Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


How to restore leather furniture + I’m in issue 38 of Reloved magazine!

I have some wonderful news to kick start the new year – I’m in Reloved magazine this month! My “How to restore a leather chair” project has been given a full four-page spread in the magazine AND it even made the front cover; look carefully and you can see it in the thumbnail images at the bottom of the cover! Not only that, but I’m also their Take 10 interview on the last page – wow!reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-1I said once before that ‘you know you’ve made it when…’ you’re in the same magazine as Max McMurdo and Annie Sloan but this is the second time it’s happened now, so I’m beginning to settle into my role of upcycler/writer. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting to find my work in a magazine on the shelves of our local newsagents! The eagle-eyed of you might have spotted an Instagram snap of me grinning from ear-to-ear holding a copy of Reloved in WH Smith. I’m super-cheesy, I know, but it was an incredibly proud moment for me nonetheless.reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-2The project I shared in Issue 38 of Reloved was how to repair crumbling cracked leather. My husband bought this chair from the carboot sale but it was in awful condition and needed a lot of TLC to bring it back to life. And that’s exactly what we did – by the end of the makeover the leather was supple and shining once more, the colour was richer than ever and the cracks and splits were gone. I’ve included the full project pages below so that you can read the step-by-step guide yourself, just in case you too have some beyond-help leather furniture that needs fixing up. reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-3As you can probably tell I’m REALLY chuffed to be featured in my favourite magazine and I’m over the moon that the editor wants me to come up with more projects for the publication in the future. In fact, I’ve already sent over another DIY project for Valentine’s Day and I spotted a photo of it in the preview of the next issue so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to share another project with you again next month too!reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-4Below are my project pages from inside the magazine but be sure to pick up a copy of Reloved for yourself this month because it’s packed full of sewing, craft, diy and upcycling projects including some step-by-step guides by Max McMurdo, Sewing Bee winner Matt Chapple, printer Joy Jolliffe, ‘salvage sister’ Charis Williams and author Kate Beavis.

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Tuesday Shoesday ~ My shoes for the Cosmo Blog Awards

The Cosmopolitan Blog Awards ceremony is one week away! Yes, this time next week I will be on my way to London to attend the biggest event in the blog world’s calendar and I’ve been worrying myself silly about what to wear. This is a super-fashionable magazine, and hundreds of on-trend fashion bloggers will be attending, so I’m getting all flustered about what to wear. I mean, what if someone photographs me? I’m quite happy to have no one seeing me on a day-to-day basis so to be seen in public is quite a big deal for me! So I’ve started from the feet up and have got myself some shoes ready for the big event. At least I know I’ll be comfortable when I walk into the venue in these little beauties.Shoes for the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 from Hotter-6 Shoes for the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 from Hotter-7

I first met Mel from Hotter shoes when she was a judge in my category at the National Blog Awards. She was kind enough to give me feedback on my blog after the event and I’ve since chatted with the whole Hotter team, so I knew that this would be a good place to start to get advice on what shoes would be best to wear to a dressy event, without being uncomfortable or toppling over (my worst nightmare!). So I got in touch and luckily they were able to point me in the right direction – right towards these gorgeous ‘France’ heels.Shoes for the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 from Hotter-4 Shoes for the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 from Hotter-5Seeing as I still don’t know what dress I’ll be wearing for the awards ceremony, I thought it would be best to choose a neutral shoe, and after finding lots of stunning shoes in taupe, tan and grey on the Hotter website, I asked for their expert help in choosing which pair would be best. Thankfully, they were able to help me whittle down my shortlist and suggested this pair of black, mid-heel shoes. And I have to say that I completely agree with their choice.Shoes for the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 from Hotter Shoes for the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 from Hotter-3Not only are they a stunning black leather in an on-trend round-toe shape, but they are practical too: The t-bar strap will hold the shoes firmly in place to ensure that the shoes don’t go flopping off my feet, and this will help minimise rubbing on the heel when I walk. The soles have Hotter ‘Comfort Concept’ cushioning which keeps the soles of my feet from becoming sore during a night out and the mid-heel means that there will be less painful pressure on the balls of my feet. Shoes for the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 from Hotter-2

All of this will ensure that I can carry on networking, partying and dancing throughout the Cosmo Blog Awards ceremony without wincing at my sore shoes. Now I can’t wait to get there!


Tuesday Shoesday ~ At the school gates…

Autumn term. It’s finally here. I wait and wait for September to arrive for two reasons; firstly, as a perpetual student I’ve always loved starting a new course each September and relishing the potential new learning experiences it can bring, and secondly, because I see it as the start of the run-up to Christmas! I’ve always found that the autumn term flies by in  flurry of fireworks, Halloween and festive events and in no time at all we’re singing Alde Lang Syne.  And I really can’t get in trouble for saying the ‘C-word’ too early because from today it’s actually only 100 sleeps til Christmas, woop!back to school shoes trend for autumn winter

The start of September sees countless children all around the country heading back through their school gates to carry on learning and I always feel slightly jealous of the teenagers who get to spend another year at high school, surrounded by their friends, learning something new every day. They might not see it quite that way at the moment (as my little sister can testify!), but I know I’d love to relive my school days and I’m sure I would get more out of it the second time round; I think I’d appreciate it more – especially compared to the ‘real world’ of work!

Not only are the little ones heading back to school, but it’s the same in colleges and sixth forms around the country, and soon university students will be moving back into their halls of residence in time for Freshers’ week. And according to the National Student Survey we’re all loving it; This year’s results showed that student satisfaction is at a 10 year high! Are all the students around the country as keen on education and as easily excitable as me? I’m not sure, but one thing’s for certain; whether we’re going to primary school, high school, sixth form, college, university, leisure learning, work or even doing the school-run… we deserve ‘back to school’ shoes!back to school shoes ideas for autumn winter 2014It’s one of the perks of going to school – that day at start of September that your parents take you to the shoe shop to have your young feet measured and to choose a new pair of school shoes. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a say in which pair you wear and I remember always choosing a Wizard of Oz style sparkly shoe, although each year I seemed to end up going to school in black leather lace-ups. Well now that I’m a grown up, I’m actually glad that my mum made these decisions for me, as it has definitely influenced my style over the years – just look at the ‘back-to-school’ shoes that I’ve chosen for myself this year – a gorgeous patent pair of lace-up shoes from Clarks.back to school shoes for autumn winter 2014

This style of shoe is called the Busby Fizz and I mainly chose them because of the deep ox-blood burgundy leather, which is sums up this season’s footwear trend perfectly. They are great all-purpose shoes so I know that I’ll be able to wear them for most occasions during the autumn term. Thankfully, I AM starting a new course this September so I get to treat myself to all the essential back-to-school kit, including a new pencil case (okay, it’s mostly full of make-up!) and I’d love to get a new satchel, but that’s another shopping trip! Okay, the course I’m studying is an online Journalism course, but that doesn’t mean that I have to go without new term shoes!

The casual lace-ups that I’ve invested in look classy with dresses, will pair up nicely with trousers or jeans, and I love wearing them with cosy coloured tights. It’s my nod to the Autumn/Winter 14 footwear trends of rich colours and interesting textures, although I’m sure that I’ll be wearing these all through the following year too. It’s a style that doesn’t date and the colour is subtle enough to remain on-trend for years to come. I’m certain that I’ll be wearing these when I start another course next year and lets hope my sister doesn’t try to pinch them when she goes off to college too!

busby fizz shoes for autumn term

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Ideas to spruce up your old sofa

Has your sofa seen better days? If the cushions are losing their plumpness and the seams are splitting, you might want to just throw it out. Or do you? That sofa has sentimental value: it was the very first piece furniture you bought with your first salary, it was where you usually have popcorn dates with your spouse, and it’s the most comfortable place in your home. Yes, it might be thread-bare and worn, but you just do not have the heart to get rid of it. That’s how I feel about my old battered leather sofa (that I bought second-hand in the first place) because even though it’s old and a bit saggy, it’s still my dream sofa – the kind that you sink into in coffee shops! – and that kind of comfort only comes from usage over the years.

Well, if your old couch really is that comfortable or sentimental and you cannot stand to be parted from it, you can give it a makeover to get it looking good again. You can still get yourself a new sofa and move the old couch into a different part of the house of course, but there are a lot of different options that you can look at when you are looking to renovate your favourite place to sit.

DIY ideas for a sofa makeover

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Tuesday Shoesday ~ little boots for the little ‘uns

I’ve been thinking it’s about time that my Tuesday Shoesday blog posts begin looking at something different. So far, I’ve always focused on ladies shoes – I know I mentioned mens brogues a couple of weeks ago, but somehow I managed to turn it into a women’s fashion post again. Well this week I am focusing on the little people in our lives and their tiny feet – is there actually anything cuter?!

Start rite brown digby chelsea boots for toddlers

This week I have had the pleasure of reviewing a gorgeous pair of Start-rite boots with the help of my adorable little nephew. When I first flicked through the online Start-rite lookbook I was overwhelmed by how cute the tiny toddler shoes were, and couldn’t believe that the brand had actually managed to recreate shoes that any adult would be happy to wear, but for tiiiiiny feet. There were so many pairs that I wanted for myself – I know I’ve got small feet, but not that small – but I was equally happy to choose a pair of tiny stylish chelsea boots for my favourite little man.

Start rite brown leather digby chelsea boots for toddlers

There were squeals galore when the tiny shoe box arrived containing the world’s smallest replica of a pair of mens leather boots – so well packaged and fantastic quality! I know that whole point of getting a pair of Start-rite shoes is to give your children’s’ feet the best possible support and fit so that they don’t damage their growing feet when they start walking, but honestly, the main attraction for me was how fantastically well-designed and fashionable they look! But as I said, that’s not the point, it’s all about protecting young feet and Start-rite offer whole and half sizes plus 6 width fittings so I can be sure that they are exactly the right size for my little nephew and won’t compromise the development of his tiny feet.

start-rite boots playing with my newphew and his first pair of shoes

I’ve been bursting to share these gorgeous photos of my lovely nephew wearing a pair of Start-rite Digby boots. As soon as we popped the boots on his feet, he was off! Running, jumping around and kicking up the leaves at the playground – for a child who’d only ever toddled around a bit, he was certainly getting a move on now that he had the right footwear! As you can imagine, the boots fitted him to perfection, and they were flexible yet the durable materials were strong enough to withstand all of the mucky activities he was getting stuck into. I think he looks super-cool in the boots and they’ll be great for the whole of the winter. I can’t see them getting ruined or breaking anytime soon, so even after he grows out of them I’m sure they will be polished up ready to hand down to the next addition to the family – or otherwise I want them back, just to look at!

start-rite boots playing in the leaves at the park

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Back to school ~ I’ve started my course

One of the many reasons why I’m so busy at the moment, is that I’ve just started a course. You may remember I mentioned it last week and that I’d said only the week before that I’m definitely NOT studying anything this year! But a course on branding caught my eye, and as an ex-marketing student, I thought it would be a great way to keep up-to-date with new developments in the world of branding and hopefully learn something new. The online world certainly keeps you on your toes, with new ways of communicating being launched almost daily, so stepping out of the world of learning for any length of time would mean being left behind – and I’m too much of a branding-techy-geek to allow that to happen – hence the course.

Cassiefairy blog Leisure learning classes 2013-14

So I signed up and during the month-long wait until the beginning of the course I starting to doubt whether this was really a good idea. How many lessons would the be? Will there be assignments? When would I even get time to do this? As I re-read the course information, I started to think that all this might be beyond me now as I’ve not studied at university level since 2010. Still, I gathered together my notebook and pens and got ready to follow the course on my tablet, but soon realised it was going to be more of a laptop-job – it was much more involved, multi-media course than I’d expected. So for the next 10 weeks I’ll need to carry my laptop with me at all times in order to keep up with the slide shows, videos, audio and articles that I need to study in order to pass the assignments.

At the moment, the laptop hardly ever leaves the house, therefore I have no bag or way of transporting it safely. That proved to be a big mistake with my last laptop when it unfortunately dropped out of the boot of the car. Okay, it was my own fault – I’d put it on the parcel shelf and had completely forgotten that it was there, until I opened the boot outside the postoffice and it thudded onto the ground. So I’ve found another necessity for this course: a laptop bag. This is turning out to be quite a costly period of study!

distressed leather laptop bag holdall and satchel from teals boutique

As you know, I love to distract myself with a bit of online window shopping and, whilst browsing for a sensible laptop bag, I came across the glamourous Teals Boutique website. I found myself drooling over the soft leather and stylish bags (I got a little distracted in the handbag section, but we all know that I don’t need a new handbag!!) and I actually preferred the men’s holdalls and laptop bags to the women’s one’s. There were more designs to choose from, with gorgeous distressed leather and delicious dark chocolate colours, plus I know that hubby will no-doubt be using the laptop bag too, so in order to be couple-friendly, I’ve veered towards the mens. I’m hoping this means that he will actually invest in it himself – I’ve sent him the link to my newly-created Teals Boutique wish list – and I’ll be able to save my pennies this month haha, we’ll see!

So far (1 day in!) the course is going well, and I’m carefully working my way through the course materials – I’ve been sat at my computer for the last 2 hours chain-drinking tea and getting to grips with the subject. I needed to force myself to browse for a laptop bag just to have a break! But I am enjoying it and I’m joining in with online discussions with fellow students; it’s great to get other people’s’ perspectives on the same articles that I’m reading. It’s definitely serving as a good refresher and I can already tell that the world of branding has greatly evolved since I last studied it – in fact, I can feel my brain growing as we speak 😉 I’m off to check out the first assessment details and will update you on my progress again soon!


Tuesday Shoesday ~ Back to school

I’ve always been one of those people who love ‘back to school’ time. I’ve not been at school for many years now, but I still remember getting excited about choosing my new pencil-case and buying stationery supplies ready for the new term. In fact, I think that’s the reason that I stayed at uni for so many years – I just loved to excitement of a new semester, with new notepads and folders, and the chance to be a new you! I am certain the ritual of going to the stationery shop to choose my academic diary and highlighters made me a better student each year – more organised and more committed than the previous year. It’s about starting off determined to improve myself and getting the essential items to do so is equally as important (in my eyes) as actually doing it.

This year however I am not a student, for possibly one of the first times in my life. What will I do with all this free time? (free time, ha whats that?). So what am I to do about not starting “school” in September for the first time in years? Yes, I will go out and buy schools shoes, that’s what!

tuesday shoesday back to school shoes from new look

Just as important as a new pencil-case, the new shoes for a new term are essential for all children, teenagers and adults alike. I love a new pair of sensible shoes and luckily for me these little beauties are bang on trend for autumn/winter. I accidentally bought these shoes yesterday when I popped into New Look to try on a leather jacket just to see if it suited me. Then out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed a SALE sign. One of my favourite signs ever in New Look. So I casually wandered over, being careful not to up  my pace and look too wild-eyed. I was determined that I wasn’t going to buy anything today. However…

These little leather New Look shoes jumped out at me. Cute, ankle-skimming black school shoes. They instantly reminded me of the shoes I used to wear as a teenager: they have a small heel (2 inches was allowed at my high school, 3 inches meant detention), pretty pattern in the leather and lace-ups. I accidentally tried them on. They felt familiar. And so comfortable. What’s wrong with a 2 inch heel these days anyway? I looked in the mirror and my teenage legs were reflected back at me, albeit a few years older. And these shoes were on sale. Sold.

tuesday shoesday back to school black leather ankle shoes from new look

Remember I blogged about the cheapest way to buy shoes recently? Well this is another example of where shopping in the children’s department is a money-saving option. These shoes were eight quid and the teenage shoes go up to a size 6 so who can resist a bargain from the kids section? During the autumn/winter little pumps will replace my suede ankle-shoes that I bought from the children’s range earlier this year so I won’t ruin the suede in the wet weather – yet another reason that popped into my head to justify the purchase yesterday lunchtime. Plus I thought it’d be retro-cool or ironic-chic to wear school shoes as an adult. As long as I don’t start eyeing up tartan pinafores, I think I’ll be okay.

Let me know what you think about back-to-school and getting new shoes for the new academic year – what do you remember getting at the start of a new school term? Please leave me a comment below or tweet me @cassiefairy

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