Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??


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Christmas gift ideas ~ unique self-published books

People love getting really creative, one-of-a-kind books for Christmas. Books that elicit a “where did you find this?” response. As the leading indie- and self-publishing platform, Blurb has an entire online bookstore full of unique books by an incredible array of undiscovered, self-published authors, artists, and photographers. I’ve purchased books in the past written by bloggers who have self-published their work, such as this “21 Crafts to Make You Happy” book below by blogger Abbey Hendrickson, and it’s a great way to buy an inspirational book packed full of the author’s best content. And it’s unlikely that these “indie” books are already in your recipient’s bookshelf, so there’s less chance of giving duplicate gifts! If you’re thinking of giving unique gifts this year, consider these titles costing around £40 or less: 

Abbey Hendrickson blog book crafts to make you happy blogger

Cookie Cravings by Maria Lichty and Heidi Larsen

We all have cookie cravings. Popular food blogger Maria Lichter decided to put them into something deliciously original: A baking book featuring 30 recipes you won’t find anywhere else. 

Dog by My Side by Adam Schnitzer

This charming collection of original, vintage photos shows us that as long as there have been cameras, we’ve wanted to photograph our canine best friends. As a special bonus, there’s a glossary of the early photographic methods used in the original images.

 Around the World with a Toy Camera by Giorgio Giussani

 Perfect for the photography or graffiti-art fan on your list. This book is an explosion of gritty color that explores the wonders of street art and analog photography.

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My bonfire night photos as promised!

Just a quick post this afternoon to share my photos from bonfire night as promised in last week’s post! The plan on ‘actual’ bonfire night was to build a small fire in the back garden and chill out with jacket potatoes for dinner, followed by a lot of playing with sparklers.

bonfire night chilli con carne and coronation chicken jacket potatoes recipe

Well, the rain put a stop to our fire-building plans, and our hopes of marshmallow-toasting vanished, but we still enjoyed tucking into our jacket potatoes (cooked in the oven instead!) with chilli con carne – here’s my recipe – and coronation chicken. After warming up with our massive dinner, we decided to brave the rain and play around in the garden with sparklers as planned. We put the camera on a tripod with an open shutter and tried out writing our names and drawing scenes with the sparklers – here’s how we got on:

cassiefairy blog writing love hearts with sparklers on bonfire night

The sparklers turned out to be a bit too sparkly to make out the writing, but we soon realised that we could get a similar effect using torches, so I got out my special white-and-pink torch, along with hubby’s big strip-light LED torch and had a go at creating some text using the light they gave off – with varying levels of success! What do you think?

cassiefairy blog writing text using torches in the dark and slow shutter speed

Hubby then had the genius idea of using the torches to draw an outline around my little vintage caravan and I think this worked out best of all.  If you’ve been reading my blog over the past couple of months, you’ll know how much my little caravan means to me and I think it’s pretty cool to have a photo of it outlined in pink and white light!

cassiefairy blog outline of caravan using torch light and slow shutter speed photography

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Playing with sparklers on bonfire night

Although lots of fireworks displays took place over the weekend, today is finally bonfire night and hubby and I have decided to have traditional bonfire-fare of jacket potatoes and chilli for dinner, and build ourselves a little bonfire in the garden. I’ll try to take some photos to share with you all, but in the meantime, here are the photos that we took while playing around with sparklers over the weekend – the bottom one is supposed to be a beach, palm tree & the sun.

 cassiefairy bonfire night fireworks sparklers photography effect

Also, I didn’t realise how magical it would be to take my baby nephew to his first fireworks display. I was worried that he might be scared but, safely snuggled up in his daddy’s arms, he was mesmerised by the fireworks and didn’t even flinch at the bangs. I don’t think I watched much of the fireworks display myself, as I was too busy watching his little ‘face of wonder’. He always did like Christmas lights as a tiny baby, so I shouldn’t be surprised that he loves the fireworks too! 

Check out my previous bonfire night blog posts below:


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Workshop number 2

If you’ve been reading my blog over the past few weeks you won’t have been able to miss the fact that I’m currently renovating an old caravan. I’m painstakingly replacing window trims and waterproofing skylights, decorating inside-and-out and looking for storage solutions so that I can use my caravan as a workshop. Yes, very soon I’ll be able to sit in my caravan to do all my sewing projects and to write my blog  and I can’t wait!

The only problem is that hubby has seen the transformation of caravan-to-office and he likes it. In fact, I think he’s getting a little jealous that I have a space of my own while he has no man-cave to speak of.  Okay, he’s got the shed where he shoves all his tools and junk and quickly closes the door before it all falls out again. But he’s got no workspace, and for an artist, that’s pretty bad new. And not just for him; it’s bad news for me too, as paper and brushes and materials are strewn about the living room whenever he wants to make a piece of work. So really, he needs a workspace and that’s where our story starts…

Not content with the ample size of a caravan, hubby wants a serious workshop. It’s going to take up half the garden, or so he says, and it will be insulated, with a proper roof and heating. It will basically be another room in the garden, but with the title ‘man cave’. While he insists that my caravan looks cute and retro, apparently another caravan in the garden will look ‘messy’ and simply would not do. No, he wants double glazing, VELUX® windows and a sturdy door. Possibly even a door mat. This really is going to be a second home, isn’t it?

moodboard for art studio building including VELUX windows office

So before we’ve even finished work on my caravan, I’ve started gathering inspiration from all over the Internet – you know me, I love a mood board! So here are a few of the ideas (above) that I’ve come up with for hubby’s workshop-to-be and you can find the photo sources directly on our shared ‘man cave’ board on Pinterest. I’ve used images in cooperation with VELUX online after browsing their range of windows to get ideas for hubby’s workshop. Despite his ‘technical’ drawings of the building, and even an artist’s impression that he showed me yesterday, I still think might be a long time before he actually gets round to building it… And do we really want to be starting another project right now? at this time of year? when it’s cold outside?? I’m thinking no, but hubby is thinking go, go, GO!

So what do you think of our ideas? Do you think a bit of man space is essential? I know I’m loving having my girly world in my caravan, so perhaps he needs his own space as much as I do? Well see how this project goes and of course I will keep you updated!

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Party ideas ~ Photo Wall

Another feature of our anniversary party was the photo wall. We had a doorway that we needed to cover to stop guests going into the room, so we decided that we would cover it with a sheet of fabric and use it as a backdrop for a photo-booth style photo-wall. So I stitched a wide hem into the top and bottom of the fabric (like the tube that would encase dowling on a roman blind!) and inserted a garden cane in each hem. This meant that I had somewhere to hang the fabric from at the top, and the bottom cane kept the fabric neat and taut. I used a striped canvas fabric from Wholeport for this photo-wall backdrop and set up a tripod with a digital camera programmed onto self-timer.

cassiefairys wedding anniversary party ideas fancy dress photo booth wall

My husband and I then had an enjoyable shopping trip at a carboot sale to buy fancy dress accessories and hats for our guests to use as props for their photos. We set a limit of no more than 50p per item and I especially enjoyed buying two massive sombrero hats for 50p each! We already had a few wigs at home to add to the feather boas, bunny ears and police helmets that we bought so we stored them all in a big hamper for our guests to choose from while taking their photos. When I told my mum why we were buying these silly odds and ends, she insisted that I borrow her Tina Turner wig and chicken hat – both of which went missing at the end of the party – be warned, you WILL probably lose some of your fancy dress items!! So now I’m on a search for a replacement chicken hat and wig to give back to my mum. But as far as the party goes, the photo wall was a great success – we got photos of most of our guests in silly outfits and many of our friends (including my husband) carried on wearing the fancy dress wigs and accessories while dancing the night away!

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