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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The ergonomics of working from home

If you’re a full-time freelancer like me, or someone who works just one day a week out of their home office, this is the blog post for you. That’s because I’m sharing some research I’ve done about the ergonomics of setting up a home workspace and I’m sure that it’ll help you enjoy working from home even more than you already do!

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If you’ve been making do with sitting at the kitchen table to do your work, or balancing your laptop on the arm of the sofa, or (like us bloggers occasionally admit) never even leave your bed, you won’t need me to tell you that it’s not the best way to work. You’ll ready know it yourself thanks to the numb bum, crick-in-the-neck and sore back you get at the end of the working day.

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Why don’t you have problems like this when you’re working at the office? Because most businesses have ergonomically designed desks and chairs, perfectly set up desks and monitors at just the right height. They need to provide a healthy working environment for their workers, and don’t want to have staff absences because a dodgy office chair caused spine problems for their employees.

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So the solution to having a more comfortable working environment at home is to replicate ‘the office’. I know it might seem dull (and you’ve only just got away from that bloomin’ office!) but you’re going to have to set up a proper desk, get a great office chair and stop working on that laptop. This guide below explains the best way to arrange your desk to make it ergonomically correct. And, most importantly, you’re going to have actually USE your newly arranged desk to do your work. No matter how tempting the sofa looks!

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Pieday Friday – 3 healthy juice recipes

It’s all about the juicing this year. Or at least it is in my household because we’ve got a new juicer! As someone who has never tried combinations of juice before (seriously, orange juice is as adventurous as it got!) I’ve been really intrigued to start reading up on juicing and looking into recipes. There are SO many options out there; savoury juices, fruity juices, herby juices and even spicy juices. I wanted to make a healthy swap for my sometimes not-too-healthy shakes and smoothies, so I gave juicing a go for the very first time.I’ve read plenty of recipes where one or two of the ingredients were things that I’m not too keen on (like mango or parsley) so I decided to come up with my own combinations to test out my new juicer and to see whether or not I was going to enjoy fresh juice at all! Today’s Pieday Friday recipe post is the result of my experiments earlier this week and, if you’re a keen juicer yourself, I’m pretty sure that you’re going to like them.  The juicer I’m using is the Phillips Avance Collection Centrifugal Juicer, which is a pretty darn effective piece of equipment. When I started using it for the first time, I was rather surprised by how fast and easily it juiced the fruit and veg that I was putting through it. Sure, I guessed that soft grapes and pears would be easy to juice but who knew that so much moisture could come out of a carrot? Seriously, my carrots were pretty dry when they went in, but boy did they make a lot of juice! And, come to think of it, the pulp that came out was really dry too. I guess the machine got every drop out of the bunch.

So, here are the ingredients for each of the three juices I made last week. I went for a crowd-pleasing fresh fruity drink (the purple one), an exotic juice with tropical flavours (the yellow one) and a nutritious spicy savoury juice (the orange one – yes, the one with the carrots in). Of course, the instructions for each recipe is pretty-much “juice the ingredients” so I won’t bore you with that! Just know that it’s a good idea to remove rinds and skins from fruits like the pineapple, papaya, oranges and kiwi fruits.

One of my experiments that ended in disaster was juicing kiwis with their skins on. I read online that it was fine to eat the skins and while it may be possible to eat the skins, it’s not the nicest texture. So if you don’t want to drink a furry juice, I’d recommend taking off the skins before juicing!

Juice 1 – Cooked beetroot, apples, pears, white grapes.

Juice 2 – Pineapple, papaya, kiwi, oranges

Juice 3 – Carrots, celery, tomatoes, chilli

These juices make a pretty looking bunch, don’t they? I really enjoyed the purple beetroot-based juice and could drink that all day long. And the ‘bloody mary’ style veg juice was delicious too, in a savoury kind of way. I had a bit leftover that I heated up at lunchtime to try it as a soup. If you’re a fan of thin soups, this might be one for you. Tropical flavours aren’t really my thing, by my husband liked the exotic juice, so everyone’s happy with our new juicer!  Do you already make your own juice or will you be starting as part of a healthy habit swap this January? I know I’ll be trying to keep it up during the year so let me know your ideas for recipes or fruit ‘n’ veg combinations by leaving me a comment below or by tweeting me @Cassiefairy.


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Sleep better & feel better this winter

The average person will spend approximately 25 years sleeping, and with good reason. Whoever said ‘sleep is for the weak’ certainly hasn’t experienced the joys of being horizontal on a Sunday morning.  I wonder if there’s a stat out there for the amount of time people daydream of their bed whilst at work? I can only imagine that would be immeasurable. And how many times have you had that late night social media craving? You’ve scrolled on Instagram for an extra 5 minutes, which morphs into an hour (and a half) and then feel completely rubbish in the morning when you’re pressing snooze for the too-manyieth time.cat-sleep-comfortable-bed-pixabay-1 Well, they do say you only know what you’ve got when it’s gone, and I think sleep is SO important to make sure I’m happy for the day! It’s time to focus on waking up in the morning feeling refreshed, not wanting to sleep for 5 minutes longer, and certainly not relying on your good friend coffee to pick up all the pieces. The positive effects that a great night’s sleep can have on your well-being are hard to ignore, so here are my top 5 tips for sleeping like a baby…cat-sleep-comfortable-bed-pixabay-2Tea and coffee curfews

You may think curfews are for children, but it never hurts to have a little self discipline, especially when it comes to caffeine. If you’re anything like me, you really love a good brew tucked up in bed— sorry friends, this has to stop. It turns out that while coffee is our primary suspect for caffeine consumption,  that crafty hug in a mug we know as tea can contain over half as much. Try and decide a suitable time to have your last sip, for me, tea is prohibited after 6pm. Well, I’m sure I could have a hot chocolate instead..!bed-coffee-laptop-pixabay

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4 strange causes of insomnia

After a rather sleepless night earlier this week left me totally drained (and over-emotional!) the following day, I decided to do a little research into the science of sleep. According to the Sleep Health Foundation, about one in three people has some level of insomnia. Sleeplessness can be a pain (especially when you know you’ve got to be up and out early the next morning), but insomnia is more than just a mild annoyance. Insufficient sleep can contribute to serious health problems like depression, hypertension, diabetes, and even cancer. If you suffer from persistent insomnia, you should see a doctor for help. If you just have trouble sleeping from time to time, though, you may have fallen victim to one of these four strange causes of insomnia.toothbrush-571741_19201.Brushing with mint flavour toothpaste

Brushing your teeth with strongly mint-flavoured toothpaste in the morning can give you the kick of energy you need to get the day started. Using the same toothpaste at night, however, could make it difficult for you to fall asleep. One study shows that people exposed to peppermint before bedtime stayed awake for 11 minutes longer than those who weren’t exposed to the smell. I watched a documentary on fitness ones, which showed how runner who ate mint while running carried on for much longer than those who didn’t. So I guess the energy-boosting properties of mint must have a negative effect on your sleep pattern too. Instead of using a minty toothpaste at night, choose an option that’s not as intense. Switching to a new toothpaste could help you fall asleep sooner.vitamin-b-871135_19202. Taking vitamins before bed

Taking a multivitamin helps ensure that your body gets the nutrition it needs to stay healthy. However, taking your vitamins before bedtime could make it hard for you to fall asleep. The problem becomes even worse when you take a B12 supplement. B12 is an essential vitamin that lets your body turn glucose into energy. If you take it before bedtime, you could find yourself feeling stimulated when you need to settle down. Instead of taking your supplements before bed, try taking them after breakfast or lunch. You’ll get a kick of energy when you need it instead of when you want to sleep.unusual-causes-of-insomnia-bedroom-breakfast

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Tuesday Shoesday – Comfort shoes for a more active life

Whenever September rolls around I get that ‘new-term’ feeling. Even though I’m no longer a student, when you add up all the years that I have been studying in one way or another (yes, I’m even counting primary school), we’re looking at upwards of 20 years in education. So it’s no wonder that I still see September as the start of a new chapter – and still use an academic diary! I see it as a time to kick off some resolutions. In fact, it’s probably a better time of year to make resolutions than January, as you’ve got the end of the year as a marker for quantifying your goals. Whether it’s learning a new language (yes, I’m trying to learn Spanish this year), getting fitter, changing your working habits or improving your savings, I think that September is a great time to start.health-active-sports-shoes-walking-running-cycling-trainers-5So, why am I talking about new goals on a Tuesday Shoesday? Surely this blog post is about shoes, right? Right! But my new shoes are linked to my new-term resolutions, and here are the reasons why: I took a bit of time off over the summer and it was only when I got back into the swing of full-time work that I realised just how bad my back and neck is. I went for physiotherapy earlier this year to correct a neck problem (caused by a historical whiplash injury over 10 years ago) and I thought everything was getting better. Over the summer, I barely noticed anything wrong with my neck and all those headaches were gone. However, as soon as I got back to my desk it became obvious what the problem was – my working environment. All the aches and pains came rushing back and it was difficult to get through a full day of work. So here’s my solution, and how it links to the shoes:health-active-sports-shoes-walking-running-cycling-trainers-7I’m now a standing worker. I realised that sitting down all day was causing a lot of problems; heavy legs, pins and needles, bad back and strained neck. No matter how ergonomic my desk set-up was, I needed to get up off my bum and work standing up. So I gave it a go by moving my computer onto a higher work surface for a couple of days to see how I got on. It worked miracles. No problems at all. Apart from one small thing; my feet ached. My cheap flat pumps were clearly NOT made for standing all day! It reminded me of working in hospitality jobs when I was running around all day and really needed a foot massage at the end of the day. So one problem solved ended up causing another problem, but there was something I could do about that…health-active-sports-shoes-walking-running-cycling-trainers-12

If you need new sports clothing I think that Fabletics (designed by Kate Hudson) can’t be beaten for style and performance.

I’ve reviewed comfort shoes on my blog in the past and I discovered that, for heels, Hotter cannot be beaten. However, I’ve always struggled to find a decent pair of comfort shoes that are also a little more on the sporty side. Most flat comfort shoes are a little bit too ‘old lady’ for me (no offence) and I’ve shied away from them, preferring basic low-cost pumps when I want to wear flat shoes. I read some reviews about sports shoes and zumba shoes online (read the article at NicerShoes.com) and now I’ve finally found a pair of comfort shoes that I want to show off – they’re sporty, available in great colours and are SO comfortable it’s unreal.health-active-sports-shoes-walking-running-cycling-trainers-10health-active-sports-shoes-walking-running-cycling-trainers-2 health-active-sports-shoes-walking-running-cycling-trainers

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Tips for a healthy summer holiday with the family

How are you enjoying the school summer holidays so far? We’ve already enjoyed a few days of sunshine and got stuck into our favourite outdoor activities, such as swimming, walking and going on bike rides. I think that the school holidays is a great time of year for the whole family to make a change towards living a more healthy lifestyle. It’s easier to feel motivated to get outside and be active while the weather is lovely. It’s also a good opportunity to introduce the kids to the idea of eating more healthily too, with plenty of salads, pasta and couscous on the menu during BBQ season!homemade summer coleslaw panasonic food processor bbq dish-18

Check out my healthy coleslaw recipe on the blog – no mayo in this dish!

With that in mind, I wanted to share something with all you mums and dads out there, to help you with some fun ideas for the school holidays that will also help your family to live a more healthy life. As part of National Childhood Obesity Week, which rans from 4th July 2016, NRS Healthcare launched a digital Healthy Living Family Pack to help families with children who may be experiencing issues with overeating, inactivity or poor nutrition and it contains useful ideas on how families can pull together to become more active in their daily lives.day out wild flower walk spring-2

A wildflower hunt is a free activity that gets the kids moving – read about my recent countryside walk here

What does the Healthy Living Family Pack include?

The digital Family Pack is available to download for free from the NRS website and the pack contains useful information and ideas for parents, coupled with an interactive star chart for children to track their activities in a fun, informal way. Families can learn more about childhood obesity and how to actively approach the subject through the pack contents, which include:

  • Family Activity Cards
  • A Family Day Out Wish List
  • Daily Chores Calorie Counter (for parents)
  • A Chore Chooser Star Chart (for children)blue suede shoes - his n hers brogues_-4

Find ideas for low-cost and fun days out for the school holiday on my blog – here

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Pieday Friday – My top 3 healthy cookbooks for 2016

I can’t be the only one that feels the urge to make a little bit of an improvement to my diet at this time of year, can I? Even though I start out with good intentions in January, I always tend to leave making any changes until a little later on, and now that March is in sight, I think it’s time to get out my healthy-eating books and start cooking. Today I wanted to share a review and some recipes from three of my favourite new cookbooks – and they all happen to have a particularly healthy focus.recipe cook book review healthy eating cakes baking meals_I think it’s the shift towards nicer weather and the longer hours of sunlight that make me feel like eating fresh, good-for-you meals rather than the plates of stodginess I’ve been scoffing all winter. That’s why Hungry Healthy Happy called out to me this week and I decided to flick through the pages of inspiration for healthy main meals, snacks and treats. cook book recipe review hungry healthy happy dannii martin cook book recipe review hungry healthy happy dannii martin chicken tikka masalaWritten by blogger Dannii Martin, a normal girl who simply wanted to change her diet for the better, it’s a really approachable tome of recipes. There’s nothing too difficult to make, no ‘never-heard-of-that’ ingredients, and no specialist equipment need. It’s just a girl like me, in her kitchen, making delicious recipes a little lighter while still keeping all the flavour. So you can probably see why I was attracted to this book, especially as the tag line reads “How to nourish your body without giving up the food you love”. That’s my kind of cooking!HHH_Moussaka-3
The recipe that I’ve chosen to share with you today is Dannii’s moussaka bake. I’ve never made moussaka before reading about it in Hungry Healthy Happy, but now that I am a firm fan of this recipe. It seems so creamy and cheesy, yet it barely has any fat in it – that delicious-looking topping is all yoghurt and eggs with just a sprinkling of feta. I also really love how each recipe has it’s nutritional content broken-down beside it, so that I can see at a glance the protein, fat and fibre content, as well as calories and carbs – making it ideal to use alongside any healthy eating-plan you might be following. The is genuinely one of the most useful healthy recipe books I’ve come across in a long time and I can see myself baking from it all year round. Click here to access a PDF of the Moussaka recipe from Hungry Healthy Happy
grow your own cake recipe cook book review holly farrell grow your own cake recipe cook book review holly farrell bakingThe next cook book I’d love to tell you about is Grow Your Own Cake by Holly Farrell. It’s illustrated with stunning photos by Jason Ingram and every single bake looks delicious. As you’d expect from a recipe book with the tag line ‘recipes from plot to plate’ the book is based around all the things you can bake with just one fruit (or vegetable!) that you’ve grown in the garden. While the cakes might not be the low-fat, low-sugar version you’ll find in the other two cookbooks, growing your own fruit and veg is certainly a more healthy way to eat all year round. You’ll be using ingredients when you’re in season and at their most tasty. Plus, you can be sure that they’ve not been in contact with any nasty chemicals if you’re growing them yourself.

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Pieday Friday – Eat well & healthily this year

Are you taking part in the #WomanKind campaign this month? I’ve been really excited about getting stuck in to this ‘me-time’ project so you might have spotted a few posts over the last couple of weeks about looking great on a budget. If you miss them, here are my posts on starting your new year in style with a wardrobe makeover and hunting out payday footwear bargains. I’ve been sharing thrifty tips and really throwing myself into the spirit of the #WomanKind campaign by supporting my lovely readers to get some great fashion deals and grow in confidence at the same time.pieday friday recipe pastry-free quiche healthy snack hack lunch dinnerI especially love joining in with this campaign because its aim is to encourage women to be kinder to themselves, and that’s something that we all need to work on. The survey I read on the #WomanKind site shows that a whopping 89% of women never compliment themselves and are much more likely to be kind and loving to others than they are to themselves. I really think it’s time to change that and this is precisely why I’m getting stuck into this campaign.healthy moroccan mint ginger lemon herb infusion tea recipe-11

My fresh Moroccan mint tea infusion – click here to find out how I made it

Today’s blog post is something a little different to my usual Pieday Friday recipe posts. In the spirit of the #WomanKind campaign I’m sharing money-saving tips for eating well and healthily this new year. Hopefully, these ideas will inspire you to make a change to the way you approach meal times AND treat yourself with the care that your body deserves.summer salad recipe-6

My favourite ever salad with pea puree – check out the recipe

Tip 1 – it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to eat healthily. You don’t need any specialist meal-replacement products or new kitchen equipment. Yes, swapping sugar for fruit-based sweetener and cooking oil for Fry-Light will help you make your meals and drinks much healthier, but these are probably the only two things you’ll need to make a big change. From here on in you can make your own healthy ‘instant’ meals, mix up your own fruity yoghurts and bake your own low-sugar snacks so there’s no need to invest in speciality foods. You just need to put a little effort into caring for yourself (yes, be #WomanKind to yourself again!) and spend some time preparing fresh dishes that will make you feel great on the inside, as well as on the outside.pieday friday recipe pastry-free quiche healthy snack hack lunch dinner-2

I shared a pastry-free “quiche” recipe in January

Tip 2 – take the time to eat well. This tip can be interpreted two ways and the first is to actually Continue reading “Pieday Friday – Eat well & healthily this year” »


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Pieday Friday – Healthy pastry-free quiche

Today’s Pieday Friday recipe is so simple that I can’t believe I’ve not baked it before. Considering that quiche is one of my most-loved dishes of all time, I am astounded that I’ve never tried to create a healthy alternative. When I’m being especially ‘good’ with my food choices, I tend to just eliminate quiche altogether, despite it containing lots of the good stuff; vegetables, eggs, dairy and ham. I realised that the only part of a quiche that I’m trying to avoid while making healthy choices is the pastry, so this week I decided to do something about that!pieday friday recipe pastry-free quiche healthy snack hack lunch dinner-2 pieday friday recipe pastry-free quiche healthy snack hack lunchpieday friday recipe pastry-free quiche healthy snack hack lunch dinner-4I considered using bread as ‘cups’ to fill with my quiche filling but I don’t get on particularly well with bread either (I can eat it but the bloating is no fun afterwards!) and I considered doing away with any kind of case altogether, until I realised that this would just be a tortilla (which I love to eat cold in the summer – here’s my recipe) or an omelette. I wanted something more ‘main meal’ than that! So what else could I use instead of pastry to hold my eggy filling? I opened the fridge (as I always do when looking for inspiration) and I realised that I already had the ideal quiche ‘case’ in my salad drawer. Peppers!pieday friday recipe pastry-free quiche healthy snack hack lunch-4 pieday friday recipe pastry-free quiche healthy snack hack lunch-3I couldn’t actually believe I’d never tried it before. Surely a scooped out pepper would be the ideal vessel to bake my quiche filling in? I’d never roasted peppers whole before so I didn’t know how soft they would go in the time it took for the egg to set; the whole thing could have become a big mushy mess for all I knew. But nonetheless, I wanted to try it out because if it worked I’d be able to continue eating healthily while enjoying one of my favourite treats. Here are the ingredients I used to make 6 portions (one half-pepper per person):pieday friday recipe pastry-free quiche healthy snack hack lunch-2

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Great dogs for active people

I love dogs. Even though I’m currently a cat-mummy and have filled my Instagram feed with photos of my furr-babies, I’m also a big fan of dogs. I think people usually describe themselves as being a ‘cat person’ or a ‘dog person’ but I am most definitely both. I can’t walk past a doggy in the park without going in for a stroke, and even driving past one elicits lots of ‘ooh aren’t you fluffy!’ coos from me! Even though my lifestyle doesn’t support dog ownership at the moment, it doesn’t  stop me thinking (and doing some important research!) about what breed of dog that I will adopt in the future, hence today’s blog post. It’s important to have a pet that can fit in with your lifestyle so if you are someone that enjoys being outdoors and taking part in activities you need a dog that can keep up with you! Here are some great breeds for you to consider…border collie mountain dog snow

My dream dog – a border collie

Dogs for runners

Dogs love to run. It’s exciting and fun, and something they are rarely allowed to do in the confines of the home. However, if you plan to take your dog on your daily runs, you need to train them if you plan to run long distances with them. Just like humans training for a marathon, your pets need to gradually work up to your level and distance of running. If you are a serious runner, you need to choose a breed that is up to the task. Here are a couple of good options:

  1. American Staffordshire terrier. This stocky looking dog does not look like a natural runner, but it is actually perfect. It is a powerful animal, with lots of energy and relatively long legs. They can easily keep up with you, and will happily run for hours.
  2. Australian Cattle dogs. Most herding dogs make fantastic running companions. A great example is the Australian Cattle dog. It can run long distances even in harsh environments.Australian_Cattle_Dogs_red_and_blue

  Australian Cattle Dogs – red and blue

Dogs for hikers

All dogs love going for a walk, but some breeds have limited capacity for walking. Many short nosed breeds struggle to walk long distances and maintain a fast pace. They love a walk round the park or to the shops, but taking them for a long hike on a warm day would not be good for them. Here are a few dogs that will cope well with walking longer distances.

  1. Corgis. Despite their short legs, Corgis can walk a long way and they are far faster than you think. Plus, legend has it that Corgi’s were once ridden by fairies (hence the markings on their back) so that makes them my ideal companion!
  2. Tibetan terriers. If you like to hike uphill a Tibetan terrier is a fantastic option. They love to climb and are quite happy in cold conditions, including snow.Corgi-on-the-beach-251307 getty images

Corgi’s are now on the vulnerable native breeds list  Continue reading “Great dogs for active people” »

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