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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Tuesday Shoesday – Our his ‘n’ hers walking shoes & a ramble around the castle on the hill

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Hubby and I celebrated a day early because it was a really sunny day yesterday and we wanted to take advantage of the lovely weather and go for a walk. So we bundled up with our coats, scarves and gloves (it might have been sunny, but it was still a little nippy!) and headed out into the Suffolk countryside for a walk.We planned our walk around Framlingham Castle – Ed Sheeran’s ‘castle on the hill’ – so that we could take some photos of the stunning landmark in the winter sunshine. I’d been inspired to enjoy a low-cost day out after reading an article full of ideas for Valentine’s Day on a budget, so a walk (with a packed lunch!) was just the ticket. With it being half term (and a ‘Knights and Princesses’ event taking place inside the castle) it was a busy spot for a Monday morning, but all the other walkers we met were in good spirits. What I didn’t bargain for was just how muddy the paths around the picturesque mere would be. At least it gave us a chance to test out our new walking shoes – this terrain certainly put them through their paces. If my feet could stay comfortable and dry in this environment, then I’m pretty sure that the shoes will stand up to anything we throw at them in the future.

When my husband suggested walking around the castle moat, I was hesitant. I wasn’t planning on going for a paddle! He insisted that it was a ‘dry moat’ (well, I’ve never heard of a dry moat before, have you?!) so we climbed down the stairs and fair enough, it was pretty dry… as far as moats go.Interestingly enough, there were some lovely views from the moat looking up at the walls of the castle. It feels really imposing from below and the blue sky set off the stone castle walls beautifully. Even looking back into the sunshine created some really impressive silhouettes of the ancient walls.

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Travel aspirations for 2017 – Amsterdam

The trouble with Instagram is that it makes you want to travel. I can barely open the app without spotting photos of my friends flying to far-flung destinations, skiing down a picturesque mountainside or swimming in a turquoise blue sea. And it can’t just be me that’s seeing daily updates like this, can it? Okay, Instagram isn’t exactly a holiday brochure, but it pretty-much has the same effect on me. A photo of a glittering nighttime cityscape? It’s my blogging buddy enjoying a week away in New York. A steaming hot lagoon? That’s my friend’s new year’s trip to Iceland. And the northern lights? My brother’s mate lives in Finland. So forgive me for wanting to research exotic trips every time I try to put another photo of my sewing projects on Instagram (@Cassiefairy if you’re interested!).

Photo: Roetz Bikes

Photo: Roetz Bikes

Budget aside I’d love to visit all of these destinations, but home-buying tends to be an expensive business and I’d like to prioritise that this year. However, I’m sure that there are some nearer-to-home trips that I can take that will be just as Instagram-worthy as my friends’ holidays. So I’ve already been on the CitizenM website this morning, daydreaming of a trip to Amsterdam for 2017.

Photo: CitizenM

Photo: CitizenM

As the capital of the Netherlands, it’s a city that I’ve always wanted to visit but have never found a reason to go. My husband has been there recently, and really I should have gone on that work trip with him but I was too busy to take a break at the time. When he returned home with photos of canals and giant waffles I realised that I’d made a mistake. I vowed to go with him ‘next time’ and I’m already drawing up a list of places I want to visit while I’m there.

van-gogh-museum

Photo: Jan-Kees Steenman

I’ve been recently writing artist profiles so one of the first destinations on my ‘to do’ list is the Van Gogh Museum. I’ve read a lot about the artist and have recently been researching his work, but I’ve never seen his paintings ‘in real life’. When the Sunflowers exhibition was on at the National Gallery in London, the queue was a couple of hours long to see the exhibition, and tickets were rather expensive too. So hubby and I wandered around the gallery instead and, as we were passing a large door, it opened and we could see right into the Sunflowers exhibition. We weren’t more than a few feet away from the painting so technically I have seen it, but only for the few seconds that the door swung open and then closed again. Just that little taste of Van Gogh was enough to make me want to visit the museum in Amsterdam.

Photo: Jan-Kees Steenman

Photo: Jan-Kees Steenman

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No wifi for the weekend

When was the last time that you went offline? For me, it’s probably been years. Ever since I got my first smart phone I’ve not had a day away from the internet. Well, when you’re carrying a computer in your pocket at all times, and your job is based online, and your friends contact you via social media, how can you ever really get away from it? It used to be easy to take a break: on a Friday night you’d simply shut down your computer and relax for the weekend. There was no social media to tempt you to stay up late scrolling through posts, and no-one expected a reply to their emails until Monday morning. In fact, no-one really sent those Saturday evening emails, because they too had closed down their computer at the end of the working week.christmas-jumper-festive-mince-pie-fire-bath-hygge-reading-sewing-xmas-festive-wifi-1After months of hard work, I knew I needed a break so hubby and I went away for a relaxing weekend away in Badger cottage in Sweffling. It’s a charming little barn that’s been converted into a super-cosy two bedroom holiday home in the beautiful Suffolk countryside. Arriving on Thursday evening, were delighted to find original beams and character galore, a deep reclaimed roll-top bath, and a big log fire. Everything we needed was right there at hand in the well-stocked kitchen, bathroom and living room. The stack of firewood and flickering woodburner let us know that we were in for a warm and cosy weekend. Candles in every room offered a calming sense of hygge and we felt completely at home the minute we stepped inside the door.christmas-jumper-festive-mince-pie-fire-bath-hygge-reading-sewing-xmas-festive-wifi-3Taking time away from the internet was partially self-inflicted and partially down my GiffGaff phone not being able to get any signal. I wanted to make the most of my time away from home, of course I did, but I’d still brought along my iPad and phone in case I ‘needed’ to get online. After an inital ‘why isn’t it working?!’ frustration, I asked myself why I was even trying to get online anyway. I realised that just knowing that I could get online if I wanted to was a bit of a comfort blanket. And I also realised that I’m a grown-up and don’t need comfort blankets anymore! And if I could have logged on, it’s likely that I would have wasted the whole weekend scrolling through Instagram or saving things on Pinterest (I convince myself it’s okay to spend time doing this because it’s ‘research’). christmas-jumper-festive-mince-pie-fire-bath-hygge-reading-sewing-xmas-festive-wifi-2So thank goodness that I couldn’t find that 3G signal anywhere, and thank goodness that I didn’t go searching for a wifi hotspot. Because it turns out that I had the best few (internet-free) days ever… Continue reading “No wifi for the weekend” »


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Festive days out – Christmas at Blackthorpe Barn

This time last week I was preparing to attend the launch of Christmas at Blackthorpe Barn in Suffolk. It was my first Suffolk-based event as a blogger (not much seems to go on around here!) so you can imagine how chuffed I was to be invited to a blogger event that didn’t require travelling to London! I picked out my favourite snowflake jumper and pulled on my cosy suede boots and headed off to Rougham to attend the event, hosted by the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce.christmas-shopping-blackthorpe-barn-santas-grotto-festive-days-out-suffolk-19 christmas-shopping-blackthorpe-barn-santas-grotto-festive-days-out-suffolk-14 christmas-shopping-blackthorpe-barn-santas-grotto-festive-days-out-suffolk-21christmas-shopping-blackthorpe-barn-santas-grotto-festive-days-out-suffolk-8We were greeted with plenty of spectacular foliage and decorations in the entrance hall and the glass of champagne went down a treat! With canapés doing the rounds and plenty of lovely folk to chat to, I was in my element. But it was the impending opening of the Christmas barn that I was really excited about. I booked myself onto a tour of the ancient barn and Santa’s grotto as soon as I arrived!

As someone who has visited Blackthorpe Barn as part of the Christmas traditions for many years now, I was almost giddy with excitement to be at the opening event. The Mayor of Bury St Edmunds cut the ribbon to open the event and I’m proud to say that I was one of the first people into the Christmas barn this year. It was lovely to see the barn perfectly decorated without a bauble out of place. No doubt this will all change as customers start buying decorations but it was a delight to behold nonetheless.

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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.

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How a new dress can help you stay cool this summer

So I went away last weekend. I didn’t go far, just on our yearly jaunt to the Essex coast, but boy was it nice to be beside the seaside. The cool sea breeze was really needed after that heatwave the week before. Even stepping off the promenade and making my way inland caused instant overheating. Blimey it was hot! It was lovely to be on a UK break that actually felt like a trip abroad, and it meant that we could spend more time on the beach together as a family rather than sheltering from the rain in an arcade!hotsquash summer dress cool fabric ss16 outfitI think I’ve mentioned it before but I’m not great with the heat. My pale, freckly skin just doesn’t get on with the sun. On hot days you’ll find me slinking off into the beach hut to shelter from the sun and I’ll always choose to walk on the shadowy side of the street. SPF 50 is definitely my must-have beauty product at this time of year!hotsquash summer dress cool fabric polka dot outfit

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A romantic tour along the Amalfi coast

For romantic couples all over the world, the Amalfi coast has always been a favourite destination; not only because this region attracts the crème-de-la-creme of high society and offers a glamorous opportunity to mingle with the rich and famous (experience a chic and luxurious holiday even if you are on a budget!) but also due to its breathtaking natural scenery and cultural heritage. Today I’m pleased to bring you a fabulous guest post all about touring the Amalfi coast, and I hope it’ll inspire you to make some plans this summer, just like it has inspired me too!amalfi-coast-sunmaster-holidaysDesignated by UNESCO as “an outstanding example of a Mediterranean landscape, with exceptional cultural and scenic values,” it was added to the list of protected world heritage sites in 1997. The coast has had the privilege of being home to many famous artists, painters and writers over the centuries who found it to be a perfect place for inspiration during their travels. These include the likes of the 14th Century writer Giovanni Boccaccio, the famous 19th Century composer Richard Wagner, the 20th Century playwright Tennessee Williams and many movie celebrities.villa rufolo italy amalfi coast tour

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Why catching the bus is the thrifty travel option

Did you know that 4th-10th July is “Catch The Bus Week”? As a thrifty gal who likes to save money on travel this really interested me. Other than using park-and-ride services to travel into big cities like Cambridge and Norwich (which is a really thrifty way to park in cities like this, not to mention avoid sitting for hours in traffic!) I’ve not really been on a bus for quite a few years. But I remember it being a fun thing to set off on a trip by bus – especially when we were students – so ‘Catch The Bus Week’ (and the twitter hashtag #CTBW) really caught my attention and I wanted to investigate further.catch the bus weekWhen you consider the cost of owning a car (yes, those payments for insurance, car tax, MOTs and maintenance all add up!), combined with the fuel needed to make the trip, parking costs and the time it takes to sit in slow-moving traffic as busses zip past in the bus lane (time is money, my friend), I can’t believe that I hadn’t realised the thrifty nature of bus travel until now. It’s like having a pay-as-you-go vehicle, which totally makes sense to me – you only pay when you actually use it! And when I looked up bus fares this week I actually think that the price is less than I remember.biobusAnd I’ve not even mentioned the ecological benefits of only one vehicle travelling with numerous passengers. It would mean that roads are less congested, fewer emissions will be polluting the air in cities AND it rush hour will become a thing of the past. Okay, maybe I’m getting carried away here but travelling by bus is definitely something worth considering. I know that some regions have less-than-reliable bus services (we’re very rural here and catching a bus would be difficult) but there are lots of places you can easily travel by bus. Check out this interactive map to see some of the areas Stagecoach operate in.addenbrookes

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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

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One week, no jeans challenge

We all have a style uniform, don’t we? A particular style of outfit that you pull on day-in-day-out without really thinking about it. For me, it’s comfy jeans combined with a jumper in winter and the same jeans rolled up with a t-shirt in the summer. I reach for my skinny jeans instinctively every morning because I know they work with whatever top I want to wear and whatever footwear is needed to tackle the weather outside. Perhaps you have favourite pair of jeans too, or a coat you can’t be without, or a piece of clothing you love so much you buy it in bulk and you have it in every colour?one week no jeans outfit challenge holiday travel packing outfit inspiration fashion ideas spring summer 2016We’re all guilty of sticking to what’s comfortable, but the team at George want to challenge us to mix up your #styleYOUniform by setting you a challenge: one week, no jeans. “It can’t be done!” I hear you cry. We’ll I took up the challenge last week and I wanted to share how I got on with my little ‘experiment’. After wearing blue jeans practically every day for a year (except special occasions) I wanted to at least try to shed my style uniform and mix it up with some new outfit choices. Plus, I wanted to do it with just four items of clothing – being thrifty and making the most of my wardrobe is my kinda thing..! george clothing one week no jeans challenge holiday outfits

These are the items I’ve chosen for my one week, no jeans challenge from George, with a few extra accessories from my own wardrobe thrown in for good measure.

Considering that the weather is warming up I wanted to try uncovering my legs and slipping into some dresses and skirts for the week. There was a time, only a couple of years ago, when I would wear dresses all the time. A dress was my #styleYOUniform because it was so easy to wear – you only needed to make on choice in the morning: with or without tights. So feels a little strange to me to be ‘going back in time’ to my uni days by wearing a dress all week. Even so, the ease of getting ready with a dress was still there and I just added a couple of other items to make sure I had enough to rework my outfits to get me through a whole week. I think this would be great if you were going on holiday – just imagine how much room you’d have in your suitcase if you only packed these few items! one week no jeans outfit challenge holiday travel packing_The first outfit is a Monday ‘back to work’ outfit. A day of meetings calls for a smart tailored blazer and fitted skirt. I wore my white cardigan buttoned up beneath the blazer, but a crisp white shirt would look equally neat for a day in the office. My tasselled shoes in a neutral colour have a mid-height chunky heel so they are comfortable enough for a full day’s work. I removed the long strap from my shoulder bag to use it as a handbag, and turned it so that the non-tasselled side was showing for a smarter look. It’s big enough to hold notebooks, my laptop and all the business essentials I need to carry with me. All in all, a very successful, smart look for a hard day’s work.one week no jeans outfit challenge holiday travel packing_-4The second outfit is a ‘daytime date’ look. I wore the dress as a skirt, with the cardigan buttoned up over the top as a jumper. I dressed up this more casual look with a pretty necklace that my bestie gave me for my birthday and my tasselled heels. Again, I took off the long strap from my handbag and carried it tassel-side-out to add a touch of playfulness. Love the ditsy print of this dress and it’s definitely a cute look for a date.one week no jeans outfit challenge holiday travel packing_-6 Continue reading “One week, no jeans challenge” »

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