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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My bathroom renovation project – Before + during… eek!

Today I’m sharing some snaps of my bathroom renovation project with you. It’s been a couple of weeks of hard work but we’ve made good progress and things are looking up. So I thought I’d post some photos of how the bathroom looked before we started and what we did to improve the room. I’ll be sharing a few blog posts about the bathroom makeover over the coming weeks so that you can see our progress as novice (read: never done it before in my life!) plumbers.

A sneaky peek at my choice of tiles and shower before we get into horrid bathroom photos…

So, here’s what we were starting with. The bathroom is very small and has a weird layout. The bath is where you’d expect it to be, but the sink is hung over the top of the bath. This seemed odd as there is space at the foot of the bath for a sink, but I guess the previous owners didn’t fancy tackling the plumbing involved with moving the sink into a new position. The pipework was partially boxed in, but mostly just exposed as you can see from these photos.

The toilet was a new level of sadness; the plastic cistern was badly stained and the toilet bowl leaked so all the surrounding vinyl tiles were lifting and the wooden board beneath the tiles was blown apart. We later found out that the lead pipe that takes the waste from the toilet into the drains actually had a hole in it. I know it’s gross to talk about it, but it meant that all kinds of toilet waste was seeping into the floor. Just look at those stains – no wonder there was a horrid smell in the room. Sadly, the cracked sink, rusty fittings and stained bath couldn’t be saved and we had to take the whole lot out of the room. I only say sadly because I hate to waste something that I could reuse (and save money on buying a new one) but really, I’m pleased that the gross bathroom is going. I thought that this would take a while but it turns out that removing the old bathroom was the easy part. Well, after turning off the water supply it was just a case of undoing pipes and dragging the bath down the stairs. The wall tiles, however, were a whole other challenge.

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Lint roller printing – and my April showers scarf is in Reloved Magazine!

So excited to share with you my latest project for Reloved because my DIY infinity scarf was chosen to be photographed on a model for the magazine! Pick up a copy of the magazine this week to see my step-by-step guide to fabric printing using a lint roller.It’s a doubly-thrifty project because I’m upcycling an old tablecloth and turning it into a wearable spring scarf by using a lint roller to print on some blue raindrops. Well, if the April showers come, I want to be able to stay warm by wearing my freshly printed infinity scarf, don’t I??I was SO excited when the editor of Reloved asked me to post the scarf to be used in a photoshoot for the magazine. I’ve never had any of my designed professionally photographed or modelled before, so I was excited to see how the photos would turn out. As I flicked through the magazine, a rather glamorous and very colourful image stood out amongst the pages – I love how great the scarf looks on the model and it’s perfectly styled with a bright blue tee. Each step of the process can be seen in Issue 41 of Reloved so grab a copy (you can find it in WH Smith, Tesco or order online with free delivery) and you can learn how to print using a lint roller! Oh, and how to make an infinity scarf too 🙂


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My decoupage Easter egg project was featured in Reloved magazine!

Am I ready for Easter? You bet! I’ve been DIYing Easter projects for a couple of months now and the great news is that two of my projects have been published in my favourite magazine Reloved.The first project was turning some very old books (you know the kind, where loose pages flutter out as soon as you open it) into a traditional flower press. Do you remember pressing flowers as a child? I’m sure we just put them between the pages of books, but this projects takes it one step further with bolts that screw down to compress the flowers.Using a flower press actually makes the pressing process so much quicker – my little daffodil heads were pressed within a day or so! They were ready to be used to make Easter cards, decorations and to decoupage some egg shells. You can find the step-by-step instructions for the flower press in Issue 40 of Reloved – if you haven’t already got a copy, you can order a back-copy or check out the website.These eggs were laid by my mum’s bantam hens so I wanted to preserve the tiny egg shells to use in my easter decorating projects. I used tester pots of matt emulsion paint to give them a pastel colour and then glued the flower heads on with PVA glue.I popped the eggs back into the egg tray and they sit among the freshly laid eggs to decorate the kitchen for Easter. Let me know if you have a go at making these eggs (or the book press, for that matter!) for yourself. And I’d love to see photos of your own DIY easter decorations for inspiration so please tag me in your instagram pics @Cassiefairy.


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Household DIY: How to fix cracked concrete on a budget

When it comes to the aesthetic appearance of your home often the smallest chip or crack can look unsightly and stand out a mile if the rest of your home is in a good state of repair. The trouble is that repairing concrete can be a difficult and problematic process. But it is possible to DIY it yourself.Of course, the restoration of historic buildings, commercial buildings or any major work on your home should be left to expert contractors of concrete repairs to get the job done – and avoid causing any irreparable damage. But, that being said, if you find a small amount of cracked concrete in your back garden patio or in an exterior wall – and you’re comfortable with DIY – then it IS possible to fix cracked concrete yourself. To top it all off, it can be done on a budget!

What you will need:

  • Cleaning equipment
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Tape measure
  • Injection ports
  • Crack sealer
  • Putty knife
  • LCR cartridge
  • Caulk gun

It’s easier than you might think to do this repair yourself and, with a little time spent planning, the results you can achieve are every bit as good as if had paid a professional – but at a fraction of the cost. Continue reading “Household DIY: How to fix cracked concrete on a budget” »


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How to reinvent a second-hand kitchen

Buying a kitchen second-hand may seem unheard of, but it can be a great way to update your home on a budget. So many people think that their only option is a basic store-bought kitchen, but there are alternatives out there – purchasing a designer kitchen second-hand is the future. You can get great quality at a fraction of the original custom-made price. However, when a kitchen has been designed for a different home, how do you personalise it to suit yours? Here are some tips:Paint is Your Best Friend

When you buy a second-hand kitchen, paint becomes your best friend. You can use it to transform the entire room, from the cabinets to the walls. You will be surprised how much painting your cabinets can lift the entire room, making it brighter and much more pleasant.

Change Up the Cabinets

With cabinets making up such an important part of the kitchen, changing them can have a big impact on the design. You could paint them, as we mentioned above, or replace the doors with glass. If you’re feeling brave (and you keep your cupboards tidy!) you could take the doors off completely. Is that too much commitment? Just replace the handles – chrome handles instantly update a kitchen, or you could find quirky vintage ones.Replace the Worktops

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Household DIY – How to install laminate flooring

I’ve recently laid laminate flooring in two rooms of my home and I can honestly say that it was a really easy process. I thought it would take days to install but we were finished within a couple of hours. As long as you have the right equipment – a saw, knee pads and a laminate flooring installation kit (including packers) you can easily lay this type of flooring yourself. Here’s how to do it, step-by-step:Clear away any existing carpet, tiles or pieces of old underlay. Give the room a sweep to make sure you’ve cleared all the debris from the surface, and vacuum the floor to pick up the smaller pieces of dust. If you’re laying the laminate onto a concrete floor you’ll need to start with a damp-proof membrane before adding a layer of underlay.If you’re starting with a wooden floor, you can go straight to laying the underlay. There are plenty of options for underlay out there; foil-coated sheets that insulate the floor, rolls of foam to cushion the laminate or fibre boards – which is the option I went for.This simply evens out the floor so that the laminate flooring will look perfectly flat when fitted. It also adds an extra layer of insulation and, if you’re using it on an upstairs room, it can add a little sound-proofing so you don’t feel like you’re walking about inside a drum, and causing a lot of noise in the rooms below!

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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.

Continue reading “6 Crafty ways to preserve your family’s most precious memories” »


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My upcycled picture frame breakfast tray project is in Reloved Magazine!

I’m delighted to share with you some pics of my latest project in Reloved magazine. This month I made a breakfast-in-bed tray as a romantic treat for Valentine’s Day. What do you think??I upcycled an old picture frame and turned it into a breakfast tray by removing the glass, and decoupaging old book pages (a falling-apart copy of Jane Eyre and a Marilyn Monroe biography, if you’re interested!) onto the back-board. It’s a similar effect to the book-page feature wall I created in my bedroom – if you missed that blog post you can check it out here.I added a couple of decorative handles (taken off some old drawers that used to be in my mum’s kitchen!) and gave the whole tray a protective coat of sealing varnish.

The full step-by-step guide to making the picture frame tray for yourself can be found in Issue 39 of Reloved magazine, and if you’re quick you can still pick it up in the shops this week. The next issue comes out on 23rd Feb, so you’ve not got long to grab a copy!Here’s some photos of the magazine itself – I’m always SO thrilled to be featured in print and see my projects shared with so many thrifty readers. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing my name on the page as ‘the designer’ – eeee!

My one-cup teapot set is from The Caravan Trail – lovely bright colours for Spring!

The next of Reloved (Issue 40) is out this week and contains lots of lovely Spring and Easter-themed upcycling projects so be sure to check that out too!


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Household DIY – How to strip woodchip wallpaper, the easy way!

Stripping wallpaper is a skill I’ve recently developed. Woodchip wallpaper in particular. It’s a difficult paper to shift and, unfortunately, it seems to be plastered all over ‘houses of a certain age’. I guess it was very fashionable at one point but nowadays it’s the number 1 thing that puts potential buyers off a house. And it’s bloomin’ hard to remove. Yes, I speak from experience here! Thankfully there are ways to make the process a little easier and here’s the steps I followed:1. Scoring the paper

Use the corner of a wallpaper scraper to score the wallpaper all over. Don’t press too hard, otherwise you’ll leave marks in the plaster. You can also use the flat edge of the wallpaper scraper to ‘skim’ over the woodchip surface. This knocks off some of the woodchip and allows more moisture to soak in.2. Soaking with wallpaper stripper

Sure you can use regular water to soak the surface of the wallpaper, but adding a splash of wallpaper stripper to your bucket ‘super-charges’ the water. I used a bottle of Everbuild wallpaper stripper and only needed 125ml in a gallon of water. That was plenty enough to soak all the walls of the living room. This means that I’ve got three quarters of the bottle left to do other rooms. Mix it into a bucket of water (following the instructions on the bottle) and use a large sponge to spread the foamy water over the wallpaper. Allow to soak in for 15 minutes – coincidentally the same length of time that it’ll take heat up your steamer.3. Steam the wallpaper

Fill the steamer with water and allow to heat up for 15 minutes. You don’t need an industrial or expensive steamer to do this job – the tool I’m using is the lowest priced steam I could find from FFX – the Earlex Steam Wallpaper Stripper. It gives me 70 minutes of steaming per fill, which is about the length of time it took to strip each wall. Hold the steamer to the wall and leave in place for about ten seconds. Move it onto the next section of the wall and hold in place while you scrap the first piece away.

4. Scrape away the woodchip layer

Use the flat edge of a stripping knife to scrape away the top layer of woodchip. You’ll get a speckled effect on the wallpaper as the bigger chunks of woodchip come off. This allows more steam to get into the wallpaper and make it easier to strip away from the wall. Give the wallpaper a second steaming before moving onto the stripping…

5. Strip off the woodchip

Push the wallpaper stripper tool beneath the wallpaper and lift it away from the wall. If you come across a stubborn piece of wallpaper, give it another blast with the steamer before scraping. I used a Stanley Hobby Stripping Knife to ease the woodchip off the wall.

From this (woodchip walls that look perfectly normal at a distance)

To this (a room that now looks like it should be on Homes Under The Hammer!)

And really, that’s all there is to it! Sort of the same as stripping normal wallpaper, but with a couple of important extra steps – the stripping solution and the scraping effect. I’ve made a quick video (shared below and on my new YouTube channel) to show you the whole process, step-by-step so that you can see exactly how we did it.

If you’ve found this helpful please ‘like’ my video or follow my new Cassiefairy channel on YouTube for more DIY projects and thrifty solutions.


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My “Take 10” interview in Reloved magazine

Hi all, how has your week been?  Today I thought I’d quickly shared my ‘Take 10’ interview about upcycling and thriftiness from Reloved magazine in case you didn’t get a chance to pick up a copy of Issue 38 last month. My project on restoring leather was also in the January issue, with the aim of bringing old furniture back to ‘good-as-new’ in the New Year. If you want to have a read of the step-by-step guide I’ve shared it on my blog so you can check out the photos and instructions for the leather restoration project herereloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-1reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-2The good news is that I’ve got another project being published in the magazine soon so keep an eye out for Issue 39 of Reloved in the newsagents and online this week. Here’s the “Take 10” page in full so you can read my answers to the interview questions – SO excited to be featured!reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-4-2 reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-5

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