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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How a new dress can help you stay cool this summer

So I went away last weekend. I didn’t go far, just on our yearly jaunt to the Essex coast, but boy was it nice to be beside the seaside. The cool sea breeze was really needed after that heatwave the week before. Even stepping off the promenade and making my way inland caused instant overheating. Blimey it was hot! It was lovely to be on a UK break that actually felt like a trip abroad, and it meant that we could spend more time on the beach together as a family rather than sheltering from the rain in an arcade!hotsquash summer dress cool fabric ss16 outfitI think I’ve mentioned it before but I’m not great with the heat. My pale, freckly skin just doesn’t get on with the sun. On hot days you’ll find me slinking off into the beach hut to shelter from the sun and I’ll always choose to walk on the shadowy side of the street. SPF 50 is definitely my must-have beauty product at this time of year!hotsquash summer dress cool fabric polka dot outfit

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The school summer holidays are here!

Finally it’s the end of term and 6 weeks of the school summer holidays are stretching out in front of me. I can’t wait to take a bit of time off to spend with my family and friends and we’ve already got lots of fun activities pencilled in on the calendar. Tickets have been bought, hotels have been booked and plans have been made – not for a going-away all-inclusive holiday or anything like that – but for lots of fun ‘staycation’ activities, special events in the local area, nights out and guests coming to stay. Here’s my idea of a perfect summer holiday:

summer holidays

Walks along the coast

summer alfresco dining

Al fresco dinners

hanging out with friends during the summer holidays

Hanging out with friends

summer holiday reading

Catching up on reading

summer evenings

Relaxed evenings

I’m hoping for a busy, active, tiring yet relaxing, stress-free summer holiday. Please bear with me if I don’t manage to blog every day during the summer holidays and if I miss an update please be assured that I’ll be back with more news very soon! 🙂


Pretty table-settings for a festive meal ~ & happy thanksgiving!

Today is Thanksgiving Day is the US and I’ve found that it’s quickly becoming a bit of a tradition to celebrate it here in the UK too. Traditionally it’s a special day of relaxation and reflection with all the family and involves a thanksgiving dinner with a roast turkey – similar to our Christmas day celebrations. I’m not sure that all of us in the UK are going the whole hog with a roast dinner etc but some of my pals are celebrating it with a meal with family or friends this weekend. Taking this into consideration, and seeing as some of my lovely blog readers are based in the USA, here are a few ideas for creating pretty place-settings for your thanksgiving table, which you can also use for your festive table settings over Christmas too!

thanksgiving meal place settings for personalised table plan

Get out all your best crockery and cutlery – what’s the point of saving something for ‘best’ if you can’t use it during the holidays! Lay each place setting with care, so that everyone has all the utensils they will need to enjoy their thanksgiving meal – this will stop you having to get up from the table during the meal to fetch an extra spoon for someone!

Use placemats and stack up plates with pretty patterns to create a gorgeous place setting. This will delight your guests and get them excited about the feast you have in store for them – if you’ve taking this much care over the table settings, just imagine how amazing your festive meal will be!

thanksgiving place settings for personalised table plan

Include a little treat or favour on the plate – I’ve added a cheeky rum toffee – and an activity sheet is good for both children and adults alike. Here I have used brown paper torn out of a spiral-notebook and created a ‘gratitude’ sheet so that guests can take time to think about what they are thankful for and make a note of it on the paper. This can be especially handy to focus young minds if you’re planning to go round the table later to share your thanks – think of it as a thanksgiving cheat-sheet!

Personalise each place setting with a name-tag, which can be as simple as writing the names on luggage tags or Christmas gift tags. Here I have layered cardboard over textured ribbon and simply written on the family members’ names and pegged it to their note paper using an old-fashioned wooden clothes peg.

thanksgiving meal place settings

Use glasses and candles to create a table that sparkles and add any cute ornaments that you have around the home to make your festive place settings even more unique – I’ve used these little silver birds that I’ve previously used in my autumn floral display and they reflect the candle light perfectly! I’m also using gold wine glasses and orange tea-light holders to create a warm glow over the table.

I hope you try out a few of these ideas and give your family a thanksgiving or Christmas that they will never forget and check out my autumn floral display blog post for ideas for creating gorgeous thanksgiving displays all around your home.

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My party season prep – choosing a party dress

I know I’ve mentioned it earlier this week but I really do mean it – now that Halloween is out of the way, it means that the party season is just around the corner and I can start getting excited about Christmas! Up til now I’ve been so busy sorting out my haunted house and spooky costumes to even think about what I’m going to wear for the festivities, so my attention has firmly turned on Christmas.

What I do know though, is that I want to spend a little extra this year and get something really special that will make me the belle of the ball. So, I’m going to ditch the high street and pick up some designer delights instead. I don’t normally do this but if a girl can’t treat herself at Christmas, when can she!? Of course, I still want to get a thrifty bargain and find things cheaper than full-price so I’ve been having a look online in search of the perfect party outfit and I stumbled across Psyche. I really like it because it stocks ranges from some of my favourite designers. Here are some of my best finds:

Ted Baker Lace and Velvet Dress

It is very rare to find a dress that nails multiple trends, but this Ted Baker Lace and Velvet dress does exactly that. Midi length – check. Lace sleeves – check. Velvet – check. This figure-hugging dress oozes sophistication and elegance. The lace detailing across the top and sleeves gives just a subtle hint of skin, making it understatedly sexy. I would team this dress with a pair of killer black heels and a slick of red MAC lipstick to really vamp it up. Velvet isn’t the most flattering though, so I may have to invest in some of Gok Wan’s control pants depending on how many mince pies I have!

my favourite party outfits from psyche online clothing store 

The Pretty Dress Company Red Lace Dress

Christmas is the most acceptable time of year for you to wear red. This doesn’t mean you have to go for a tacky Mrs Claus outfit, though. Why not go for this red lace dress from The Pretty Dress Company, and exude glamour come Christmas day? The square neckline will provide just enough cleavage, while the lace panelling provides a sexy touch that creates an enviable hourglass shape in the process. I’ve fallen in love with this dress and at under £100, who can resist!? 

French Connection all-in-one Jumpsuit

I know that everyone will be going for dresses this year, so I am thinking about choosing something a little bit different. I am really tempted by this French Connection Jumpsuit. The cut is just perfect, with the V-neck showing off just enough bust and the high waistband emphasising my curves. It’s a bit plain though, so I will jazz it up with some killer accessories. I’m thinking a sparkly belt and statement necklace. 

Decisions, decisions..!


Easter activity & recipe for pretty iced biscuits

Any excuse to make a sweet treat eh? And Easter is the perfect time to make something sweet for the family over this 4-day weekend. My mum gave me these cookie cutters last week, so I took the hint and rustled up a batch of iced biscuits for us all to enjoy with a cuppa over Easter – here’s how they turned out:

If you’ve found yourself with a little time on your hands and want to rustle up something to eat that isn’t chocolate here’s a recipe for some yummy sugar biscuits. The baking and decorating process is practically fool-proof (although I did singe the edges of a couple of biscuits, oops!) so it’s easy to get the kids involved and stop them from complaining of being bored over the Easter holidays.

pieday friday easter chick cookies iced hen biscuits recipe by cassiefairy

Ingredients: 125g butter, 125g caster sugar, 1 medium egg, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 250g plain flour

pieday friday easter chick cookies iced cute bunny rabbit biscuits recipe by cassiefairy

Beat the sugar and butter together until light and creamy then add the egg and vanilla extract and mix. Sift half the plain flour into the bowl, mix and then add the rest of the flour and mix into a soft dough. Knead the dough until smooth and wrap in cling film before chilling in the fridge for at least half an hour. When you are ready to make your biscuits, preheat your oven to 180 °C /350 °F and roll out the dough on a floured surface. Use cookie cutters to cut out any shapes you like and move onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper or a baking liner. Bake Cook for approx 10-15 minutes until light golden brown – really keep an eye on them towards to end to prevent the edges of the cookies from getting singed!

Allow to cool before the fun part begins – get the whole family decorating the biscuits with icing, sprinkles and sweets yum!

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The joy of “Snow Days” & my photos of the big freeze

Well, the UK weather forecasters have been predicting a deep-freeze for a while now, with a freakishly low-temperatured cold-front predicted to hit the country this week – and for once they actually got it right – it snowed! At least in some parts of the country that is.

snowy trees snow church photo uk britain england snowy weather

When I wake up to a blanket covering of snow I always get that excited feeling, like I’m a child on Christmas morning. Nothing much comes close to throwing open the curtains on a frosty morning and peeping out to see the whole scene covered in deep snow; the window hurring up as you start breathing a little faster because you know it means a day off and outdoor fun!

snow scene road uk weather england snowy icy ice

And you can tell it has been snowing before you even open the curtains because there is a brighter, whiter glow coming from around the window. That gets you out of bed a lot faster than normal as you rush to investigate, and your blurry eyes are briefly blinded by snow-glare. When it’s a school-day, kids (and teachers, I’m sure) are all half-heartedly dressed for school, waiting, huddled around the radio listing for local school-closure updates. Another great feeling when you realise that your school is shut – whoooops go up all round and school shirts are quickly swapped for woolly jumpers and wellies. And everyone knows that it is also exactly what happens when adults get an unexpected snow-day off work too. None of this catching up on the housework, doing a bit admin from home, naaaaah – get the sledge out of the shed and put your bobble hat on!

igloo snow ice weather uk britain cassiefairy blog

So (even though I have plenty of ‘working from home’ I can do) I’ve had a couple of days of snowmen, igloo-making and getting sopping wet during snowball fights. I’m so glad I bought those snow-boots earlier this year 🙂

So did it snow where you are? Do you love or loathe snowy weather? And get in touch with your photos 🙂

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Exterior Illuminations – that’s Christmas lights to you and me…

One of my favourite things about this time of year is driving around in the evenings and spotting all the houses who are celebrating the Christmas season with an abundance of fairy lights! My brother is the king of ‘exterior illuminations’ as he calls it; ever seen the film Deck The Halls? – yep, that’s him! 😉 He tells me that one day he’ll have led lights built into the window frames of his house! I think he’s aiming for something like these displays from who install amazing illuminations – follow them on Twitter @XmasDecorNepa:

Christmas lights house nepa

amazing christmas lights house nepa

christmas house fairy lights nepa

beautiful christmas display house nepa

I think it’s great when people make an effort to decorate the outside of their homes – it gives the impression of a happy, jolly family inside and makes the home look welcoming. As outdoor lights are pretty pricey, I only have a few twinkling lights outside my home, but I’ve made the effort to make my doorway and porch look pretty with warm white lights (from Dunelm Mill) wrapped around an artificial garland with pretty vintage roses tied on. I have also put cheaper indoor fairy lights around the inside of my windows – giving a matching warm white glow.

christmas lights around porch with rose garland

A small strand of flashing rainbow-coloured lights on our hydrangea bush completes my lights display and makes me happy when I’m driving down the driveway towards my festive home in the evening! Let me know if you like to decorate your house for Christmas – and send me a photo if you see any amazing christmas displays on your travels!

PS: How amazing is this lighthouse decorated by – simply amazing!

christmas lights display on lighthouse nepa


My local Christmas lights switch-on

This weekend I went to the Christmas Lights switch on event in our nearby town and this had become a bit of a festive tradition for our family in recent years. I happened to be shopping in the town when they were installing their Christmas lights this year so I got a sneaky peek at the decorations and even saw their massive tree being delivered (with a huge wooden ‘pot’ surround that I could actually live in!) 

I am always surprised that even the smallest of villages have a switch-on ceremony and there’s always a lovely festive atmosphere when the locals turn out in all weathers to kick-start the festive celebrations. Some of the bigger cities have celebrities turning on the lights and some events include performances from bands, panto sketches, real reindeer (which I saw last night!!) and Santa Claus himself.

I think the Christmas lights make even the smallest town appear to sparkle after dark and certainly gets me in the mood for the Christmas shopping and drinking hot chocolate in the snow! I’m glad that this tradition remains and that more and more locations are putting up fairy lights and trees to celebrate the season. Try to get along to a lights switch-on event this year; next weekend is a busy one for this kind of event – check your local “what’s on” guide in the newspaper or online and have a whole lotta festive fun!


Tuesday Shoesday – A Christmas Gift in Your Shoebox

Do you remember doing a gift shoebox for charity as a child? I remember that we all used to make them at school or at playgroup each year, and as I’ve become an adult I’d just assumed that this charity gifting no longer went on. But it certainly does!  The Samaritans run which asks for donations of christmas gifts in a shoebox for either a boy or a girl and they distribute the boxes to children overseas.

For the first time ever, you can now track your shoebox to find out where it goes to – make a shipping donation of £2.50 online and Operation Christmas Child will email you around Christmas time to let you know where your shoebox has ended up. There are still many local groups collecting for the shoebox appeal within the next week (I know that the village church near me is still taking donations!) so check your local newspaper or village newsletter to find out when collections or wrapping parties are going on in your area. Shoe retailers Shoezone and Stead & Simpson are giving away shoeboxes to fill, and some store are also taking collection of the filled boxes, so give your local store a call to find out their deadline for donations. And start wrapping!



Getting Crafty for Christmas

This week I treated myself to a book that I’ve had my eye on for a while called Crafting Christmas Gifts. I know it’s a little early to be thinking about Christmas, and usually I wait until after bonfire night before starting to get excited about the big day, but this year I’m going to need to start early if I want to make gifts with my own fair hands.

So I took the plunge and ordered it whilst thinking to myself “surely I’ll be saving money by getting it: think of all the presents that I won’t have to buy this year because I’ll be making them all instead!”. I’m a crafty girl and love sewing, but I often lack inspiration, so I thought the book would at least get my creative juices flowing!

I didn’t have to wait long for it to arrive and I excitedly tore into my parcel to check it out. The book was bigger than I expected and had fantastic quality photographs throughout. The step-by-step instructions are very clear and I especially like the cute illustrations showing the process for each project. As I quickly discovered, there’s not only gifts to be crafted from this book, but there’s also a wealth of festive decorations including garlands, baubles and stockings – so I can add new items to my Christmas decor that I’ve made myself which will save me even more money!

At the back of the book there are all the templates and patterns you’d need to complete all of the craft projects and now all I need to do is get myself some festive fabric so that I can start making – I think I’d better get back on the Dunelm website and order some!

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