend

Alexa, Fearne and Elle Fanning rocking the satchel trend in The Telegraph

Ever since, there have been more and more satchels of all different colours and sizes hitting the high-street stores and everywhere I look there’s a cheapy look-a-like on sale for pocket-money prices. I’m not saying that I won’t by cheap bags – I am the queen of thrift after all! – but there were just so many of them and everyone was carrying one, that I was rather put off buying one. Was it too on trend for me? Was I “so over” satchels before I’d even bought one? Perhaps you feel the same? Please let me know that I’m not the only one!

Well, now that the new school year is approaching and my thoughts have turned back to all things school, I’ve taken a look at satchels with a fresh eye and I’ve been surprised by what I’ve seen. In fact, it was this collection of satchels in interesting colours and prints that caught my attention on the Nigel O’Hara website and I found myself yearning for a satchel once again.

on trend yoshi satchel handbags from nigel o hara

My absolute favourite is this house print satchel because it looks like a picture you might have doodled onto your school bag yourself during a dull maths lesson, plus the layers of streets reminds me of living on a hill in Brighton seeing all the rows of terraces in the distance. I also can’t help loving the New York skyline bag by Yoshi which looks like a traditional satchel, but the printed photo on the pocket brings it right up to date. What do you think of these new designs? Does it make you want to go back to school yourself?? Let me know what you think and tweet me @Cassiefairy photos of your own back-to-school goodies 🙂


Back to school… and I need a satchel!

Okay, okay. I know it was only last week that I declared myself ‘out’ of education for this school year. I was certain that this year was going to be the first academic year that I wasn’t going to be starting a new course or studying for another qualification. Yes, this year there would be no ceremonies to attend and no certificates arriving in the post. However…

Since writing about this during my Tuesday Shoesday blog post, I’ve had a bit of an ‘accidental’ browse online for short-courses, and have flicked through my local leisure-learning brochure. It’s an unusual change of heart, because I was actually looking forward to not writing assignments this year. But I just can’t help myself – perhaps I’m a little bit addicted to education, to gaining knowledge, and to getting new school supplies? Whatever it is, it means that I’ve impulsively signed myself up for a degree module on “Brands” at the UEA, which starts on the 14th October.

Cassiefairy blog Leisure learning classes 2013-14

So surely that means that I will need to nip to the stationery shop and pick up some new pens and folders? I already have the school shoes that caused all this in the first place. And I definitely need a new satchel. Right now. This is a school-bag emergency, people!

I’ve had a browse around my favourite bag retailers online and have discovered how difficult it is to buy a simple bag. The problem I’ve found is that many online stores don’t list the dimensions of their handbags or important details like whether it has a phone pocket or zipped section inside. Any bag that I choose needs to fit in my tablet, a notebook and all other school-related paraphernalia, so it must be the right size! I know this wouldn’t be a problem if I just went to a shop to buy my school bag – but I work in my office all day (as soon as I finish work, the shops close, it’s as if they know I’m coming…), and the internet is right there for me to make my purchase at any time of day. Plus I can have my item placed in my hands within a couple of days without stepping foot on the high street. Very convenient. But a little difficult if the item you’re shopping for needs to fit a specific item into it.

Luckily I found a shop online that sells one of my favourite bag brands Nica and includes information on bag dimensions and pocket-content. After an enjoyable browse on the Bagable website during a tea-break, I found my ideal satchel for going back to school. I had my iPad and a tape-measure to hand to check the measurements, so after a couple of the bags turned out to be too small to accommodate my tablet, I found a satchel that was exactly the right size: this Nica Estelle shoulder bag.

Cassiefairy blog Nica Estelle vintage school bag satchel

I love the minty aqua colour (one of my new favourite colours that I’ve been wearing all summer, and will look great all year round) and this bag has a gorgeous floral lining with plenty of pockets for my mobile phone and pencil case! It’s a vintage-esque design with punched-out flower pattern and cute leather tassels, which is what stood out to me when I was browsing the website – I’d never seen anything like it before. I don’t know what it is about satchels, but it wouldn’t be right to go to school without one. Maybe it’s because I read The Story of Fuzzypeg as a child – do you remember that story by Alison Uttley where a little hedgehog has his first day at school? I loved it and the illustrations of a cute hedgehog carrying a satchel by Margaret Tempest were captivating. I think that’s why I need a school satchel so much!

Cassiefairy blog Nica Estelle handbag satchel from Bagable

Well, now that I have my satchel over my shoulder, I’m all organised and ready for going back to school next week. I know a lot of my course will involve distance learning online, but at least I feel like a student again and am getting into a new mindset of preparing for deadlines and assignments. I will keep you updated with my progress this semester and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t eat into my blogging time too much! So if you see the blog going quiet for a few days, at least you’ll know what I’m up to!

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