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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More than chocolate eggs – Easter gifts ideas + win £40 of jewellery!

With Easter fast approaching, my thoughts have turned to chocolate eggs and rabbit-shaped iced biscuits. I love making marshmallow ‘nests’ with my niece and nephew, and an Easter cheesecake is a must in our household. But this year, I thought I’d consider some Easter gifts that are more than just edible treats. I’d love to receive something that costs the same as a chocolate egg but that will last me all year instead so I’ve shared my ideas in this blog post. PLUS you could win £40 to spend on anything you like at JewelleryBox.co.uk. Considering that they’ve got a fantastic under £5 section, you should be able to stock up on a few beautiful things for yourself too!

image by Popcorn & Glitter

This year I’m saying ‘no thanks’ to the chocolate (okay, maybe a handful of mini-eggs, but that’s it…) and yes please to some alternative gifts. In particular, I quite fancy getting some new jewellery this year. It doesn’t have to be Easter-themed (although the selection of fun Easter bunny earrings start at £4.95) and I’d be happy with any of these cool stacker rings or ‘love’ bangles.


One of my favourite pieces on the site is this honeycomb design. It’s available as a necklace, bracelet or earrings in 9ct gold, sterling silver or rose gold. It feels really spring-like without being OTT on the rabbits and flowers. Although I’m not a huge wearer of jewellery, I do like to wear the occasional special piece and I love the rose gold pieces I discovered. At least know where I want my birthday present to come from anyway!

I’ve also been looking on Etsy for some non-food related gifts for the little ones (and us bigger crafty folk too!). This Easter bunny kit looks like great fun for a start. It contains everything you’d need to make an adorable little soft rabbit – wouldn’t that be fun to make over Easter? It’ll keep the kids entertained for a little while at least! I also LOVE this cross-stitch kit for older kids, aunts and grandmas alike. It’s a skill I wish I could do, and I’d love to give this colourful spring sewing project a go.

Or if you fancy baking an Easter gift for your friends and family, why not try out some of my recipes? Cupcakes, meringues and iced biscuits all make lovely presents when presented in lovely wrapping. You could make fresh blueberry and lemon muffins in cute paper cases to hand out to the little ones. My dark chocolate meringue cookies look lovely when packaged in greaseproof paper and tied with a pretty ribbon. At the very least, you could make a batch of these recipes to share as part of your Easter Sunday dinner.And now, on to the part you’ve been waiting for – the giveaway. I’ve chatted to the wonderful people at JewelleryBox.co.uk and they are delighted to provide a prize for Cassiefairy.com readers. One lucky winner will be given £40 credit to spend on ANY jewellery they like! The giveaway runs until the end of Easter Monday so you could win a lovely Easter gift for yourself. There are plenty of ways to enter via the Rafflecopter widget below so enter now- good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to UK residents only, competition runs from 7th April 2017 – 17th April 2017, winner will be chosen at random from all entries via Rafflecopter and contacted via email. The winner will need to provide a UK delivery address to receive their prize.


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Pieday Friday recipe – No bake chocolate cheesecake with raspberries

Happy Friday everyone, isn’t it a lovely Spring day out there today? Hope it’s just as nice where you are too! I’m in an especially good mood because I’m starting work on my kitchen renovation today. I can’t wait to get it looking fresh and clean – just imagine all the lovely recipes I’ll be able to make in there once the new worktop and oven is installed!Seeing as I can’t do much cooking myself at the moment I’ve decided to share a delicious recipe from Delicake today. After getting a Delicake dish earlier this month, I’ve been browsing their recipe website a lot and asked if it would be okay to share one of their fab desserts with you today.

Ingredients: 250g biscuits for the base, 75g butter to combine, 250g cream cheese, ½ cup caster sugar, 600ml thick cream, 200g white chocolate (or milk chocolate if you prefer), 1 punnet raspberries, 1 tablespoon gelatine, ¼ cup of hot water for the gelatine.

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Pieday Friday – Using herbs in juicing + mojito juice recipe

I think you can probably guess from my recipe posts this year that I’m getting into juicing. I’d love to say that it’s because I’ve decided to live a more healthy lifestyle and want to reinvigorate my body, but that’s not really the reason. It’s as simple as ‘I don’t like fruit’. Sure, berries and dried fruits are fine with me; I’ll pop a handful on my soaked oats in the morning and get a little dose of goodness that way. But ‘proper’ fruits, y’know, the ones you have to chew (apples, pears, pineapple, peaches, oranges, plums etc) I just don’t like. I think it’s the texture that puts me off. I don’t mind the flavour of these fruits but I don’t like to eat them. Actually, that’s a bit of a lie. If you cook them, I’m quite happy. Apple pie? Yum! Stewed plums and custard? Yes please! ANY fruits in a crumble? Mmmm! But that’s not a healthy way to eat fruit, is it? With added sugar and a dollop of ice cream on the side, you can see why I enjoy cooked fruits so much. So my solution to get some much-needed vitamins into my body is juicing.

I’m happy to guzzle down juice all day long, but who knows what goes into the cartons you buy in the supermarket? I’d rather see the whole fruit go into the juicer and lovely fresh juice come out so that I know what I’m drinking, and I know that it’s good for me. I’ve been inspired by the #ExperienceFresh campaign and want to eat more raw and organic foods as a result.

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Pieday Friday – The Hairy Bikers’ coffee cake for Red Nose Day

Today’s recipe post comes directly from The Hairy Bikers, who have shared this recipe in aid of Comic Relief. The fundraising spectacular takes place on 24th March this year so you’ve got plenty of time to perfect your sponge cake before the big event! Without further ado I’m handing over to Si and Dave  to share their recipe – enjoy!
A deliciously moist, old-fashioned coffee and walnut cake is one of our very favourite treats and we like to make it with Camp chicory and coffee essence. If you can’t track this down in your local stores, use very strong black coffee instead. Make sure the walnuts you use are nice and fresh.

SERVES 12 – 65g walnut halves, 225g softened butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing, 225g caster sugar, 4 medium eggs, 225g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 2 tbsp Camp chicory and coffee essence

Icing – 150g softened butter, cubed, 300g icing sugar, sifted, 4 tsp Camp chicory and coffee essence,12 walnut halves

Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas 5.

  1. Butter two 20cm loose-based sandwich tins and line the bases with discs of baking parchment. Put the walnut halves in a food processor and blitz them into fairly fine crumbs, but don’t worry if there are a few larger pieces remaining. Tip the walnuts into a bowl.
  2. Put the butter, sugar, eggs, flour, baking powder and coffee essence in a food processor and blend on the pulse setting until well combined and creamy. You may need to remove the lid once or twice and push the mixture down with a rubber spatula. Take care not to process for too long or you will end up with a heavy sponge.
  3. Add the blitzed walnuts to the batter and mix until just combined. If you don’t have a food processor, finely chop the nuts, tip all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl, then beat like hell!
  4. Spoon the mixture evenly into the greased and lined tins and smooth the surface. Bake on the same shelf in the centre of the oven for about 25 minutes or until the sponge is well risen and just beginning to shrink back from the sides of the tin.
  5. Remove the tins from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before running a knife around the edge of the cakes and turning them out onto a wire rack. Peel off the baking parchment and leave to cool completely.

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Pieday Friday – Creamy corn soup recipe

I have to admit – this week’s Pieday Friday recipe isn’t my own. My friend Sophie, who has her own blog La Vie Sophie, shared this recipe back in 2015. It seemed almost too simple, but when I tried making it for myself I was amazed at just how easy it was to make a creamy corn soup that tasted great and contained no dairy at all. I’ve been making it ever since and now I just can’t keep it to myself anymore. So how did Sophie get the creaminess into the soup without adding dairy? It’s all down the three (yes, just three) ingredients in this recipe… Sweetcorn, stock and spaghetti. It’s the pasta that gives it the creaminess, that’s all there is to it. It’s healthy and tasty, and can be made with just a few ingredients that you probably already have at home. And if you pick up a pack of 25p spaghetti and a 40p tin of sweetcorn from the supermarket, this is a pretty low-cost lunch too! Of course, you could use fresh sweetcorn too – and you can experiment with veggie or chicken stock to vary the recipe a little – just give it a try and see what you prefer. If you’d like to make this meal for yourself here’s the link to the creamy corn soup recipe on Sophie’s blog, which gives you all the measurements, method and timings. And here are my pics of the process when I made this soup for lunch on Wednesday this week.

Sophie’s recipe calls for half of the soup to be blended and half to be left as it is. This gives you little noodles in the soup and less thick texture. But I’ve tried blending the whole pan of soup in the past and I really liked how creamy it turned out – plus, it soaked into the bread I was dipping into my bowl perfectly! I’m using the MX-ZX1800 Panasonic blender to whizz up my soup and it takes only seconds to blitz the whole batch of soup.

I used the pulse setting to start with, so that the sweetcorn and pasta would start to break down easily. When it started to look creamy, I turned up the blending function to whizz it into a really super-smooth texture. The thing is that I’m not actually much of a fan of tinned sweetcorn (love it fresh on the cob though!) so I like to make sure that all the sweetcorn kernels are completely blended before eating.

This blender can take hot or cold foods but some others can’t have hot liquids in them, so be sure to check and you might need to cook this in advance and let it cool down before you can blend it. Thankfully, the Panasonic blender is fine with hot liquids so I could cook, blend and dish up my lunch in a matter of minutes. When you’re as hungry as I am, speed is a bonus! Just a touch of salt and pepper is all that’s needed to finished off this dish – although I’ve found that a sprinkling of my favourite smoked paprika is a delicious addition too!

What do you think of Sophie’s recipe? Have you made any soups with pasta before? I hope you’ll have a look around Sophies blog and have a read of her fantastic posts and recipes. And I hope you enjoy your healthy yet creamy corn soup lunch!


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Pieday Friday – 3 healthy juice recipes

It’s all about the juicing this year. Or at least it is in my household because we’ve got a new juicer! As someone who has never tried combinations of juice before (seriously, orange juice is as adventurous as it got!) I’ve been really intrigued to start reading up on juicing and looking into recipes. There are SO many options out there; savoury juices, fruity juices, herby juices and even spicy juices. I wanted to make a healthy swap for my sometimes not-too-healthy shakes and smoothies, so I gave juicing a go for the very first time.I’ve read plenty of recipes where one or two of the ingredients were things that I’m not too keen on (like mango or parsley) so I decided to come up with my own combinations to test out my new juicer and to see whether or not I was going to enjoy fresh juice at all! Today’s Pieday Friday recipe post is the result of my experiments earlier this week and, if you’re a keen juicer yourself, I’m pretty sure that you’re going to like them.  The juicer I’m using is the Phillips Avance Collection Centrifugal Juicer, which is a pretty darn effective piece of equipment. When I started using it for the first time, I was rather surprised by how fast and easily it juiced the fruit and veg that I was putting through it. Sure, I guessed that soft grapes and pears would be easy to juice but who knew that so much moisture could come out of a carrot? Seriously, my carrots were pretty dry when they went in, but boy did they make a lot of juice! And, come to think of it, the pulp that came out was really dry too. I guess the machine got every drop out of the bunch.

So, here are the ingredients for each of the three juices I made last week. I went for a crowd-pleasing fresh fruity drink (the purple one), an exotic juice with tropical flavours (the yellow one) and a nutritious spicy savoury juice (the orange one – yes, the one with the carrots in). Of course, the instructions for each recipe is pretty-much “juice the ingredients” so I won’t bore you with that! Just know that it’s a good idea to remove rinds and skins from fruits like the pineapple, papaya, oranges and kiwi fruits.

One of my experiments that ended in disaster was juicing kiwis with their skins on. I read online that it was fine to eat the skins and while it may be possible to eat the skins, it’s not the nicest texture. So if you don’t want to drink a furry juice, I’d recommend taking off the skins before juicing!

Juice 1 – Cooked beetroot, apples, pears, white grapes.

Juice 2 – Pineapple, papaya, kiwi, oranges

Juice 3 – Carrots, celery, tomatoes, chilli

These juices make a pretty looking bunch, don’t they? I really enjoyed the purple beetroot-based juice and could drink that all day long. And the ‘bloody mary’ style veg juice was delicious too, in a savoury kind of way. I had a bit leftover that I heated up at lunchtime to try it as a soup. If you’re a fan of thin soups, this might be one for you. Tropical flavours aren’t really my thing, by my husband liked the exotic juice, so everyone’s happy with our new juicer!  Do you already make your own juice or will you be starting as part of a healthy habit swap this January? I know I’ll be trying to keep it up during the year so let me know your ideas for recipes or fruit ‘n’ veg combinations by leaving me a comment below or by tweeting me @Cassiefairy.


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Pieday Friday – How to make crisps in the microwave + tasty flavour combinations

Oh my goodness, it’s Christmas next weekend. How did that happen? I feel like I’m not entirely ready for it yet so want to get a move on with planning my recipes for the festive period. I shared a round-up of my previous Christmassy recipes last week (including 2 types of gingerbread, coffee shop hacks and some Christmas cake ideas) but my favourite part of Christmas cooking is preparing snacks. I love to have hot crunchy savoury treats in the oven throughout the holidays (and mince pies too, of course) just in case a guest arrives. Surely, there’s nothing better than being welcomed into a home with a big plate of nibbles and treats, is there??pieday-friday-diy-low-fat-healthy-microwave-crisps-recipe-parmesan-paprika-salt-pepper-12I’ve made star tarts, pastry rolls, pizza twists and leftover pasties in the past but never have I attempted to make my own crisps. While I loooove crunchy crisps, I do worry about how healthy (or not!) they are, and I know that I’ll be tempted over Christmas. So when I began craving fried snacks I started to do some research into healthier ways to make my favourite treat. Let’s face it, I’m going to want to eat them all month long, and will definitely be dishing out bowls of crisps on New Years Eve too!pieday-friday-diy-low-fat-healthy-microwave-crisps-recipe-parmesan-paprika-salt-pepper-18It turns out that it IS possible to make crisps without a deep fryer, and all you need is a microwave. Considering that I got a new Panasonic steam combination microwave about three months ago, I was feeling very confident that I’d be able to pull off making my own crisps. It’s got a great range of power settings so knew I’d be able to adjust the power accordingly to get that perfect crunch. Well, noone wants a soggy crisp, do they? Here’s how I got on and the recipe for (wait for it…) parmesan and smoked paprika potato chips.pieday-friday-diy-low-fat-healthy-microwave-crisps-recipe-parmesan-paprika-salt-pepper-16Ingredients: Potatoes (1 ‘jacket’ sized potato will make a small bowlful of crisps), olive oil (or you could use Fry Light for an even healthier version), salt and pepper, dried parmesan and smoked paprika.pieday-friday-diy-low-fat-healthy-microwave-crisps-recipe-parmesan-paprika-salt-pepper-1

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Pieday Friday – 12 days of Christmas recipe round-up

I thought I’d share round-up of my favourite festive recipes this Pieday Friday. The idea was to get you in the mood for all the Christmas baking to come but, in fact, I’ve actually started craving most of these recipes now, so I’m sure I’ll be whipping up some tasty this weekend! Below you’ll find links to my top twelve “12 days of Christmas” recipe blog posts, starting with these snowy dark chocolate cookies and cream-filled snowball meringues – enjoy!pieday friday baking recipe microwave meringues chocolate cookies-13 Recipe for snowball meringues Christmas pudding dessert-18It wouldn’t be Christmas without gingerbread. Last year I made a gingerbread sleigh but the recipe can be used to make traditional gingerbread men or decorations to hang on your tree. You can find the classic gingerbread recipe in this blog post plus there’s a festive spiced banana muffin recipe in the gingerbread blog post too, bonus!baking-a-gingerbread-sleigh-using-cookie-cutters-1diy-halloween-cookie-recipe-chocolate-gingerbread-men-skeletons-treat-dessert-pudding-7Even though I first made this chocolate gingerbread recipe for halloween, it’s definitely going to be baked again in December. The chocolate makes a nice change to the traditional gingerbread biscuit recipe, and you could make a batch of both types for Christmas, mmm.

Cheesy Christmas Stars

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Pieday Friday recipe – Coffee shop Christmas menu hacks

You know that Christmas is approaching when the coffee shops start serving their Christmas drinks. The usual selection of coffee and tea suddenly flips over to the festive menu sometime in early November. One day you’re buying your usual latte and the next day there’s a turkey and cranberry toasty on the sandwich counter and gold stars are being sprinkled on top of every drink. Yes, the coffee shop Christmas drinks are here to stay (until January, at least) so I thought I’d see whether I could hack some of the famous recipes from Costa, Starbucks and Neros for you. In previous years I’ve blogged my favourite flavoured hot chocolate recipes for Christmas, but it’s all about the coffee this year. Here are three festive coffee recipes that you can enjoy at home that might help you to save a little extra cash over Christmas.

Gingerbread latte

All of the coffee chains create a gingerbread latte in some form or other at this time of year – even McDonalds have a spice cookie latte on the menu. Here’s what you’ll need to recreate it at home: Coffee (I used flavoured coffee capsules of Gourmesso for each drink in this blog post, saving a little extra money on the usual Nespresso capsule prices – see, always thinking thriftily!) hot milk, gingerbread syrup or a couple of cubes of crystallized ginger, gold star sprinkles (find them with the baking aisle in the supermarket with the hundreds-and-thousands), ground cinnamon and a mini gingerbread man. You could make your own, or skip this step like I did and buy a ready-made box of festive gingerbread biscuits from the supermarket.Image by Andy-Greenacre.co.ukBrew up a shot of coffee into a festive-jumper patterned mug (mine is from The Caravan Trail). Stir in a shot of gingerbread syrup. If you don’t have syrup, pour a little boiling water over the crystallized ginger to melt it a little before stirring it into the coffee. Top up the coffee with hot milk to create a creamy latte. If you have a milk frother to hand (my little whisk was £3 from the supermarket and it makes fantastic foam!) whisk up a thick milk foam to top the latte. Sprinkle on some gold stars and sit a little gingerbread man on top – I think it looks like rudolph is drinking my latte in this photo!

Honeycomb latte

A new festive coffee in our local coffee chain, we tried this drink for the first time last week. The main flavour of this drink is cinder toffee, so essentially a Crunchie bar will do the trick! Here’s what you’ll need: Coffee, caramel syrup, hot milk, whipped cream, a Crunchie or chocolate-coated cinder toffee nuggets.Image by Andy-Greenacre.co.ukBrew a shot of coffee into a latte glass and stir in a splash of caramel syrup. If you don’t have coffee syrup like this, you could use some toffee ice-cream syrup or even melt a chunk of Crunchie bar into the coffee. Fill the cup with hot milk before finishing with a swirl of whipped cream. Crush up the Crunchie bar or cinder toffee into small nuggets and sprinkle over the top.

Toffee nut latte

Sure, you can find tons of pumpkin spice latte recipes online (I could dedicate a whole pinterest board to it!) but this year the big American coffee chain has a festive nut toffee latte on the menu this year. Even though I’m not a fan of nuts, I know that many of you will love this recipe so who am I to skip it? To recreate this recipe at home you will need: Coffee, caramel syrup, hazelnut syrup, hot milk, whipped cream and peanut brittle. Hopefully this will give you a similar taste, although I can’t be sure as I’ve never tried the original coffee shop version.Image by Andy-Greenacre.co.uk

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Pieday Friday – Sweet Potato Pasta with Alfredo Sauce 

Today’s recipe is from the newly released book ‘Eat With Intention’ by Cassandra Bodzak. This is not just a recipe book,but it’s also a practical course in quieting your mind, fueling your body, loving yourself, and changing your life for the better. Alongside the recipes there’s reminders to take care of yourself, and little meditation suggestions for everyday calm. This sweet potato pasta dish is just one example of the healthy yet fulfilling recipes in the book, and it’s quickly becoming one of my go-to recipe books for dinner (and puddings too!). But don’t just take my word for it – you can win a copy of the book for yourself! Scroll down to enter the giveaway below.sweet-potato-pastaSometimes we get so fixed on an idea of something that we close ourselves off from the infinite amount of possibilities for how it could manifest in our lives. I encourage you to think about something you deeply desire right now and strip it down to its basic core, releasing all of its trappings. When we are clear about what we truly desire, we open the door to unexpected opportunities and keep our eyes open for them along the way. Expand your options and expect miracles. Talk about an unexpected way to get your cravings met! If you have been craving the warm, filling, creamy decadence of fettuccine Alfredo without the dairy and gluten, then this is the recipe for you.

Feeling It Meditation

Sit in easy pose with your hands over your heart, eyes closed, breathing in through your nose and out your mouth. Allow yourself to fill up from your heart radiating outward with the feelings of your desire fulfilled. Release any specific images that may come up and return to your heart and tune in to the feeling that is enveloping you around having what you truly desire. Sit in this feeling for the next 3 minutes. When time is up, take a deep breath in and silently say to yourself, “I release my attachment to what it looks like and I welcome in unexpected ways for it to manifest.” Exhale and relax.

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients: 15-ounce (425 g) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed,15-ounce (425 g) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, ½ cup (120 ml) unsweetened almond milk, 7 tablespoons (105 g) nutritional yeast, 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons (30 g) Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon (14 g) vegan butter, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) garlic powder, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) salt, plus extra to taste, ½ teaspoon ground turmeric, 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, 2 sweet potatoes, skinned and spiralized, Chopped walnuts, to garnish, Chopped parsley, to garnish

  1. To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a food processor and pulse until thick and creamy. Season with salt to taste.
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the sweet potato “noodles” for
    5 minutes, until softened. Add the sauce to the saucepan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until heated through. Garnish with the walnuts and parsley, and serve. (Alternatively, heat the sauce in a separate saucepan and ladle it over a plate of noodles.)

9781631062360Recipe and images extracted from Eat with Intention by Cassandra Bodzak, photography by Evi Abeler. Published by Race Point Publishing (£14.99). More information on the book can be found here.

And if you would like to win a copy of “Eat with Intention” please enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. There are plenty of ways you can earn entries into this giveaway, so best of luck!

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Giveaway open to UK residents only. Giveaway runs from 18th -30th November 2016. One winner will be chosen at random after this date and contacted via email.

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