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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Bedroom progress – a retro-style bed & snuggly new duvet

Today I wanted to update you on our bedroom decorating project and share a quick review of my new duvet. You may remember that I’ve been waiting for my bed to be delivered and it has finally arrived! I spent the weekend with a screwdriver in my hand, assembling my new bed. What do you think of it?

It’s a Hygena bed and we got it from Argos using a 20% discount code so I’m really chuffed that we could get such a well-designed retro-style bed at an absolutely bargain price. I chose the frame after selecting my new mattress from eve, because everyone knows that the mattress is what makes the bed, and not the other way around!I’d been sleeping on my eve mattress on the floor and it was already super-comfortable, but adding it to the frame created a whole new level of comfort. Just FYI, one of the main things that I enjoy about my eve mattress is that my husband can flip over in the night and I feel no movement whatsoever on my side of the bed. I don’t know what the science is behind this, but the memory foam keeps me perfectly still while he moves around. I’ve never had such a peaceful night’s sleep!Anyway, seeing as I was so happy with the mattress, eve seemed to be the natural choice when it came to buying a new duvet too. My old duvet was a double size, so it didn’t fit our kingsize mattress and I wanted to feel super-cosy in my new bedroom. After committing a few years to my limp old duvet (how long are they supposed to last? Is it gross that I’ve used the same duvet for years?!) it was time to upgrade.

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A low-cost way to decorate your walls for autumn

Today’s blog is a quick and easy decor update that can make your home feel really autumnal in a matter of minutes. And you don’t need to spend loads of money on new soft furnishings, or hours crafting a garland, or days painting your walls to add a touch of autumn colour to your home. My idea for a speedy interiors update is adding art to your walls to completely change the feeling of your space in no time.posterlounge_autumn-2In particular, I’m talking about a more budget version of art – using posters. Sure you blu-tacked up posters to your bedroom walls in your teenage years but have you ever used them since? After browsing online and finding plenty of sensational artworks in bold autumn hues, I’ve become a fan of the humble poster. And they’re really great value for money too. How else can you update your home decor in such a striking way with a very little budget?posterlounge_autumn-4 Of course, you can frame up posters and elevate their status to true artwork, but you could also simply stick them up in your office with washitape and get the same effect. I really love the moon-phase design below, this would be the perfect addition to my bedroom to bring a touch of warmth into the room for autumn. And when the season is over, you can roll the posters up, pop them back in their delivery tube and switch over to a new fresh design for spring. Poster tubes take up hardly any space and your favourite design will be ready for you to re-hang again the following autumn. Sounds good, doesn’t it?posterlounge_autumn-5For autumn, I’ve been really drawn towards gold, copper and brass touches and have picked out the designs for this blog post as my suggestions for autumn 2016. I tend to lean towards a monochrome palette at all times of year, with bursts of colour to reflect the season. I love gold for autumn and I think it works well into winter too as we fill our homes with glittering gold decorations. And, of course, woodland scenes like this artwork below evoke a lovely autumnal feeling without feeling twee. posterlounge_autumn-3 Continue reading “A low-cost way to decorate your walls for autumn” »


Dream a little dream… of a cosy Christmas

Hello and happy Christmas eve! Just a quick blog post today because I have lots of gift wrapping and cooking to be getting on with but I wanted to show you a couple of snaps of my festive bedroom.

Mum treated us to this reindeer Christmas bedding (I think it was from B&M) and I really love the seasonal pattern. It’s inspired a whole festive theme for the room, including a small stag-print heart decoration that we bought at a village fair earlier this month and a candle in a similar design. I’ve hung my letter to Father Christmas on the bed and we even have our morning cuppas in matching reindeer mugs (another gift from mum!).

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Winter wonderland wedding inspiration

I’ve always loved the idea of a Christmas wedding. Although I got married in the summer, December would have been my second choice. I think that a festive wedding would be great fun to plan; choosing Christmas-themed decorations, using deep red and green colours, and even arriving in a sleigh pulled by reindeer!plant 0396

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Christmas DIY ~ Snowy Mantlepiece Garland

When my hamper of festive craft goodies from Country Baskets arrived last week for the Festive Face-Off craft challenge, I was completely stumped as to what I should make to decorate my home for Christmas. I had all kinds of ideas in my head for festive decorations but I had no clue what my mystery parcel would contain so when I unpacked the ‘ingredients’ I needed a little bit of head scratching time before I launched into my seasonal craft project.DIY christmas decoration mantlepiece garland ideas-11 Continue reading “Christmas DIY ~ Snowy Mantlepiece Garland” »


DIY glitter pumpkins for Halloween

Yes, I grew these pumpkins in my garden. Can you believe it? I’m still surprised myself! I want to use them to decorate my home for Halloween but I’m really rather poor at pumpkin carving so I thought about other ways that I could inject a little ‘Halloweeniness’ and I came up with this glitter pumpkin DIY.happy halloween DIY glitter pumpkins step by step tutorialI tried out a few methods of applying the glitter so that you don’t necessarily need to have to the same ‘ingredients’ as me to get a similar effect. I started with what I found to be the easiest method, which was using used a spray adhesive to spray the top of one of my pumpkins so that the glitter would stick, then I simply sprinkled on some very fine gold glitter (which I picked up from Hobbycraft) all over the top.

happy halloween DIY glitter pumpkins step by step tutorial-3 happy halloween DIY glitter pumpkins step by step tutorial-5

This gave a lovely even coverage and it looks like quite a glitzy glamorous pumpkin. I think this effect would be best for dinner party table decorations as it’s quite classy and simple, and you could also spray the adhesive all over the pumpkins for a complete coverage which would twinkle in the candlelight.

DIY glitter pumpkins for halloween - step by step tutorial-9 DIY glitter pumpkins for halloween - step by step tutorial-8

For a more traditional Halloween party pumpkin I’ve used PVA glue to paint the words ‘Happy Halloween’ on to the largest pumpkin. I first used a market pen to write the lettering and then I used a small paint brush to apply the PVA glue over the lettering. I then sprinkled all over the letters before the magic moment of blowing all the excess glitter off the pumpkin to reveal the greeting.

happy halloween DIY glitter pumpkins step by step tutorial-2 happy halloween DIY glitter pumpkins step by step tutorial-9 happy halloween DIY glitter pumpkins step by step tutorial-10 happy halloween DIY glitter pumpkins step by step tutorial-12DIY glitter pumpkins for halloween - step by step tutorial-10I also decided to decorate my last pumpkin with PVA glue and I simply squeezed the glue onto the top of the pumpkin and let it run down the sides for a ‘drippy’ effect. Actually, this was a very messy process so I’d recommend doing this on top of newspaper and when there are enough drips covering the sides of the pumpkin you can sprinkle on more glitter. Blow off the excess again and leave it to dry completely before moving it into position – I got a couple of glittery PVA drips on the sideboard , whoops!

happy halloween DIY glitter pumpkins step by step tutorial-6 happy halloween DIY glitter pumpkins step by step tutorial-7 happy halloween DIY glitter pumpkins step by step tutorial-8DIY glitter pumpkins for halloween - step by step tutorial-7These last two pumpkin designs could be completed using a glitter-glue pen or you could vary the design to use different colours of glitter or even different quotes such as ‘beware!’ or ‘be very afraid’ and so on. I arranged my pumpkins together with some oranges and a few candles which really made the glitter sparkle in the flickering light.

DIY glitter pumpkins for halloween - step by step tutorialDIY glitter pumpkins for halloween - step by step tutorial-6

What do you think of my DIY decorations? Will you have at go at making them for yourself? Any suggestions of how I could have made this a less-messy task?! Please leave me a comment below and I’d love to see your photos if you try it out for yourself!

DIY glitter pumpkins for halloween - step by step tutorial-11


Top 7 cocktails for a Christmas party with Social & Cocktail

Today I am lucky enough to share a special blog post all about mixing famous cocktails, which has been written for me by my lovely friends over at Social and Cocktail. I hope you enjoy their ideas for creating cocktail classics for your Christmas party – and no, it’s never too early to start thinking about Christmas!

With the popularity of cocktails exploding in recent years, they have now made their way into many Christmas parties across the country. Cocktails are a perfect option for any Christmas party, as they are fun, colourful plus there is a huge variety to cater for all tastes, be they sweet, sour, fruity, bitter or spicy.

If you are thinking of offering cocktails at your Christmas party, you can either mix up your own batch of cocktails (we advise you to trawl the web for cocktail recipes) or you can book a cocktail package from a variety of cocktail companies which have popped up over the last few years. Such companies will cater for all types of events, such as Office Christmas Parties Birthdays and Garden Parties. These companies will normally offer a mobile cocktail bar, bartender (trained in mixology), glassware, cocktail master classes and cocktail ingredients.

We have chosen fantastic 7 cocktails that we guarantee will be a hit at any Christmas Party.

1) Orange Chocolate Dream

Everybody remembers getting a Terry`s Chocolate Orange for Christmas, well, now you can have it in a glass…with alcohol.

The Ingredients: 45 ml White Chocolate Liqueur, 30 ml Bailey`s Irish Cream, 20 ml Orange Liqueur, 2 Teaspoons Cocoa Powder, 1 Teaspoon Bar Sugar, 1 Orange Twist

How to Make:

  • Mix the cocoa powder and sugar on a small plate.
  • Dampen the rim of a martini glass and swirl in the powder mixture to rim.
  • Add the chocolate liqueur and Baileys to a cocktail shaker filled most of the way with ice and shake for about 20 seconds.
  • Strain the mixture into a martini glass and float the orange liqueur on top.
  • Garnish with an orange twist.Orange Chocolate Dream

2) White Lady

The White Lady is a clean-tasting classic cocktail, perfect choice for the gin lovers at the office Christmas party.

The Ingredients: 50 ml Gin, 25 ml Triple Sec, 25ml Lemon Juice, Lemon Rind

How to Make:

  • Mix the ingredients in a shaker which is half full of ice.
  • Strain and serve in a sugar-rimmed glass.
  • Garnish with a strip of lemon rind. 

Continue reading “Top 7 cocktails for a Christmas party with Social & Cocktail” »

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Using garden pumpkins for my autumn display

This week I decided that it was an appropriate time of year to create my annual autumn flowers display in the living room. It’s usually more of an October thing, but I’ve been feeling decidedly autumnal after kicking up the leaves last weekend, writing about my favourite autumn colours and textures on Tuesday Shoesday and blackberry picking (which resulted in a yummy blackberry tart). The squashes that we’ve grown in the garden played a big part in my decision to bring autumn indoors, because they have finally ripened and hardened so were ready to pick.

Growing pumpkins and squashes for autumn

I want to share some photos of the growth of the squash because I really couldn’t believe my eyes when this tiny plant took over the garden, with it’s tendrils travelling all the way to the back fence, sprouting small yellow balls as it went. In the end the plant produced about 30 potential mini-squashes, but the seed packet told me that the plant should only produce 2-3 fruits. I was confused about why my plant was doing so well, but decided to I leave it to do it’s thing and grow as many as possible. Only a couple of weeks later I found out that it had self-selected 4 balls to grow into mini-pumpkins, while all the other fruit balls shrivelled up. Amazing really! Here I’ve used the squashes in my tablescape along with a massive marrow – the courgette that hid away under a massive leaf and managed to grow itself to it’s full potential! Growing pumpkins and squashes for autumn-3 Growing pumpkins and squashes for autumn-6

I decided to go in search of some suitably autumnal flowers to complete the display and I found this ‘Autumn Fields’ bouquet from Debenhams Flowers (use discount code BLOGG33 for 33% off if you want to get your own bouquet for an autumn display!). I was pleased to find the bouquet packed full of orange gerberas, purple phlox and even orangey ‘cherry brandy’ roses – what a great colour combination for September/October and it’s these colours that really recreate the feeling of autumn for me. These really are luxury flowers and it made my sideboard look fantastically to create an autumn floral tablescape display Autumn tablescape display - flowers and pumpkins-2I will probably add to the arrangement as I collect more conkers, autumn leaves and berries on my countryside walks, but for now I think it adds a lovely splash of colour to the room, and it definitely creates a feeling of warmth. It’s at this time of year that I really appreciate our mid-century modern living-room décor, as the teak furniture, leather sofa and orange wallpaper work together to ad warmth to the home and it really does look as autumnal indoors as it does outdoors.

Let me know if you enjoy creating floral displays in your home and get in touch if you’ve ever had an out-of-control plant in your veggie patch – I’d love to hear about it! Please leave me a comment below 🙂


The Great British Bake Off ~ My recipe for beef & ale pie

Today I’m a little later than usual sharing my recipe for the Great Blogger Bake Off, but here it finally is! Today I’m enjoying a delicious beef and ale pie which I’ve made (with a lot of help from my husband – the king of beef!) using a great local ale and tasty seasonal ingredients to create a delicious winter warmer pie with a crispy puff pastry lid. This kind of dish is one of my favourites during the colder months, and you can easily stew up double portions of the pie filling, and have pie one day then casserole the next!

I went to the local farm shop to pick up my ingredients – oddly enough I’ve not yet grown any of these vegetables in my garden, but I now know that they are a must for the veggie patch next year! It was loads cheaper to buy my fresh veg from the farm shop than I had imagined, my carrots were 50p, a massive bunch of leeks were 80p and a big bag of mushrooms were about the same price. As I made my purchases I was even told where the leeks had come from (just up the road) and the name of the chap of grew them (Don)! I made double portions so that hubby and I have a casserole to enjoy tomorrow, and I still didn’t even use up all the veg, so it was a super-cheap way to cook a filling meal!

Ingredients for 1 pie: 1 large or 2 small diced carrots per person, 1/2 onion per person, 1 leek per person, 5 button mushrooms per person, 150g diced stewing beef per person. And for the sauce: a lovely local ale, 1 teaspoon garlic paste, 2 beef stock cubes, 2 tablespoons of flour, bouquet garni (containing rosemary, thyme, sage and oregano from my herb garden), salt and pepper

Toss the beef in the flour and cook in a hot oven-proof pan until browned, set aside. Fry the onions, diced carrots, leeks and mushrooms in a little fry light in the same pan, before adding the beef back in. Add the garlic paste, bouquet garni, beef stock dissolved in enough boiling water to cover the veg/beef and half (or all if you’re making double portions!) of a bottle of local ale. I chose the punchy ‘No Guts No Glory’ IPA from Station 119 complete with gorgeous pin-up girl label (no surprise why hubby likes it so much!). Pop the pan into the oven at 180 degrees for about one hour until the stewing beef flakes apart. Season with salt and pepper to taste then put your preferred number of portions into a pie dish and top with a pastry crust. Bake in the oven for another 30 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and crisp.

beef and ale pie recipe

Okay, so I actually used bought puff pasty for the lid of my pie (argh, I can hear the cries of ‘cheat’ ringing in my ears – it was just a time-saving measure, honest!) but a shortcrust pastry would be equally as nice – here’s my recipe for a easy peasy shortcrust pastry. See, I can make the pastry too… I just didn’t do it this time. When it counts. Oops!

The obvious accompaniment to the pie was a delicious glass of No Guts No Glory which we are about to enjoy with our finished pie as we speak! And if you fancy trying out this local Suffolk beer, check out the Station 119 Facebook page. I’ve honestly never tasted such a deliciously rich pie and I love mushrooms cooked in this way! Please let me know if you try out this recipe but for now I’m off to enjoy my steaming-hot pie then watch The Great British Bake Off  to find out what the theme is for next week’s blogger bake off 🙂

Check out all the other Great Blogger Bake Off tart and pie recipes by following the links to these lovely blogs below:


Pieday Friday ~ Spiced caramel apple cake

I’ve been out picking apples this week – they are perfectly ripe and ready to be included in one of my Pieday Friday recipes. I think we can officially call it autumn now, and I want to celebrate this by making a cake that is spiked with festive spices and includes the fruit of the season – the caramel apple!

I decided to chop my apples into small chunks and mix them through the cake batter, which resulted in soft pockets of fruit throughout the cake. I wanted to create a carrot-cake-esque flavour so I added a few spices and it tasted extra-yummy with the cinnamon mixed in. This also dictated the cream cheese topping which was a slightly sour contrast to the sweet caramel-coated apples. Here is a three-part recipe for the cake, the icing and the caramel apples:

cassiefairy pieday friday recipe for spiced caramel apple autumn cake

To make the caramel: Melt 75 grams of butter in a non-stick pan, then add 50g soft light brown sugar and 50g caster sugar. Allow to melt into the butter then add 50g golden syrup and let the sugary mixture simmer for a minute. Give it a stir and make sure the sugar has completely dissolved then add in 125 ml double cream and mix together to make a light brown caramel sauce. There will be plenty of sauce to coat slices of apples which can then sit on a tray lined with greaseproof paper until ready to add to the top of the cakes.

pieday friday spiced caramel apple cakes for autumn

To make the cakes: Mix 250g of softened butter with 200g light soft brown sugar. Add in 3 eggs and a tablespoon of table apple sauce (or another egg if you dont have apple sauce) and 200ml milk. Mix together with a whisk then add in 280g self-raising flour, 1/2 a teaspoon of baking powder, 1 tablespoon of mixed spice, 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Peel and core 3 or 4 apples then chop into small chunks and add to the bowl and mix together to create a lumpy cake batter. Put into cupcake cakes (like these silicone flower pots from Dunelm Mill) or onto a greased/lined deep baking tray. Bake at 180C/160C fan/gas 4 for around 25 minutes for cupcakes and 35-45 minutes for the tray – keep an eye on them and check with a cocktail stick and if it comes out clean, they are cooked!

pieday friday spiced chunky caramel apple cakes recipe for autumn

To make the icing: Mix 100g softened butter with 300g soft cheese and 100g of sifted icing sugar. Add 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract if the mixture is too firm, or even a squeeze of lemon juice would be good to thin it down a little. Spread on top of the cakes and add a swirl of caramel apple slices to decorate.

You may well have some caramel saucer left over that you can enjoy on ice-cream or on drizzled into porridge (my favourite!) and you might have some cream-cheese topping left after you have decorated your cakes, and this can be kept in the fridge in a sealed container ready for the next batch, or can be spread onto crumpets for a tasty, sweet snack. I hope you enjoy making these seasonal apple cakes and that they get you in the mood for more festive baking! Let me know how you get on the with the recipe by leaving me a comment below 🙂

I’m participating in the 1st Edition Tiendeo cooking competition “Seasonal Recipes” and I’m entering this recipe – fingers crossed! Please vote for my recipe via their Facebook page thanks! 🙂

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