Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??


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Tuesday Shoesday ~ His & Hers

A couple of weeks ago my husband and I were out at an event with some friends when one of our pals drew attention to our footwear. There was pointing and a cry of ‘His & Hers!’ as they spotted that we had chosen, completely independently, to each wear a pair of tan brogues; mine from Clarks (which I wrote about earlier in the year) and his from the carboot sale (they have also popped up in a Tuesday Shoesday blog post on 50p shoes recently!). Okay they weren’t exactly the same – mine were boots and his were shoes, but it was noteworthy enough that our male friend thought to comment on it and we took a photo. I couldn’t believe that we hadn’t noticed this when we were getting ready in the morning. Our tastes are gradually merging and we are becoming one person..!

tuesday shoesday fashion footwear - his n hers brogues

The same thing has happened again this month. We’ve been shopping online and were both choosing a new pair of shoes when we made another ‘his & hers’ decision without realising it. Hubby had previously got some grey Farli Limit shoes from Clarks (which are so pretty that I wrote about them) and found that they were so comfortable that he wanted to get the same style of brogues but in the midnight blue colour.

The coincidence that I’m talking about today is the fact that I (completely independently!) ordered two pairs of ladies brogues from Clarks too. I picked two pairs of Hamble Oak brogues; in stone and in navy blue but when I came to check out, only the navy shoes were in stock in my size. So this week the postman delivered hubby’s Farli Limit brogues in navy blue nubuck and my still-in-stock Hamble Oak brogues in navy blue suede. Can you believe it?! We’ve done it again! I think it’s really rather nice that we have such similar tastes and that we like the same styles, but I think we should be careful about wearing the same shoes at the same time! A regular occurrence in our household is that I’ll be getting ready for a day out with my husband and will put on jeans and a burgundy jumper, for example. Hubby will get ready, then as we are about to leave the house we will look at each other and realise that he too is wearing jeans and a burgundy jumper. It happens all year round – my wardrobe seems to have accidentally coordinated with his - and we often make the same choices without realising. The only time we are guaranteed to be wearing something completely different is if I put on a floral dress in the summer!

blue suede shoes - his n hers brogues_

blue suede shoes - his n hers brogues_-3

The same thing used to happen with me and my best friend; we would go shopping independently and would end up buying the same clothes. On more than one occasion I’ve worn on a skirt and she too has turned up with the exact same skirt – and neither of us even knew that the other had bought it. Even recently, when we are living in completely different counties at opposite ends of the country, we have bought the same dress! Just call me Cassie the Chameleon.

blue suede shoes - his n hers brogues_-2

blue suede shoes - his n hers brogues_-4

Anyway, our shoes from Clarks arrived and I couldn’t resist taking these photos as we tried out our new shoes at the beach. Although we might not wear them at the same time again, I don’t really mind if we do. I think it’s nice that we have similar tastes (not least because we both love brogues of all colours!) and at least we’ll never criticise each others choices  :) Let me know if anything similar has happened to you with a partner or friend and tweet me @Cassiefairy your photos of your ‘his & her’s shoe or outfits.

blue suede shoes - his n hers brogues_-5

 I still can’t believe that Cassiefairy.com has made it onto the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 shortlist for Best Lifestyle Blog! It would mean the world to me if you would vote for my blog before voting closes on 29th August – thank you SO much!


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Finding your very own personal shopper

Everybody wants a celebrity wardrobe, but knowing how to go about achieving one can be quite tricky. Luckily, there are people who specialise in helping find wardrobe pieces that are stylish, flattering, and a perfect fit for your wardrobe. That’s right – personal shoppers. With services from personal styling and image consulting to revamping your wardrobe, personal shoppers are a great way to help you achieve that stylish wardrobe you deserve. If you are looking for the perfect attire but don’t know where to begin, check out these personal shopping services from a variety different stores: Continue reading “Finding your very own personal shopper” »


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My #SpendingDiary month is over!

At the start of June I vowed to keep a spending diary with the intention of finding out just where all my money goes! Read my blog post all about it here. I started keeping track of receipts and even small payments like buying a stamp or a cup of coffee – it’s amazing how quickly all those little 50ps and pounds add up! At times it was difficult to even remember what I’d spent during a day out but the money was no longer in my purse so I had to really think back and jot down all the little things I’d paid for from the car-boot sale or food that I’d bought at the end of every day. It sometimes slipped my mind in the evening and I had to fill in my diary the following morning, but all in all I managed to keep up with it and I’ve learnt a few things from it. By the end of the month, it just seemed as natural as writing a normal diary at the end of the day, so I’m sure that I’ll stick with it in future!

Spending Diary challenge for 2014-1

The whole #SpendingDiary plan was inspired by some research by the Children’s Society that 1 in 5 families in the UK are struggling with financial problems. I’d read the report on the Wilson Field blog and thought about what I could do to take control of my own personal spending. So at the start of June I not only started accounting for every penny that I spent, but I also started making proper lists for shopping and household items. Rather than simply browsing the shops and picking up whatever I like the look of, I now head into the town centre with a list and I shop around to find those items – and I stick to it! There have obviously been a few unnecessary items that I just liked the look of – eg a pair of My Little Pony PJs reduced in Primark when I’d gone in for leggings and a vest – but there’s no need to deny yourself the treats that you really want or miss out on a bargain just because you’re keeping an eye on your pennies! It’s more about keeping track of money in order to stop 0ver-spending and getting a shock at the end of the month.

June was a particularly difficult month, because my car was due its MOT and tax so that’s extra expense on top of my usual bills and day-to-day spending. Luckily, I’d put a little aside over the previous months so that I could afford to pay for any work that needed doing on the car and now I have a vehicle that will hopefully be usable for the coming year and I can start saving for next years tax and MOT!

Cassiefairy's spending diary 2014

I’ve also used my new shopping list pad to make sure that my food shop is as thrifty as possible. I’ve been writing down what meals I intend to cook during the week and only buying the ingredients for those specific meals. I’ve found that my supermarket bill has gone down a little and I’m not throwing out excess food because it all gets used up in the dishes. That doesn’t mean that I’ve not strayed from my list while shopping when I’ve seen a bargain: My favourite crackerbreads were reduced to less than half price because the packaging was being rebranded so I managed to buy every packet on the shelf. That may sound excessive but I eat this product every day for my lunch and I know that I will need them over the coming month so I’ve managed to save and buy in bulk. All this talk of food is making me hungry! And that’s another thing: I’ve been making sure that I’m not shopping while I’m hungry because I know that’s when I start grabbing crisps and cookies instead of sticking to my list.

Overall I’ve learnt that by simply keeping count of what I’ve been spending has made me a more careful spender. I’ll really think about it before making a purchase and I know how it’ll affect my bank balance before I buy it rather than getting a surprise statement at the end of the month. I’ll definitely stick with my #SpendingDairy and I’d love it if you have a go at keeping track of your finances too. Tweet me @Cassiefairy #SpendingDiary and let me know how you get on!

 

 

HOPE jewellery handmade in the uk to support charity


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Give a little HOPE with your next gift

Shopping for low-cost, hand-crafted, UK-made jewellery that helps charity projects - sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? But I’ve recently discovered an amazing online gift shop that does just that – HOPE Jewellery. As you probably know here at the Cassiefairy blog I love to support ethical companies, charities and socially responsible brands so I when I found out about this shop I simply couldn’t keep it to myself and wanted to share it with you all!

I got in touch with the shop and had the opportunity to interview two lovely volunteers, Natalia Molinero Mingorance and Lakshmi Sankaran about their involvement in Enacus (the student-led company that runs the ethical store) and all the voluntary work they do for the HOPE Project. I hope you’ll find the responses as interesting as I did and that you’ll be able to see why gift shopping with the HOPE store is a great idea.

HOPE jewellery handmade in the uk to support charity

Natalia, please tell us a little about Enactus and what it does?

Enactus Sheffield is a social enterprise company, based at the University of Sheffield. Through both social and commercial projects we aim to harness students’ entrepreneurial spirit, to make a difference in our local community and to communities abroad. Guided by academic advisors and business experts, the student leaders of Enactus create and implement community empowerment projects around the globe. The experience not only transforms lives, it helps students develop the kind of talent and perspective that are essential to leadership in an ever-more complicated and challenging world. Enactus operates in 1,600 Universities across 38 countries. Currently we have a total of 62,000 students who have put 7,300,00 hours into running their Enactus teams and developing their projects.

Lakshmi Sankaran, you’re the volunteer project leader of the HOPE Commercial Team - when did you first get involved in the project and why?

I joined the HOPE team in February 2013 and have been a part of Enactus for over a year now. During this time I have seen HOPE Commercial grow immensely. I joined it due to my passion for helping social causes. This project interested me since it empowers women, motivating me as a woman myself. There are millions of women all around the world who suffer from human trafficking and domestic abuse. As humanitarians we must take a stand to stop this and the HOPE project at Enactus Sheffield provides an elegant, sustainable solution through the use of enterprise. This year HOPE has expanded a lot. We are in two major shops in Sheffield; we have rebranded our website, merchandise and social media; we have also held sales events in large venues, for instance at the final Ice Hockey Varsity game at the Motorpoint Arena. With continued support and exposure we believe we can share our beautiful bracelets as well as our significant social cause with others who wish to change the world, just like us!

What does the HOPE Project aim to do?

HOPE Jewellery works with survivors of Human Trafficking, and victims of sexual and domestic abuse in South Yorkshire, with the aim of providing skills, knowledge, training, and confidence to be able to support themselves and their family financially in the future. This is partly achieved through the model of a jewellery business where the women hand-craft beautiful jewellery to sell. The women we work with are then empowered to use the skills and knowledge transferred to them independently in gaining employment or setting up their own micro-enterprises. This allows them to independently finance themselves and their family, enabling them to have a better and brighter future. All profits made from the jewellery sales are either directly fed back into the project, or kept aside as a micro-finance pot for the women to access when they need it.

HOPE jewellery new collection of bracelets made in the uk

How does the jewellery help the survivors of human trafficking?

We aim to empower vulnerable women to lead a better quality of life providing them with essential entrepreneurial skills. All the profits made by the commercial team, selling the bracelets, goes back to the women in their times of need. They can approach HOPE to provide them with financial support if they are interested in starting their own business. This project provides the women with many employability skills; communication, teamwork, planning, sales and motivation. This year the project was aimed to further develop the women’s entrepreneurial skills by locally sourcing all the materials for the bracelets as well as giving the different safe house teams the chance to design all the bracelets.

The women come to the craft fairs as well to see the commercial side of the project. The hope social teams run sessions to improve the women’s employability skills. For instance some of the women from the safe houses are involved in our sister company, HOPE Cosmetic’s placement scheme. This provides them with writing CVs, interview training and important workshops that build the ability of the women to go out into the world and be independent. We aim to provide continued support for women when they leave the safe houses with our community projects.

Please can you tell us about your sister site, HOPE Cosmetics?

By selling cosmetic products this team contributes so much to the ongoing success of the HOPE project. By bringing in new streams of revenue, the reps make sure we can keep offering our placements and empowering survivors of human trafficking and victims of domestic abuse. 

HOPE cosmetics natural scrub and body butter

So what do you think? Fancy buying the next birthday gift for your mother from HOPE? Or how about treating yourself to a natural, handmade HOPE cosmetics product such as a lip balm, scrub or body butter? All of my friends and family can certainly expect a to receive a little HOPE with their next gift and I’d love it if you would consider shopping and supporting this charitable project soon. Check out their Facebook page here – HOPE Sheffield.


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The only tights you’ll need this year

Quite a bold promise I know, but honestly you really won’t need any more pairs of tights that these two! I spend my life in one or the other of these tights (depending on the weather!) so I know how useful they are for all weathers and all seasons. If you buy these tights (I don’t mean just one pair, you can have more than one of each!) you will never need to go looking for a suitable pair again. Here’s why they are my favourites:

1. Silky Textures 140 Denier Thermal Fleece Tights - these are the best ever winter tights. And I mean EVER. That’s because they are thick opaque tights (as we all know black tights go with any outfit to turn a summer outfit into a winter look!) that don’t run and don’t get holes in them, thanks to the double layer of fabric – they are silky soft tights on the outside but are fleece lined on the inside. You can imagine how toasty you’ll be in these tights – they are practically a fleece jumper for your legs! I’ve been wearing and washing a few pairs for the past 6 months and they still are showing no signs of holes, runs or pulls. The only downside was that the silky side got a little bobbly after lots of machine washing but I could pull off the bobbles without making runs in the tights (same as pulling bobbles off a jumper) and when I needed a quick solution, I simply turned the tights inside out so that the fleece was on the outside. The fleece has no bobbles (and they don’t really look like fleece at all) so the tights still looked great in spite of months of wear. I’ve just got some of the Pretty Polly chocolate brown fleece tights (below) so I’ll let you know how I get on with these too! Please be careful not to confuse these tights with the Silky Textures Acrylic tights which were much more woolly and less long-lasting.

winter thermal tights and toeless summer pantyhose review

2. Charnos Simply Bare No Toe Tights - the ultimate spring and summer tights. When it’s a little too cool for bare legs but you don’t want to wear black tights I’d definitely recommend these. I am a lifelong hater of getting my legs out in the summer but these tights allowed me to bare my legs with pride because they provide a natural tan colour to your legs that is so sheer that even up-close my friends and family couldn’t tell that I was wearing tights. Not only is it the sheerness of the 7 denier tights (with the strength of 15 denier) that tricked them, but it was the fact that they are no-toe tights so I could wear flip-flops and sandals without anyone suspecting that I had a pair of tights tucked between my toes! Unlike other no-toe tights that I’ve tried (which tended to roll up under my foot) these have a toe loop which keeps the tights in the right place by anchoring them to your big toes. As long as you have a thin strap on your sandals across the toes, no one will ever see the join and will be sure that you’re rocking bare tanned legs with confidence. If you’re worried about being too hot in tights during the summer these have “climate control technology” which let your legs breathe – I never once felt too warm wearing them throughout the whole of last summer. As you can see I have stocked up for this summer already even though I have 2 pairs in my underwear drawer that are still going strong from last year!

You can buy both of these brands (along with loads more bargain pairs of tights in different styles and thicknesses) at UK Tights and now I never buy anything else. Sure there might be cheaper options available but in this case you really do get what you pay for – and that’s hard for me to say because I’m such a spendthrift! I know that I’m actually saving money when I spend out on these tights because I can wash and wear them time and again and that I can get a whole season’s use out of them rather than struggling with laddered tights after one use. Plus I usually keep an eye out for special deals from this website because they always have a couple of brands on offer so I make my purchases while there is a discount on ;)

One final thing – and probably the most important factor of all – these tights don’t slip down while you’re wearing them. For me there’s nothing worse than penguin-waddling after your tights have come down a little and having put up with the discomfort until you get the chance to hoist them back up when no one is looking! Let me know what you think of my choices and tell me what you usually wear on your legs throughout the year – can you recommend anything for me? Leave me a comment below or tweet me @Cassiefairy :)