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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DIY Neon sign for parties & weddings

I’ve made my first ever neon sign. It’s going to take pride of place in my office in a few months time but I couldn’t wait for all the decorating to be done before showing you the project. It took just a couple of hours, a can of bright pink spray paint and a length of EL wire to create this unique sign. So simple, but really effective. The full step-by-step guide to making the neon sign can be found in my blog post for Make It Yours. It may look complicated, but it’s actually a really simple process that involves some easy drilling and a spot of hot-gluing. I got my EL wire from Ebay, but it’s also available on Amazon and in craft stores. It came with a battery pack and the glowing neon is powered by a couple of AA batteries. The wire has three settings – flash, quick flash and steady on. And if you’re not a fan of pink don’t worry, it also comes in blue, purple, green, red and yellow, so your sign could be any – or all – of the above colours.In fact, I think it’s such a simple enough process that I could happily knock up a sign like this for any occasion. How about a ‘just married’ sign for weddings, a ‘Ho Ho Ho’ for Christmas, a huge glowing ‘2018’ for New Year’s Eve or a ‘#girlboss’ sign for your office? If you can think up a phrase, you can make it in neon! The sign I made works great as a candy station for a wedding, anniversary party, hen do, birthday party or even for the upcoming Valentine’s day. Give it a try – I bet you’ll impress yourself with your neon-sign-making skills!

I’m kind of addicted to this technique now – I want to make all kinds of signs in neon and I can already imagine my Halloween decor! But this isn’t the only DIY guide I’ve shared on the Make It Yours website – check out my profile and have a look at my other projects including snowy window decorations, a festive chair, how to distress furniture and a vintage bike makeover. There’s plenty more coming over the next few months so keep an eye on the website for more easy, thrifty and colourful projects during the Spring.


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DIY autumn decoration – patterned branch

Today I’m sharing another fantastic DIY project that I found in Decorate for a Party by Holly Becker and Leslie Shewring. This patterned branch would be a great photo backdrop for a party or could even be hung in your home to introduce a rustic feeling to the room. I love to decorate my living room for autumn with pumpkins and flowers, so I’d hang something like this above my sideboard, using autumnal colours and textured fabrics.decorate-for-a-party-p127-photography-by-holly-beckerThis project is also a great way to use up all those fabric offcuts that are too small and thin to use but that you just can’t throw can away! If you have a rummage through your sewing cupboard you’ll probably find all the scraps you need! Or you can buy some low-cost fabric odds-and-ends or ribbons from the haberdashery. It’s a really quick and simple project and all the step-by-step details are below. Plus, there’s a couple more ideas for using branches and fabric this autumn too, such as this fun den and cute packed lunches (below). Have fun making this autumnal decoration and let me know how you get on if you give it a try!decorate-for-a-party-p123-photography-by-holly-beckerThis branch can be made before your party to mark the party spot or later, during your party by inviting the children to help you, because it’s easy and fun. Or, for a party you’re hosting at home, you can make one to display over a buffet or even in another room of your home as additional decor.

YOU WILL NEED a straight branch, cotton fabrics in various prints, white linen (lightweight), pine cones, thin copper wire, scissors, string

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Pieday Friday – Chocolate gingerbread skeletons recipe for Halloween

A slightly different take on the classic festive gingerbread man, this cookie dough contains cocoa powder so it produces a dark, crisp biscuit. When cut out with a gingerbread cutter they’re the perfect shape for icing a skeleton design for Halloween. The darker colour biscuit emphasises the spooky shape and tastes even better than normal gingerbread thanks to all the chocolate in the recipe!diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-12I think that these homemade biscuits would be great to give out to trick-or-treaters or could be the dessert for your spooky Halloween party. Here’s how to make the dough and bake the perfect chocolate gingerbread skeletons:diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-11Ingredients for around 18 biscuits (depending on the size of your cutter): 300g plain flour, 50g cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon ground ginger, 120g butter, 120g brown sugar, 140g golden syrup, icing sugar for icing the skeleton shape.diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-puddingdiy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-2Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Mix flour, cocoa, ginger powder and butter together in a bowl. Either use your fingers to rub the butter into the flour, like a crumble recipe, or put into a food processor and pulse together until it forms a crumbly consistency. Drizzle in the golden syrup and continue pulsing the processor until it forms a dough, or mix with a knife if you’re doing it the manual way.diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-3Step 2: Divide the dough into quarters and place between two sheets of greaseproof paper. Roll out the dough then peel away the top layer of paper.diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-4 diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-5diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-6Step 3: Use a gingerbread man cutter to press shapes into the dough. Peel away the excess dough, leaving the gingerbread man shapes on the greaseproof paper.diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-7diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-8

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How to plan a beautiful baby shower

When your pal is expecting her baby it’s a joyous occasion that you may wish to celebrate. Gathering all her friends around for a lovely afternoon tea party is a lovely way to celebrate your friend, and can even be used to reveal the gender of the baby. It’s basically a much calmer, daytime version of the hen party and you all had a great time at that party, didn’t you?! Basically, I think that any opportunity for a party and to get together with friends should be taken so here are my tips for baby showers:

baby-gold-party-shower-gender-reveal-partiesImage from BestFriendsForFrosting.com

Location: It’s likely that a baby shower will take place in someone’s home. Perhaps grandmother-to-be has a big enough conservatory to serve up an afternoon tea? Maybe a summer garden party is more your thing? Either of these options will hep to keep costs to a minimum as you won’t have to pay out for a venue. However it does mean that you’ll have to sort out the food yourself. Alternatively, a lovely lunch could be arranged at a favourite restaurant or tea shop, so ask around for prices per head and see if you can get a deal for a group booking. decorate-for-a-party-p131-photography-by-leslie-shewring

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Guest post – 5 tips for organising a low-cost hen party at home

He popped the question, she said yes, and then she popped the question to you – will you be my bridesmaid?! Weddings are a wonderful time of celebration, and it is an honour to be asked to be the bride’s right-hand lady during such a joyous occasion. However, before you start dreaming of all the beautiful dresses, the girlie shopping days and the flowing bubbly drinks, there is a hen party to organise. Here we give you some fantastic tips on how to organise the perfect hen party at home!

Fruit Cubes for Sparkling Cocktails

Check out my recipe for fruity cubes to jazz up your hen party bubbly

 1. Decide on the who, where and when:
This is the basic information required to get going with your planning. You should probably enlist the help of the bride in this part too as you don’t want to forget anyone she may want there. Obtain a list of invitees from her and agree when suits her best to have the hen. The where and what can be kept a surprise if you prefer. Decide where is best to host the hen party. If going with a home party then will it be based at your home, the bride’s, the mother of the bride’s or another friend’s house? The best part about having the party at home is that this can really help to keep the costs down. Everyone knows weddings can be expensive events, so if you can all avoid having to pay out for accommodation just before the big day, that’s a bonus!L&A-LowRes-271

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Shab-Fab: DIY Party Decor

If you’re planning a summer party but want to stick to a budget, how can you get a pulled-together chic look for only a few pounds? Well, if you’re up for a little DIY then adopting a ‘shabby chic’ style will do the trick. Your party decor can be as quirky as you like and, because you’ll be making most of the decorations yourself, it’s surprisingly affordable too. Whether you’re planning a wedding, a vintage hen party, a pretty birthday party or simply a summer gathering with friends, adopting a shabby chic theme makes it easy to plan special event with few resources. Read on to find out how…vintage china crockery floral shabby chic party ideas inspiration low cost budget thrifty table setting birdcage flowersTables and chairs
A shabby chic scheme calls for a lot of mixing and matching, so if you can borrow tables and chairs from friends, all the better. You may already have a house full of shabby chic furniture but even if you don’t have any chairs at all, you can unify those you’ve borrowed to create a cohesive look for the party. If your friends aren’t too keen on your idea to spray paint all their chairs white(!), simply decorate the backs of the chairs instead. Unify the different shapes by using the same colour fabric on each chair, hanging the linens down to cover at least two-thirds of the legs. Layering different shades of white is a nice way to keep the palette neutral without being too uniform.chair linens ribbon floral shabby chic party ideas inspiration low cost budget thrifty table setting

Chair and images above from Hostess with the Mostess blog

Wherever quilting supplies are sold, you can usually find packets of fabric with complementary colours and patterns. If these are too expensive, just get your ideas from the pre-mixed packs and buy some patterned fabrics individually. For a less whimsical feel, again go with layered shades of white: mixing cottons, linens, and ribbon. Cut them into uniform strips of about 2 inches wide and tie them to the backs of chairs. Quantity is key here: really fill the backs or it will look like an afterthought. Tie the strips horizontally with the ends coming out the middle to create a long ruffle or tie vertically and gather them in the middle with a bow or flower.carnnation flowers floral centrepiece shabby chic party ideas inspiration low cost budget thrifty

shabby chic flowers from The Bridal Guide

Centrepieces
If you’ve chosen really colourful fabrics, you’ll want a little less colour in the centrepiece, so you could go with simple greenery. Alternatively, white chairs beg to be paired with colourful flowers. Some classic shabby chic centrepiece basics would be birdcages, lanterns, or white ceramic pitchers. If you have a little craftiness in your DNA (and have the time!) cover aluminium cans with patterned paper, tie ribbon around them, and fill with peonies. Cheaper flowers can be bought from supermarkets and you could choose the most ‘blossomy’ stems so you’ll need fewer flowers to fill vases. Carnations (which are cool again these days!), Sweet Williams and scented stocks all fill a lot of space and don’t cost too much. Alternatively, pick your own flowers from the garden; daffodils in spring, foxgloves in June and hydrangea in August-September. If you want variety but don’t want it to look too ‘over the top’, mix up different types of flowers but use the same holders on each table.vintage china crockery floral shabby chic party ideas inspiration low cost budget thrifty table setting

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3 cheap party ideas (for this bank holiday & beyond!)

If you love entertaining and organising parties, but haven’t currently got the budget to spend on a fancy dinner party or big blow out with drinks, decorations and entertainment, then that’s no reason to put your hosting skills on ice. Bank holiday weekends tend to have a party atmosphere (woo an extra night out!) and bring out a fun, cheeky side in everyone so it’s a great time to get your pals together for an impromptu party. There are lots of ways you can put together a fun gathering for your friends without spending much at all, and can be just as much fun as elaborate parties if you have some lively guests and keep everybody mingling. Here are three thrifty ideas for parties you could hold this bank weekend and beyond…

‘Pot Luck’ BBQ

Summer is coming, and this can only mean barbecues. Honestly, it wouldn’t be a bank holiday without someone dragging a BBQ out of the shed and getting all smoky with the sausages. Of course, buying all the food and other provisions for a good barbecue can quickly become expensive, so why not take the American concept of a ‘pot luck’ party? This is where everyone invited has to prepare and bring along a dish, and as it is a barbecue you can also give them the option to simply bring along some meat to cook. This can be a really nice idea if you have some friends who love to show off their cooking skills as they’ll bring something really delicious, but those who are less interested in the kitchen can just turn up with a pack of burgers or chicken for everyone to enjoy.pieday friday bbq flavoured olive burgers recipe

Check out my homemade BBQ burger recipe

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Pieday Friday drinks recipe – Fruit cubes for sparkling cocktails

Today’s recipe is a great one for adding a little bit of excitement to your party. If you’re planning a wedding, hen party, birthday or are even gathering together to celebrate the Queen’s 90th at a street party, this little fruity recipe would be a great addition to a glass of something bubbly. Whether you’re drinking soda, lemonade or a sparkling wine, these little cubes of fresh fruit add a little kick to any glass of fizz, turning it from a basic drink into something special for your big occasion. Read on find out how to make fruity cubes for your very own party and how you can WIN a case of sparkling wine from Premier Estates for yourself!wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-32 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-28 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-21Freezing pureed fruit into ice cubes is a simple enough idea, but it’s the fruity combinations that add the wow factor. Popping a couple of cubes into a champagne flute before topping up with fizz creates a cocktail-in-a-glass. The cubes bubble and roll around in the glass before gradually dissolving to turn your glass of wine into a bellini. It’s a no-fuss drink, with no need to pour measures of puree, so guests can easily add their own fruit flavouring to whatever they are drinking.wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-35 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-20Recipe 1 – Peach & apple. I used tinned peaches for this recipe because they are easy to blend but you can use very ripe fresh peaches if you prefer. I used half a tin, which made enough puree for at least 24 cubes, which is enough for 12 drinks, so you can adjust the quantities if needed. I drained away most of the syrup and added 100ml of apple juice instead. Blend into a pulp and then pour into an ice cube tray and freeze.wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-2 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-3 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-36Recipe 2 – Mixed berries & cranberry. For this recipe I defrosted a bowlful of frozen mixed berries but you can use fresh strawberries, blackberries, cranberries and raspberries for this recipe if you like. I added a sprinkling of sugar to sweeten slightly and then poured over 100m cranberry juice. Blitz the fruit and juice together before pouring into the ice cube tray and freezing. You can sieve the seeds out of the puree if you like, but I wanted to keep them in, so that the floating ice cubes would resemble berries themselves. Again, this made 24 ice cubes, enough for 12 drinks.wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-4 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-5 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-6 wedding hen party queens birthday celebration idea diy fruit puree ice cubes recipe-7Recipe 3 – Lime & mint. This is a flavour combination that would work best in a soda or lemonade (you can add vodka or whisky if you like) rather than a sparkling wine. In this instance, mix the juice of a whole lime into 100ml lemonade, and add a big handful of fresh mint leaves. Give it a quick blend to mash in the mint and then pour into the ice cube trays and freeze.

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Pieday Friday – Tea bread, porter cake, Dublin lobster & moonshine syllabub recipes for St. Patrick’s Day

In preparation for St. Patrick’s Day next week on 17th March I’ve been reading through The Farmette Cookbook: Recipes and Adventures from My Life on an Irish Farm (Roost Books) by Imen McDonnell, who blogs over at The Farmette.ie. With kind permission of the publishers I can share with you some of the delicious Irish recipes from the book with you today. After much deliberation I picked out the Dublin Lawyer lobster recipe, the Moonshine syllabub and a very delicious-looking Chocolate Porter Cake for my Irish-themed Pieday Friday menu. And of course, I couldn’t share recipes from this book without trying the traditional Tea Brack recipe for myself – yum!

Here are the beautiful recipes from The Farmette Cookbook:

IMG The Farmette Cookbook_ p. 49_ Tea Brack_ Roost Books copy

DIVINER’S TEA BRACK

One wet March afternoon, my husband announced that our local water diviner was going to come and help us locate a new well. Up until the moment he arrived, I honestly thought his visit was some kind of madcap prank. I simply couldn’t believe that in the twenty-first century we would be enlisting the services of a person with a willow divining rod to find water on the farm.

But, as I have learned time and time again, many practices of the past are still very much alive in the Irish countryside. When I saw the man hiking in the fields behind our garden, I quickly made up a tea bread to share after he finished his work. We sat around the table sipping tea as I sliced piece after piece of this fruity brack, chatting for nearly an hour, and when the water diviner left, he thanked me for a tea cake as “fine as my mother’s.”

Brack is a cross between cake and bread and is often enjoyed with a cup of tea or coffee.

Ingredients (Makes 1 loaf) 200 g mixed dried fruit, 240 ml hot black tea (Barry’s Tea is perfect if you can get it), 130 g flour, 1½ teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 100 g superfine sugar, 1 large beaten egg, 2 tablespoons orange marmalade

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Grease a 9-inch loaf pan.
  2. Place the fruit in a small mixing bowl, pour the hot tea over the top, and allow to soak until the fruit swells, about 1 hour.
  3. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, egg, and marmalade. Pour in the fruit and any tea left in the bowl; stir thoroughly. Pour into the loaf pan, and bake for 1 hour.
  4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before turning out of the tin. Serve the brack with butter and cups of tea.
  5. Store any leftovers in the bread box, where it will keep for one week.

IMG The Farmette Cookbook_ p. 109_ Dublin Lawyer_ Roost Books copyCLASSIC DUBLIN LAWYER Continue reading “Pieday Friday – Tea bread, porter cake, Dublin lobster & moonshine syllabub recipes for St. Patrick’s Day” »


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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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