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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Getting the best from your DSLR camera

In terms of making an investment in technology for the long-term, Digital SLR cameras are definitely the way to go. They are able to capture moments for you in ways that your smartphone simply can’t. And (even though there are upgrades available) if you have a decent camera then you can stick with it for life.

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A new camera can generate hobbies, careers and even a lifestyle choice for you. Where you point your camera can be a massive reflection to others of the life that you are currently leading. Here’s how to get ahead and make a good use of your new toy – or how to blow the dust of a DSLR that you haven’t thought of picking up in ages…

Join a photography club

There are so many photography clubs around, you simply have to look online for the one which is most local to you. Here you will be able to listen to talks and show your photography to like-minded people. You will be set challenges each week under a theme, and each week you can present your interpretation of said theme to the other members. The theme could be a place, a person, or something abstract – the sky’s the limit and it’s an amazingly creative way to get your cogs whirring with your camera.

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Get tips from the experts

Going to a seminar or a talk on cameras, or even enrolling on a course to learn more about them will certainly pique your interest. There’s so much more to photography just pressing down a button and hoping for a good shot; the angles, settings and lenses that you uses are all crucial components to getting a great photo. Once you know the basics and how to put them into practice, you’ll be a lot more confident.

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6 Crafty ways to preserve your family’s most precious memories

Family memories come and go so quickly. Even when you wait months for a big occasion – marriage, graduations, 1st birthday parties – the time goes by in a blink. You can make the occasion memorable with some of the party tips I shared on the blog earlier this week, but it’s the reliving of these precious moments in the future that gives me the most happiness. And with a bit of craftiness it is so easy to preserve these memories so that you can enjoy reminiscing time and again. 1. Create holiday jars

Holidays provide the best source of memories. We tend to do things out of the ordinary on holiday – fun activities, enjoying a special meal, or hiking to a beautiful spot – but it’s no good having photos stored on a memory card somewhere. Remembering these moments can help to keep us going when we’re feeling under the weather or sat at our desks while it drizzles outside. “Vacation jars” do just that. They’re so easy to make – all you need is a jar – and the rest of the items you can pick up along the way. Put anything in your jar that reminds you of the last holiday you took, including:

  • Small souvenirs
  • Pine cones or shells (depending on the location you visited!)
  • Pictures (real-life printed photos)
  • Postcards and leaflets
  • Maps and travel tickets

I also made myself a ‘little jar of happy’ which contains anything that has made me happy. If my niece or nephew says something funny I’ll write it down. When I get positive feedback on my work, it goes into the jar. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now and it always puts a smile on my face remembering the good times. 2. Family yearbooks

Why not create yearly yearbooks that show some of the year’s best pictures? Over the past year I actually got some photos printed and it was lovely to have ‘real life’ photos in my hands. We are all taking more photos than ever thanks to camera phones but we rarely ever print them out. If you do a little audit of your photo albums every 3 months and send a few to print, you create your own yearbook for the family to look back on, and if you’re happy to do some scrapbooking (one of my favourite things to do) you can add in a few extra bits alongside your photos such as:

  • Event tickets
  • Birthday cards
  • Newspaper clippings

If you’ve got photos and souvenirs to hand, you could even use screen printing to transform t-shirts into wearable collages of your images if you want to make a lasting, wearable memory. Imagine wear a Christmas jumper this year that has photos of the fun you had last Christmas printed on it! Photos also work great as ‘bunting’in your office or the kids’ bedroom – here’s how to make Polaroid bunting at home.

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Travel aspirations for 2017 – Amsterdam

The trouble with Instagram is that it makes you want to travel. I can barely open the app without spotting photos of my friends flying to far-flung destinations, skiing down a picturesque mountainside or swimming in a turquoise blue sea. And it can’t just be me that’s seeing daily updates like this, can it? Okay, Instagram isn’t exactly a holiday brochure, but it pretty-much has the same effect on me. A photo of a glittering nighttime cityscape? It’s my blogging buddy enjoying a week away in New York. A steaming hot lagoon? That’s my friend’s new year’s trip to Iceland. And the northern lights? My brother’s mate lives in Finland. So forgive me for wanting to research exotic trips every time I try to put another photo of my sewing projects on Instagram (@Cassiefairy if you’re interested!).

Photo: Roetz Bikes

Photo: Roetz Bikes

Budget aside I’d love to visit all of these destinations, but home-buying tends to be an expensive business and I’d like to prioritise that this year. However, I’m sure that there are some nearer-to-home trips that I can take that will be just as Instagram-worthy as my friends’ holidays. So I’ve already been on the CitizenM website this morning, daydreaming of a trip to Amsterdam for 2017.

Photo: CitizenM

Photo: CitizenM

As the capital of the Netherlands, it’s a city that I’ve always wanted to visit but have never found a reason to go. My husband has been there recently, and really I should have gone on that work trip with him but I was too busy to take a break at the time. When he returned home with photos of canals and giant waffles I realised that I’d made a mistake. I vowed to go with him ‘next time’ and I’m already drawing up a list of places I want to visit while I’m there.

van-gogh-museum

Photo: Jan-Kees Steenman

I’ve been recently writing artist profiles so one of the first destinations on my ‘to do’ list is the Van Gogh Museum. I’ve read a lot about the artist and have recently been researching his work, but I’ve never seen his paintings ‘in real life’. When the Sunflowers exhibition was on at the National Gallery in London, the queue was a couple of hours long to see the exhibition, and tickets were rather expensive too. So hubby and I wandered around the gallery instead and, as we were passing a large door, it opened and we could see right into the Sunflowers exhibition. We weren’t more than a few feet away from the painting so technically I have seen it, but only for the few seconds that the door swung open and then closed again. Just that little taste of Van Gogh was enough to make me want to visit the museum in Amsterdam.

Photo: Jan-Kees Steenman

Photo: Jan-Kees Steenman

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5 Reasons why sunset is the best time of day

Blazing red sunsets, rainbow skies, dark silhouettes and pastel hues. All of these beautiful elements combine to make one of the most stunning features of the evening sky – the sunset. If you’ve never watched the sun setting over rolling countryside, perhaps this summer is the time to do it. It’s a really special moment when you spot an unexpected sunset, and it’s even more of an adventure to go out looking for a sunset and trying to capture it in a photograph. But it’s not just the gorgeous colours and inspirational scene that makes sunsets so special. Oh and for the purpose of this blog post I’ve not edited any of these sunset photos, I think natural is already beautiful enough! Read on to find out many more reasons why sunset is the best time of day.photography sunset golden hour photo sun silhouette photography sunset golden hour photo sun silhouette-3The cool down. After a scorching hot day – you know the type, where you have to shelter in the shade just to survive – the sunset comes as a relief. The warmth of the day is still in the air, so you can still wear your daytime dress, but the air cools down to that perfect ‘summer evening’ temperature. The setting sun is still on your face, but you don’t feel like you’re being burnt to a crisp. Seeing as I’m someone who easily burns, this is probably one of the main reasons why I like sunset so much – I can finally venture outside!photography sunset golden hour photo sun silhouette-13 photography sunset golden hour photo sun silhouette-7Photography. Perhaps the most obvious reason that sunset is a great time of day is simply taking photos of it. The stunning colours and clear cloud formations make it much more easy to capture a sunset than a sunrise, or even a daytime sky. At other times of day, you can end up with too much light infiltrating your frame, so images are less clear and colours less vivid. With a sunset, there’s plenty of interesting features (such as silhouettes of rooftops and trees) you can capture against the sky, as well as bright deep colours that show up better on camera than watery daytime tones.photography sunset golden hour photo sun silhouette-4photography sunset golden hour photo sun silhouette-12Lights twinkle. Continue reading “5 Reasons why sunset is the best time of day” »


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Top 5 inspirational Instagrammers

Here’s a helpful guest post by Victoria from Apartment Number 4, while I’m taking a little break. I hope this’ll help you to discover some new accounts to follow on Instagram and provide an endless source of photographic inspiration. And don’t forget to follow Victoria’s gorgeous Instagram account too @victoria_aptno4 – Enjoy!victoria apartment number 4 instagram feed inspirational bloggerAlthough it’s still a toss-up between Pinterest and Instagram as my favourite social media tool to use, I definitely think Insta’s becoming a daily source of inspiration for me. From gorgeous interiors, to the perfect mirror selfie, there are so many ‘grammers killing it right now with their themed feeds. Today I wanted to share five stylish women who inspire me with their perfectly shot Insta’ feeds. Pictured below is pastel beauty Alyssa Garrison of Random Acts of Pastel. Without being massively “girly” in day-to-day life, I’m still a huge fan of anything pink, especially in interiors. This Instagrammer manages to capture those bright candy moments perfectly. I need those lip prints along her staircase! Every time I see a Random Act of Pastel picture, it always manages to brighten my morning up. You can follow Alyssa over at @RandomActsOfPastel.instagrammers inspirational photosI know some people have strong views about Instagram losing it’s original feel of “shot this with my phone and uploaded it within 30 seconds” reality, but I’m all about aesthetics so couldn’t care less if someone is just showing me the best part of their life. I do exactly the same. Why would I show my bin overflowing and the crap beans and toast I had for dinner? I want to show the pretty mint lamp I just bought, styled perfectly in a place where it’s actually not going to stay because it’s not practical in real life! instagram inspirational photography

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My photos from Latitude Festival 2016

Just wanted to share a quick blog post today with some of the photos I took at this year’s Latitude Festival.latitude festival 2016 summer fest suffolk_-12 latitude festival 2016 summer fest suffolk_-11 latitude festival 2016 summer fest suffolk_-2Some of my personal highlights included watching a breath-taking performance by festival novice Jane Horrocks in the Film & Music arena, and sitting in on the Standard Issue Magazine discussion in the Literature tent, where one of my favourite actresses Helen Monks was on the panel.

As you probably know, I only really go to Latitude festival for the comedy, art and theatre performances so it was great to watch some fantastic performers that I’ve never seen live before, including David O’Doherty (who had me screaming with laughter as soon as he started to play his tiny keyboard, and who I later bumped into and snapped a selfie!) and the MC for the comedy tent David Morgan. The Toy Story trilogy acted out by the Comedians Cinema Club was a surprisingly fun way to spend the afternoon.

Last year’s MC Nish Kumar performed again this year, and I chuckled my way through Mark Watson’s lunchtime set. We decided not to watch the standing-room-only performance by Bill Bailey and went to check out Jane Horrocks’ festival debut with the If You Kiss Me Kiss Me Band. Luckily we got there early and ended up with a front row spot as the tent quickly filled to bursting point. I’m certain that Jane’s performance will go down in Latitude history as one of the best festival music sets ever. What a legend. latitude festival 2016 summer fest suffolk_-16 latitude festival 2016 summer fest suffolk_-4 latitude festival 2016 summer fest suffolk_Food was great, the sun was out, I drank lots of milkshakes and brought home the traditional Latitude cup, so all in all it was a good year at the Suffolk-based festival.


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DIY Valentine’s gift – A box of memories + polaroid photos

What do you give to your special someone for Valentine’s Day when you’re both trying to save money and clear the clutter? Something very thrifty and useful, that’s what. I know you wouldn’t expect anything less from me so I’m happy to oblige! I’ve upcycled a gift box that I received for Christmas, used a left-over piece of wallpaper and lots of double-sided tape to create a DIY gift for my husband. Read on to find out how I made this quick and simple gift PLUS you can get a discount on printing your own photos at Cheerz.com by using my code CASGRI for £4 off!DIY thrifty valentines make your own memory box gift_-27 DIY thrifty valentines make your own memory box gift_-26I want to show my husband lots of love on Valentine’s Day (and on birthdays, at Christmas and every other day too, for that matter) but that doesn’t always mean buying something new. I think that experiences and the resulting memories are more important than buying something from the shops, so I wanted to reflect back on the things we’ve done together over the past year, and create a box of our shared memories to look back at. Of course, I want to make it a bit special for hubby, so I’m including a handful of retro sweets and some photo-strips from the Valentine’s range at Cheerz (use code CASGRI for £4 off!) that I just got printed up. These special Valentine’s products are available to order until 4th Feb so get started now to make sure you receive your photos before the big day!DIY thrifty valentines make your own memory box gift_-28 DIY thrifty valentines make your own memory box gift_-4 DIY thrifty valentines make your own memory box gift_-5 DIY thrifty valentines make your own memory box gift_-6But I’m not just making this DIY gift as a Valentine’s Day treat – oh no, it’s totally practical too. This box provides much-needed storage space for all our photos, ticket stubs and scrapbook bits ‘n’ pieces that we’ve collected up over the past year. They’ve been sitting in my desk drawer and I’d like that space back now please! Plus I’m always happy to recycle something rather than bin it, so this festive gift box (it had chocolates in, can you tell?) gets a new lease of life as a dedicated storage box now that the contents have been eaten. Let me tell you how I revamped this tired old gift box – and don’t forget to enter my giveaway below..! Continue reading “DIY Valentine’s gift – A box of memories + polaroid photos” »


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DIY Polaroid bunting project

I once lost a whole load of photos when my mobile phone died. It was before the days of the ‘cloud’ (which I’m still not sure I fully understand now..!) when you had to physically plug your phone into the computer to get images off it. That particular phone could access the internet but I never quite worked how to use it properly, and it was an ‘own brand’ phone so there was no chance I could download Instagram or Facebook and back up my photos that way. Nope, those photos were gone and even the phone-fixing-shop agreed that there was no way I’d be able to retrieve the images. Ever.diy polariod photo wall display decoration using polabox-4diy polariod photo wall display decoration using polabox-24This all makes it sound like it was a long time ago so when I tell you that it was less than two years ago you can imagine the kind of leaps I’ve had to take to embracing new mobile technology. It also shows how much I dwell on losing things. Okay, I don’t even remember what images were on that phone (apart from the Tina Turner concert…) but even so I wish I’d backed up. It was so much easier when photos were photos; every image was printed out and the only way you’d lose them was if you dropped the photo album in a puddle.diy polariod photo wall display decoration using polabox-2 diy polariod photo wall display decoration using polabox-3So now, even though my photos are safely shared on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and my blog, and are all stored on my computer, an external hard-drive, a back-up drive, and on all kinds of ‘clouds’, I’d still rather print out a photo to be sure that it’s not going to be lost. Plus, I get to do all kinds of pretty projects with ‘real’ photos such as scrapbooking, photo montages and the Polaroid bunting that I hung up in my caravan earlier today.diy polariod photo wall display decoration using polabox-16 diy polariod photo wall display decoration using polabox-21 Continue reading “DIY Polaroid bunting project” »


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Decorating my living room using personalised posters

In my living room there is wall which hasn’t been wallpapered and that doesn’t have a piece or art or mirror hanging on it, and every time I sit on the sofa my eye is drawn to the big blank empty space. I knew that I wanted to include some photos of my friends and family in my home (there are no photos of my favourite people anywhere, rubbish I know) and I liked the idea of hanging a photo collage. I’ve seen plenty of examples online – I am addicted to Pinterest, after all – and I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while but until last week I had no idea about how I could go about doing it.

I had loads of printed photos that have I haven’t yet got round to adding to an album or framing, but I remember making a ‘physical’ photo collage with my sister for her living about 10 years ago and it took days, maybe weeks, to add all the photos and frame it. I guess that if I don’t have time to frame one photo, I certainly didn’t have weeks to dedicate to the project! I thought about making a digital collage but I didn’t want to spend hours editing photos and using a program on the computer to create a photo collage, nor did I know how I would get it printed; I won’t be able to use my home printer as it will be too big; and I don’t want to spend a fortune on art printing or canvas wraps etc. I started to research the ways in which I could achieve this tiled photo look and one of the pins that I came across led to a review of PosterFriend. I hopped onto their website and found that all my requirements could be met by one company so I set to work creating my artwork.

posterfriend wall art photography

This website connected to my Facebook and Instagram feeds and allowed me to choose any of the photos that I’d ever uploaded. This made creating the artwork super-simple: it was just a case of opening an album on Facebook and dragging-and-dropping the photos that I wanted. Of course, I looked in the “Photos of Cassie” album first and made sure that all my favourite snaps of myself and hubby were included before adding loads of photos of our friends and family throughout the year. I shifted some of the photos around within the standard layout so that my photos were roughly laid out as Spring photos at the top moving down to Winter and Christmas photos at the bottom of the poster. A couple of clicks later and the poster was ordered – I couldn’t believe how quickly I’d managed to achieve exactly what I’d wanted, without having to faff around with uploading individual photos or formatting the layout myself.decorating-with-wall-art-posters-by-posterfriendDuring the following week the poster arrived and it was even better thank I’d expected – and bigger! Even though I’d ordered an A1 poster, I didn’t really realise how big it would be and how many photos would be on it, but it was just what I wanted and it does look excellent! I’m toying with the idea of buying a big frame to hang it in, but in the meantime I’ve tacked it up and it is proudly displayed in my living room. I no longer have to look at that blank wall and now I smile when I glance at the poster and see loads of photos of my family and friends all neatly displayed on one gorgeous poster!


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Festive framed artwork decorations

I’ve spotted a trend for festive interior decor this year – framed Christmas prints. I’ve seen them popping up in interior design magazines and DIY hacks are all over Pinterest so I’m certainly going to be following this trend and creating my own festive artwork this year. I love this idea for Christmas decorating because it takes up no room, just a little wall space, plus it’s thrifty – you can use frames that you already have hung in your home and simply replace the images for the month of December with your favourite festive quotes or photos.

festive christmas posters DIY art print

Image courtesy of www.landeeseelandeedo.com

There are plenty of ready-made and ready-framed artworks out there to buy, but I think it’s even more special if you make your own. I love the idea of printing quotes over the top of sheet music – an idea that I might use myself to decorate my bedroom for Christmas, which will tie in with the makeover ideas I’m planning. And this is the perfect opportunity to design a piece of artwork yourself, simply hop on the computer, type out your favourite festive quotes and print them out. Make like a graphic designer and use different colours, fonts and text sizes to add interest to your prints. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing and check out my Chirstmas board on Pinterest for all the image credits:

 DIY festive christmas posters artwork prints

You don’t only have to stick to quotes – images from Christmas films, vintage christmas cards and your own festive family photos can be collaged together on the computer to create a unique artwork that is personal to you and your family – maybe get a copy printed out for each family member and you can all hang your festive artwork each Christmas from now on.

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