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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How to turn your photo into a giant feature wall mural

Have you ever taken a photo and thought to yourself, ”I wish I could print this out lifesize”? That’s exactly what I thought when my husband took an amazing shot of the sea last week. Well, I suppose my thought does have something to do with the fact that I’m currently decorating my bedroom and I’d been looking for some wallpaper for the feature wall.Having failed to find any wallpaper patterns or prints that I liked enough (that wouldn’t spoil the tranquil feeling of my all-white room) I was starting to think that our feature wall might just get a coat of white paint and be left bare.But when I was flicking through my photographer husband’s snaps from our Valentine’s Day walk on the beach, I came across dozens of images that would be ideal for a feature wall. Okay, I’d used a poster to cover my small bathroom wall with a seascape photo in the past, but how on earth can I possibly print out a photo that’s 2.8 x 2.5 metres in size? Continue reading “How to turn your photo into a giant feature wall mural” »


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Tuesday Shoesday – My week in #FloorSelfies

When I first heard about the #FloorSelfie challenge, I found myself getting a little excited. Not only do I love a good photo challenge, but I also love shoes, and taking photos of my feet for a week sounded like great fun. No need for any special equipment to get involved with this challenge; I simply charged up my phone and snapped a photo whenever the thought entered my mind. By the end of the week I’m pretty sure that I’d started to search out more interesting floors with fun colours or patterns, or maybe it was simply the fact that I was noticing the floor more often . How often do we look down, really? We’re missing interesting designs and even art by keeping our heads up. Anyway, enough rambling – here are my favourite shoe photos from the week and little bit about the location to go with them:

Excuse the pun but I ‘kick started’ my week of #FloorSelfies with a day out at the seaside. And we enjoyed ourselves so much that we actually went back to the coast the day after too. I snapped some photos on the beach and almost soaked my toes by trying to get the Tuesday Shoesday snap above when the tide came in. The traditional walk along the promenade followed, with me dribbling over beach huts that I could never afford, followed by a big hot chocolate to warm up. The second day we went to Southwold Pier and had fun playing air hockey and winning 2ps in the arcade. Something I hadn’t noticed before was that the pier has footprints painted on the deck all along the length of the pier. Don’t follow them though – some of the footprints head right off the side of the pier! I found a set of flipper footprints and snapped this fun #FloorSelfie.

One of the most exciting thing to happen to me this week was something that I couldn’t really photograph. My husband had been picked in a ballot to go to a recording of a TV special in Elstree Studios. With the performance being ‘top secret’ and absolutely no cameras allowed, it was hard for me to get a photo but I wanted to record the day out nonetheless. Here’s the fabulous wooden floor in the entrance to Elstree Studios and it’s the very same spot where I later met Tim Peake and Professor Brian Cox. Yes, I got a selfie with an astronaut! Best. Moment. Ever. And I managed to give Brian Cox a pair of ChattyFeet’s Prof. Brian Sox socks, which he found hilarious. Oh, you’ll notice a different pair of shoes in this shot – they are my favourite Hush Puppy flats the rub a little on the heel so aren’t great for wearing all day long. The following day we took a walk in the countryside and noticed just how autumnal everything is – leaves are turning brown and conkers are falling. Must remember to go blackberry picking this week before it’s too late.

Continue reading “Tuesday Shoesday – My week in #FloorSelfies” »


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My summer so far…

It’s only half way through the school holidays and I’ve already been having a wonderful summer break. I’ve been on a few day trips, I’ve visited a handful of places and got a few of my “to-do’s” done. If you’re wondering what I’ve been up to, here’s the goss…summer holiday sunset beach huts seaside-2I went to the seaside. During the very first weekend of the summer holidays I organised to go away from Friday – Monday. It isn’t a long drive from here to the Essex coast, but it was a very hot one! We arrived for our yearly family holiday at around 9am and headed straight to the beach hut. We pretty much spent the rest of the day on the beach, throwing a giant frisbee that I’d bought ‘for the kids’ and tucking into traditional fish ‘n’ chips. The heat dictated plenty of trips to the swimming pool and lots of breezy walks along the promenade to cool off. We enjoyed a game of bowling on Saturday evening, and the bowl ‘n’ burger deal on the pier is always a winner – the burgers are huge! Sunday was a chilled out beach day and on Monday we visited the nearest ‘big’ town for more arcade fun and a trip to the Sealife Centre. A wonderful weekend.

I visited a museum. Ipswich Transport Museum to be precise. I’d never been before, despite growing up in Suffolk from the age of ten. It was a real surprise to find so many interesting exhibits in an unassuming old bus hangar. I’ll share more photos in a ‘proper’ blog post about the museum soon and give you my tips for visiting during the school hols. Another lovely day out with the family that didn’t cost a fortune, bonus!

Continue reading “My summer so far…” »


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Tips for a healthy summer holiday with the family

How are you enjoying the school summer holidays so far? We’ve already enjoyed a few days of sunshine and got stuck into our favourite outdoor activities, such as swimming, walking and going on bike rides. I think that the school holidays is a great time of year for the whole family to make a change towards living a more healthy lifestyle. It’s easier to feel motivated to get outside and be active while the weather is lovely. It’s also a good opportunity to introduce the kids to the idea of eating more healthily too, with plenty of salads, pasta and couscous on the menu during BBQ season!homemade summer coleslaw panasonic food processor bbq dish-18

Check out my healthy coleslaw recipe on the blog – no mayo in this dish!

With that in mind, I wanted to share something with all you mums and dads out there, to help you with some fun ideas for the school holidays that will also help your family to live a more healthy life. As part of National Childhood Obesity Week, which rans from 4th July 2016, NRS Healthcare launched a digital Healthy Living Family Pack to help families with children who may be experiencing issues with overeating, inactivity or poor nutrition and it contains useful ideas on how families can pull together to become more active in their daily lives.day out wild flower walk spring-2

A wildflower hunt is a free activity that gets the kids moving – read about my recent countryside walk here

What does the Healthy Living Family Pack include?

The digital Family Pack is available to download for free from the NRS website and the pack contains useful information and ideas for parents, coupled with an interactive star chart for children to track their activities in a fun, informal way. Families can learn more about childhood obesity and how to actively approach the subject through the pack contents, which include:

  • Family Activity Cards
  • A Family Day Out Wish List
  • Daily Chores Calorie Counter (for parents)
  • A Chore Chooser Star Chart (for children)blue suede shoes - his n hers brogues_-4

Find ideas for low-cost and fun days out for the school holiday on my blog – here

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4 Low-cost + fun days out for the school holidays

We’re mid-way through the summer term and that means one thing – a sunny half term break with nothing to do! This is one of my favourite holidays of the school year, because it’s warm enough to get outside and enjoy last days of Spring, yet it’s not the over-priced days of the summer holidays when you’re likely to burn to a crisp if you venture out into the midday sun. I’ve shared a few ideas for fun days out on my blog this year so here’s my round-up of things to do during the half term holiday.Suffolk coastal travel guide southwold pier attraction-17Suffolk coastal travel guide southwold pier attraction-91. Go to the coast and enjoy some cheesy fun at the great British seaside. Eat ice-cream while sitting in a deck chair, feed 2ps into arcade machines and enjoy fish ‘n’ chips on the pier. Read my review of Southwold Pier and check out my ideas for a day out with the kids at Blackpool too.schol holiday ideas for half term summer 2015 blackpool travel tripsouthwold pier attraction suffolk seaside travel guide-162. Stay indoors on rainy days at a museum. Check out photos of my recent visit to the National Railway Museum in York and my tips for surviving a visit to the museum during the school holidays! If you’re planning to visit a museum during the holidays I’d recommend checking the website before setting off as they often plan special workshops for children during the school holidays and it can be a free way to get your kids interested in the exhibition. I visited the new ‘Shaping The Body’ exhibit at York Castle Museum and blogged about it at Easter. It’s a really fun exhibition (I loved the Victorian Street!) and they even having a dressing-up area for children.national railway museum york half term school holiday trip ideas and tips-6 york castle museum shaping the body exhibition exhibit school holidays day out trip

Continue reading “4 Low-cost + fun days out for the school holidays” »


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What’s your dream honeymoon?

After attending a wedding fair this weekend with my bride-to-be bestie, I started thinking about honeymoon destinations. We were browsing the wedding fair stalls when we came across a stand covered in photos of dream honeymoon locations and it got me thinking about where I’d like to go, if I could choose anywhere in the world. My husband and I never really had a proper honeymoon when we got married all those years ago – in fact, I’ve only been out of the country a handful of times – so I’d think that now we be an excellent time to start saving for that dream holiday; our first proper ‘honeymoon’.Bali from Indonesia Travel website

Image from the Indonesia.Travel website

Back when we got married, we had a mini-moon; just a couple of days away in Paris. The day after the wedding we tidied up, on the second day we went to a Fab Beatles gig not far from home, and on the third day we hopped on the Eurostar. We spent two nights in a non-air-conditioned room during the hottest summer Paris had seen for a generation. Checking out the sights, going up the Eiffel Tower and eating lots of croissants was lovely but it was over all too soon. We said at the time that we’d have a long, luxurious honeymoon ‘one day’ but after nearly 13 years that ‘one day’ hasn’t yet arrived!bali-cities-map

Map from the Bali Tourism Board

So now that I’m sat in front of my computer with time on my hands, I’ve started browsing online for that dream honeymoon destination. Where would you recommend? Continue reading “What’s your dream honeymoon?” »


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My mini kitchen makeover – DIY peg bag sewing project + carrier bag dispenser

I’ve been working on turning my tiny kitchen into a more habitable room for a couple of months now and if you’ve been following my progress you’ll know just how miniature my kitchen actually is! Firstly, I chose a bright colour scheme inspired by the Great British seaside and, in particular, my visit to Southwold Pier. After painting the room a refreshing coastal duck-egg blue, I enlisted my husband’s help to hang a new blind and put up  some extra storage solutions including a retro display unit and a bathroom cabinet. After adding a bright new rug and trying out some magnetic chalkboard paint on the walls, the mini kitchen makeover was almost complete. So today I’m sharing the kitchen sewing projects that I’ve just finished; a peg bag made from a small coat hanger, and a carrier bag dispenser.diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-21diy-interior-design-small-kitchen-makeover-accessories-seaside-colours-3 When I got my small custom-made roman blind from Blinds-Supermarket.co.uk, I also picked up a length of matching Clarke and Clarke fabric in the same sugar stripe pattern. I knew that I wanted to create some sewing projects for the kitchen so it made sense to track down the same fabric to create a coordinated look throughout the room. It’s important not to use too many patterns in a small space as it can easily become over-busy so sticking to just the one type fabric makes the room feel less cluttered and more ‘pulled together’.diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holderdiy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-12The most essential project for me was a peg bag. I’ve actually been storing my pegs in an oven glove for the past 3 years and it’s not been ideal, to say the least! It was such a simple project to do, so I really don’t know why I hadn’t already made one, but at least I’ve made one now. I used the striped fabric, plain white sheeting, white thread and a coat hanger to create the peg bag and here’s how I did it:diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-21. Place a small hanger (a child’s hanger works best, although I’ve used a hanger that came with some swimwear for my project) on back of the fabric at approximately the height that you’d like the bag to be. Draw around the top of the hanger to get the right slope of the top edge and then cut out two of these ‘house’ shapes from the fabric.diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-32. Fold the fabric down by 1cm across the top of the ‘point’ at the top of each piece and hem. Cut one of the pieces in half – this will be the front piece and will provide the opening to store the pegs in. Hem both of the cut edges with a straight stitch to neaten.diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-4diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-53. If you’d like to include the word ‘pegs’ on the front of your peg bag, simply cut the letters out of white fabric and stitch onto the top section of the front of the bag before joining the bag together.diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-6diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-74. Line up the top edges with right sides of the fabric together and sew around the top, leaving the hemmed opening at the point. Next, place the hemmed bottom piece up against the top piece and match the pattern if you can. Pin and sew around all three sides at the bottom of the bag.diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-8diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-95. At this point I used a zig-zag stitch around all the edges to prevent fraying. Then turn the bag right side out and slip in the coat hanger. The hang is ideal for hanging the peg bag in your kitchen or utility room and for hanging on the washing line while you’re hanging out clothes.diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-10 diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-11diy kitchen sewing projects peg bag and bag holder-21 Continue reading “My mini kitchen makeover – DIY peg bag sewing project + carrier bag dispenser” »


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My mini kitchen makeover – Paint colours & fabric patterns

The summer holidays have arrived! And with them come the opportunity to spend some time at home and get started on a couple of decorating projects that I’ve been bursting to do. You may remember that I shared some inspirational images for my ideal kitchen a couple of weeks ago and I’m now planning to put those ideas into practice. I’m calling it a ‘mini makeover’ for two reasons; firstly, my budget is tiny and I want to get the best result for the minimum outlay, and secondly, my kitchen is also tiny – I’ve actually never lived in a home with such a small kitchen before and I really need to make the best use of the space available. So this interior design project is really going to be a challenge!clarke and clarke candy striped fabric_The thing that I’ve had the most trouble deciding on is the colour of the walls. We’ve had patches of paint samples on the wall for more than a year and I couldn’t decide on a colour until I found a lovely duck-egg blue in Homebase. It’s bright enough that it doesn’t make the room feel any smaller but it’s a little more exciting than just using a neutral white or magnolia to make the space bigger.southwold pier attraction suffolk travel guide-4I really think I’ve made the right decision with the paint colour, and here’s why; Continue reading “My mini kitchen makeover – Paint colours & fabric patterns” »


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Map geek – My guide to Southwold Pier

This week I took a trip to the Suffolk coast to enjoy a day of traditional seaside fun and, more importantly, to hunt out Southwold Pier. This hidden gem is a classic seaside attraction and I really can’t think of anywhere better to spend the day when the weather is as glorious as it has been over the past week. In fact, the pier itself is like a little micro-climate with the sea breezes keeping us cool on the hottest day of the year so it’s ideal for a summer trip. southwold pier attraction suffolk travel guide-4 Suffolk coastal travel guide southwold pier attraction-21 southwold pier attraction suffolk travel guide-5 southwold pier attraction suffolk travel guide-18southwold pier attraction suffolk travel guide-11Let’s start off by saying that I really, really like a good attraction map. I actually enjoy being handed a visitor’s guide when I arrive at a theme park, event, museum or visitor attraction. They are usually hand-drawn and often feature cute little comic characters and in-jokes that make me giggle.  I picked up the map of Southwold pier at a tourist information centre and immediately knew that I would enjoy visiting the attraction – it looked like lots of fun, with traditional penny arcades, tearooms and even a micro bandstand!

Continue reading “Map geek – My guide to Southwold Pier” »


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Oh, I do like to be beside the seaside – A thrifty beach hut bathroom makeover

Over the past few months I’ve shared a few blog posts about my bathroom makeover and today I wanted to show you the ‘finished’ room. Okay, okay, I’m pretty sure that it’ll never truly be ‘finished’ as I’ve been adding it to whenever I find a new nautical accessory at the car boot sale… but at least the construction is finally finished and I thought that it was about time that I showed you some photos.

The inspiration behind the room was a beach hut we rented last summer. It was right on the promenade and I loved the feeling of looking straight out to sea while being cosy inside a white-washed room. I wanted to get one of our holiday photos printed up to fill the whole wall to create a trompe l’oeil style seascape photowall. We pasted up a fly-poster print created by StressFreePrint using wallpaper paste before painting with a coat of yacht varnish to make it waterproof.diy beach hut bathroom makeover project - low budget renovation-10 diy beach hut bathroom makeover project - low budget renovation-16When my husband and I found some waste pressure-treated wood in a skip we jumped at the chance to install a new floor in our dated, old bathroom and spent hours scraping off the concrete residue to reveal textured planks. This wood was the ideal flooring as the pressure-treated timber shouldn’t rot, no matter how damp it gets; it’s guaranteed to last 25 years in a garden so I think it’ll be okay in the bathroom!  The width of the planks was very similar to that of a beach hut floor so I sanded down the wood to make it smooth and we used grab adhesive to ‘glue’ the planks to the bathroom floor.

With plenty of wood left over, my husband drew up a plan for a built-in storage wall which would hide the exposed pipework and provide much-needed shelving. Thankfully, there were just enough offcuts from this project to line the walls around the bath (the tiles pinged off while we were changing the bath!) and to create a new bath panel, we just needed to buy some basic wood batons to construct the frame for each of these projects.

We kept the sink and toilet because they were clean and perfectly usable, and the  ugly old cistern is now neatly hidden away behind the storage wall. A couple of new taps took literally 5 minutes to fit and gave the old sink a facelift without the need for a new basin or plumbing. The old enamel bath was chipped and rusty so we decided to replace it with a new low-cost acrylic bath from Bella Bathrooms which is slightly narrower than the old one, so it fills up with water more quickly and uses less water to get a good depth of bath water.diy beach hut bathroom makeover project - low budget renovation-12 diy beach hut bathroom makeover project - low budget renovation-17We decided to whitewash all the wood to finish off the room so bought a £6 pot of basic emulsion paint which we watered down to create a faded shade that still allows the wood-grain to show through. I also used sandpaper to distress some of the edges of the wood to create an aged effect. There was a lot of deliberation about whether we should paint the floor but I’m so pleased that we went for it in the end, the whole room looks just like that beach hut we stayed in last year!

Other than the bath and taps, we’d only spent a little money on adhesive, silicone and screws at the DIY store, and after this thrifty, upcycling start, I wanted to be sure that any new accessories were equally purse-friendly with good eco-credentials. I picked up a small beach-hut cabinet from the carboot sale and my hubby found some industrial bits and bobs, including a torch light that reminds me of a light house. His favourite find was the old brass pressure gauge which he attached to the shelf above the toilet as a cheeky joke and this always makes me smile. I wish I could work out a way to get the gauge to rise when the loo is flushed, that would be hilarious! diy beach hut bathroom makeover project - low budget renovation-2We needed a new toilet seat so we chose one from the John Lewis clearance sale (check here for current sales at John Lewis) with excellent eco credentials: it’s made from rubberwood, which is a by-product of the latex industry. So rather than any of the tree going to waste, the wood has been used to create our toilet seat! When it came to choosing a bath bridge I wanted an equally earth-friendly product and the one we chose is made from bamboo. Known to be a fast-growing, rapidly replenishing material, bamboo has great eco-credentials and is both lightweight and strong, so it’s an excellent alternative to wood and fits in perfectly with the beach-inspired design.

In terms of sewing, I spent a few hours putting together a roman blind using lighthouse fabric and I used the off-cuts to create a binding trim for the edges of my old sand-coloured towels. We picked up a couple of nearly-new striped towels from the charity shop and gave them a good hot wash to fluff them up and now they really finish off the coastal theme.

My tips for renovating a bathroom on a budget:

  • Reuse your existing bathroom suite if possible – just give it a good scrub and replace worn-out fittings.
  • Save materials from landfill by asking friends, family and neighbours if they have any wood or DIY items going spare – they may have half-full tins of paint, packets of screws and leftover wood that you could make use of in your project.
  • Choose eco-friendly, replenishing materials such as bamboo and rubberwood for new accessories.
  • Consider installing a shower or narrow bath to save energy and water each time you bathe.
  • Ask friends and family for help with DIY tasks – your granddad might have hidden plumbing skills and your pals might be able to knock up a shelf in no time.

Let me know what you think of my finished beach hut inspired bathroom by leaving me a comment below or tweeting me @Cassiefairy, I’d love to hear from you!

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