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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Hygge and Lagom – Living the Scandinavian way this winter

Hoo-gah. Honestly, that’s how you pronounce it. Lagom is slightly a tougher one… lar-gohm. If you’re already over hygge, then maybe lagom is for you. With the new year in full swing, the Scandinavian concept of ‘everything in moderation’ may be better suited to you (especially if you’re making changes to your lifestyle and diet) than the full-on snuggle-up-and-get-cosy-during-deepest-darkest-winter concept of hygge. Lagom means ‘just the right amount’ and is a slightly more matter-of-fact approach to living a more balanced and thriftier lifestyle. As a very thrifty gal, it’s no wonder I’ve become intrigued by this concept, is it?The eagle-eyed of you may have spotted that I received a book relating to this topic for Christmas. Yes, I finally own a copy of the famous Hygge book by Meik Wiking. You know, the one that instagrammers seem to be posting photos of daily during the autumn and winter. The Danish art of hygge doesn’t necessarily have a certain look or design philosophy, it’s more about the feeling and atmosphere that a room gives you. It’s about appreciating the small things in life and about the times you have felt at your happiest. Recreating that vibe throughout your home is hygge, pure and simple. Lagom is very different and there are four ways to embrace lagom this year; eating with the seasons, reducing your environmental impact, stressing less, and enjoying things in moderation. So you can see that this Swedish concept is more about lifestyle as a whole, rather than focusing on creating a feeling of cosiness in the home like hygge. It’s about having just the right amount of food, achieving the ideal work/life balance and doing your bit for the environment. Sounds like a set of new year’s resolutions, doesn’t it? I already feel like it’s more serious concept than the warm-and-fluffy idea of hygge, but maybe that’s just my natural reaction resolutions in general. What a rebel.In contrast, home interior specialists Baytree Interiors have come up with the four elements needed to create the perfect winter sanctuary with the Danish concept of hygge. These are: textures, small spaces, natural colours and low lighting. Firstly, rustic materials such as wood and leather work well to create hygge-esque textures especially when combined with cable knits, faux fur and fluffy rugs. Secondly, larger rooms will benefit from being divided up, to make a series of cosy spaces. Thirdly and neutral colour scheme using brown, gray and cream will give a sense of bringing nature indoors. And finally, lighting is the most important element in any Hygge home and it’s the easiest way to create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Lamps and candles create soothing pools of light around the home, and the Danes are said to light more candles than any other country in Europe!I can see how the two ideas can work hand-in-hand. For example, if you’re practicing the lagom idea of stressing less, you’ll be wanting to create a lovely hygge environment in which to relax in. Food and drink can be hygge too (I’d call it comfort food…) and the lagom idea of having everything in moderation means that you really can enjoy that hot chocolate with squishy marshmallows without feeling guilty, because you’re just having one mugful. And of course, switching off the electricity to sit by hygge candlelight, couldn’t be more lagom in terms of reducing your environmental impact, could it?These two Scandinavian concepts aren’t in competition with each other, but they have both become really popular this winter and it seems like a good idea to learn a thing or two about lifestyle from the happiest nations in the world, doesn’t it? I can’t wait to introduce some of these concepts into my own home and life in 2017 and try to embrace a happier, cosier and more relaxed approach to life. So if you find me tucked up under a blanket that I’ve knitted myself rather than doing any work, that’ll be the reason why! Let me know if you’re inspired by these Scandinavian ideals or if you’ve been adding a touch of hygge to your home this winter by leaving me a comment below 🙂

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Book Review – Inspiration for colourful outdoor spaces with “Happy Home Outside” by Charlotte Hedeman Guéniau

It may be wet and snowing outside this morning but no amount of bad weather can dampen my mood. And that’s because I’ve been enjoying reading a particularly sunny book this weekend – Happy Home Outside by Charlotte Hedeman Guéniau.happy home outside book review garden inspiration summer spring 16It’s an inspirational ‘exterior design’ book packed full of ideas for making your garden into a truly magical space. With sun-lit photos, bursts of fruity colour and want-to-sit-there locations throughout, it’s certainly been keeping me in an optimistic mood. In fact, it’s made me look forward to summer (as a winter baby I always prefer cooler months) and I can actually imagine myself sitting outside this year and spending some time in the sun (wearing SPF50, of course) thanks to the photos in this publication. happy home outside book review garden inspiration summer partyhappy home outside book review garden plants inspiration summer-2With a foreword from Will Taylor of Bright.Bazaar – one of my favourite design blogs and source of many colourful Pins – this book kicks off with a rousing call to enjoy ‘The Outdoor Life’ this year; to seize the moment, to surround yourself with colour and nature, and to spend quality time with friends and family. I literally couldn’t agree more.HHO pg102 pic (c) Skovdal & Skovdal HHO pg 32 pic (c) Skovdal & Skovdal

From Happy Home Outside: Everyday Magic for Outdoor Life by Charlotte Hedeman Guéniau. Picture credits: Skovdal &Skovdal. Published by Jacqui Small (£25).

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The language of love

Over the weekend I watched a video on YouTube that actually made me smile from ear-to-ear with happiness and I wanted to share it with you now. It’s a video called The Language of Love and it shows women being given a message in French (by a really rather dishy fella with designer stubble!) before receiving the translation from their daughters, partners and friends. Language of love_ Language of love_-3 Language of love_-7

It shows that expressing messages of love can often be lost in translation but it made me think that I’d really like to share my love and gratitude for my family, husband and friends and I can think of no better way of doing this than by showing you the artwork, quotes and images that I surround myself with every day.

Language of love_-4Language of love_-5Language of love_-10

These special items are all hanging around my home and they express how I feel about all the important people in my life and I’m so pleased that I have such wonderful family and friends who look after me and care for me. These are gifts that friends have given me along, with meaningful images that I’ve framed and photos that we have taken together.

Thanks everyone for being part of my life, you’re fab! Je t’aime!

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Back to normal & back to work

Today, I’m back to normal. After all the festivities of Christmas and new year, an after a month of having a poorly hubby at home recovering from an operation, we are finally heading back to work and back into our normal routine. I know many people went back to work last week, but today pretty much everyone is at work and the children are heading back to school so I know that most of you will be feeling the same way that I do today, which is slightly anxious, overtired and a little bit flat. They don’t call it Blue Monday for nothing!

The second week of January usually has a lively back-to-school atmosphere, with more cars on the road, child-focussed Christmas TV schedules abandoned and Chris Evans back on the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show (I don’t even bother listening when the replacement radio presenters are broadcasting over holidays!), so that means that the whole country is waking up earlier and getting into the swing of 2014. I am excited about what the year has in store for us and I’m keen to get back to my full-time blogging work, but after such a prolonged period of rest, I’m wondering how I will get on – will I even remember how my regular schedule went? I’m sure I had a routine that I used to follow each day to keep me on track but all I can think about today is lunch at 12:30!

And that brings me onto another thing that I’ve got mixed feelings about – getting back into a normal eating routine. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has abandoned their usual healthy eating plan in favour of eating After 8’s after 8 AM and replacing lunch with a pot of Pringles? Every year I think that I’ll only over-indulge during the one week of Christmas, but this year I actually started my festive eating schedule before my birthday at the start of December and I’ve been steadily munching my way through snacks, chocolates and big roast dinners – with the intention of finishing it all up before today. Because today I will stop the scoff and get back to normal – if only I could remember what I used to eat! Has it really been that long since I cooked a proper dinner? I’m going to have a look through the old Slimming World recipe book and write out a list!

happiness gratitude jar new year craft project for 2014

Gratitude jar by Rhian Thomas via Pinterest

But on a more cheerful note, the new year is not just about depriving myself of Lindt and knuckling down to work, it’s about aiming to create a creative, happier and more productive version of me! So I can happily report that I’ve been writing interesting and humorous entries in my new mustard-yellow diary (instead of the usual ‘ate this, went there’ records) and I’ve been collecting together notelets, Post-its and writing paper in order to start my happiness jar – a similar idea to this gratitude jar above that I found on Pinterest. I think this is a great idea for keeping track of positive moments and keep my mind’s-eye looking out for special moments. It can only be a good thing to take time out to appreciate and record natures miracles or joyous events, and I’m already looking forward to opening it up at the end of the year – or whenever I need cheering up at any time! Sounds good, huh?

So I hope you have an easy transition back into your daily routine, whatever you’re doing and you can always chat with me if you need a bit of cheering up or some grumpy commiserating! I’m @Cassiefairy on Twitter or leave me a comment below 🙂


Book Review – Robert Holden’s Success Intelligence

I thought I’d share a quick review of the book that’s on my bedside table right now. I’m reading Success Intelligence by Robert Holden PhD, the bestselling author of Be Happy. I’d heard many good things about the author and have fancied reading his books for a while, so when this one popped up in my local library I borrowed it immediately. I was pretty enthusiastic about reading it and started with such gusto that I think I wore myself out!

Here’s the Blurb:

Success Intelligence examine show to enjoy real, soulful success while living in a manic, busy and hyped-up world. This landmark book is an invaluable guide to achieving genuine success and happiness.

success intelligence robert holden book review

I’ve had it on loan from the library since before Christmas but I’ve still not finished it. I hope this isn’t a reflection on my reading ability, and I usually get through books pretty quickly, so I think this is a motivation thing – the reading is pretty heavy-going and although I enjoy Holden’s anecdotes, I find my mind wandering and it’s hard to get back into the main message of the book. I am reluctant to speak badly about such a well-written, helpful book, but I always without fail fall asleep before I’ve finished a chapter. And that’s not just because I’m reading at bedtime – even in the mornings when I think I’ll really put my mind to it and crack on with reading it – I start reading, the content gives plenty of food for thought and I’ll stop to think about what I’ve just read… and drift off to sleep. As a self-help book for insomniacs, this would be pretty good! 😉 But seriously, the book does share excellent ideas and really does make you think and apply Holden’s ideas to your own life – the Success Intelligence method been featured on Oprah, so it must be good, right?.

There are tasks throughout the book – each chapter has a “Success Intelligence Tip” at the end which asks you to reflect on your own abilities and behaviours eg ‘Talents’ – write down answers to “What am I really talented at in my work?”, “What makes me very good at relationships?” and “What have a I mastered about living life well?”. I therefore think that it would be best to read this book “actively” and not for relaxation as I usually do. It would be very helpful to do the tasks in order self-analyse, but I’ve not done any of them (they’re at the end of the chapter and I’m asleep by then) so maybe I’m not getting the most out of the book. But I don’t want to go back to the beginning again… I’ll never finish it! A lot of the themes of the book are around slowing down, taking time to appreciate life and dedicating time to yourself in order to feel more fulfilled and satisfied – but I find myself saying ‘I have a busy life and can’t even find the time to read the book’  and that’s pretty rubbish by Holden’s standards: it turns out that I’m doing exactly the opposite to his recommendations. Must do better.   

Seeing as I’ve not read the whole book yet, I’ll reserve my judgement until the end. The language of the book hasn’t put me off; it’s certainly not written in cheesy self-help lingo nor is it too smarty-pants to understand, I think Holden has got it just right – easy to understand, but with enough complex ideas that it really makes you think (shame I find thinking so tiring, really). I think I’d like to try reading Holden’s Be Happy first to get a bit of background on the author and I think some of the parts of Success Intelligence assume a prior knowledge of Be Happy. As a writer, I’m enjoying his style (very calming and sensible tone) and the content really is great – I’m not into self-help mumbo-jumbo but this book totally makes sense intellectually and I can’t help but believe what Robert Holden says; he’s such a smiley happy chappy in his photo on the back cover.

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