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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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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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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Spend the Summer in Suffolk – 5 things to see & do

If you’re keen to get out and enjoy the sunshine this summer, I’ve come up with a list of days out and fabulous events that you can enjoy in Suffolk. It’s a great county to visit (with plenty of gorgeous places to stay!) and it doesn’t get too busy on the roads during the summer holidays, so it’s great for a day trip too. I’ve put together a list of my favourite things to do and places to visit in Suffolk and hope that you’ll check out some of these ideas when you’re planning your own school holiday adventure.Latitude festival photos 2015-11

  1. Latitude festival

The highlight of my summer is Latitude Festival. It’s held at Henham Park, near the beautiful Suffolk coast and it’s a really family-friendly event. It’s easy to get to (practically on the A12), there’s plenty of parking and camping space, it’s well-organised, the loos are surprisingly good and it offers a diverse range of entertainment. I’m particularly excited about the dance line-up this year (which I wrote about on my blog when it was announced) because Swing Patrol are performing. Of course there’s all the hottest bands, top comedy performers, national theatre productions and the up-and-coming stars to enjoy too. A kids arena, inspirational art, delicious food, and surprise performances in the woods complete this magical festival. I shared my photos from the 2015 event on my blog last year and will be sure to report back this year too! I always leave with a smile on my face so you should check it out too at LatitudeFestival.com, held on 14th-17th July 2016.

2. Southwold Pier

I’ve written about Southwold Pier on my blog in the past, but it really IS worth mentioning again. It’s actually really close to Latitude Festival, so if you’re visiting for that event you could pop along to the pier one morning before the festival kicks off. The food on the pier is great, the automatons in the ‘Under the Sea Show’ have to be seen to be believed and you can even enjoy a cheesy visit to the arcade to feed some 2ps into the machine and pretend you’re on Tipping Point. It’s also possible to hire beach huts on Southwold beach so you can make a day of it and enjoy paddling in the sea and strolling down the promenade too. Check out my guide to the pier with maps and lots of photos!southwold pier attraction suffolk travel guide-4

Suffolk coastal travel guide southwold pier attraction-173. Snape Proms

I’ve booked my tickets and I’m going to the Proms. The Snape Proms that is. If you love music and comedy but don’t want to pay London prices to see orchestras and performers, then the Proms season at Snape Maltings is for you. Tickets for a Proms seat (sitting on a cushion at the front of the concert hall) start at just £6.50 so it’s a very thrifty way to enjoy some very high quality performances. If the performance you wanted to see has already sold out, have no fear – there are 10 tickets available on the morning of every performance so it’s just a case of getting the box office really early and queuing for your ticket. One thing to remember is that you can’t pick up 4 tickets for your whole family, it’s one per person, so if they all want to go they’ll have to come along on the morning and queue with you! Check out the schedule at Aldeburgh Music to find out what’s on during the Snape Proms this August.beccles lido swimming pool inflatable aquarun

4. Beccles Lido

If you remember outdoor swimming pools, then you’ve got to visit Beccles Lido. It’s a huge outdoor pool, with a very deep deep-end and even a good ol’ fashion diving board. There’s a separate shallow pool for the little ones and a VERY fun giant inflatable obstacle course that floats on the water. Imagine Total Wipeout and you’ve got it! The changing huts are painted in bright seaside colours and you can enjoy a poolside snack or drink at the kiosk. With sunloungers surrounding the pool and a location overlooking the riverside you’d be forgiven for thinking you were on a exotic holiday abroad. It’s really underrated, and there isn’t much information on the website, but the whole venture is run by volunteers who get the pool cleaned, maintain the gardens and staff the kiosk all summer long. Oh, and by the way, the obstacle course isn’t just for the kids, I’ve been on it plenty of times and actually completed it once, go me!

5. Framlingham Castle

Framlingham itself is a rather charming town, with country markets on a Tuesday and Saturday in the market square. There’s lots of cute cafes and traditional pubs so it’s a great destination to while away a sunny day. The castle at Framlingham is a pretty impressive sight. It can be viewed across the mere from New Road and it’s the ideal spot to take a picture-postcard snap of the castle. It’s owned by English Heritage so it’s open to visitors and has a small museum and shop inside, and you can enjoy a very long walk around the top of the castle walls. If you’re into countryside views and photography this is the place for you! The castle wall walk isn’t suitable for buggies but the museum is great for teaching the kids about history. During the summer holiday’s the castle hosts special events for children too so have a look at their website to find out what’s on.blue suede shoes - his n hers brogues_-3

I hope these ideas have given you some inspiration for places to visit, things to do and events to attend if you’re planning to visit Suffolk this summer. There’s so much for the kids to do and just as much fun for adults too. I really should be working with the tourist board but I assure you I’m not – I just LOVE this county and am so pleased to be able to enjoy all these fantastic locations regularly. I wouldn’t want you to miss out if you’ve never been to Suffolk before so please do check it out!


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Free weekend activity – Wild flower walk

Can you guess what we’ve been up to recently from the title of this blog post? Last weekend my husband and I set off on a lovely weekend walk in the countryside, planning to find a bluebell wood which (having googled it) we knew was nearby. After a long period of cold wintry weather in April, the sun was finally out so we wanted to make the most of this lovely spring weekend and get outside. We pulled on our boots, packed up our gloves (just in case the wind picked up) and even took a snack with us to nibble on at lunchtime. We were ready to head out into the great outdoors, to breathe in the fresh air, get a bit of exercise after a week cooped up in the office, and drink in the glorious views. Little did we know that all – and I mean ALL – the spring flowers had finally come into bloom. day out wild flower walk spring day out wild flower walk spring-4 day out wild flower walk spring-2 Our amble through the countryside had quickly turned into a botany trip. Spotting different flowers as we strolled along the footpath became a competition between us, almost like ticking off the flowers in an ‘Eye Spy’ wildflower book. Luckily, we’d brought the camera with us in anticipation of getting some pretty shots in the bluebell woods, so we began taking photos of all the flowers we saw on the route. We had soon photographed more varieties of flower, blossom and ‘weed’ than we could count, and that was before we’d even found our way into the wood.day out wild flower walk spring-20 day out wild flower walk spring-29day out wild flower walk spring-28When we arrived at Reydon Wood the route had been marked out by the Suffolk Wildlife Trust as a dedicated ‘bluebell walk’ so we strolled through the first part of the wood, still gathering photos of other varieties of flower, and hoping to round a corner and see a swathe of bluebells. You won’t believe it, but as we wandered along the path, the clouds burst open and it started to hail! Luckily, the canopy of the woodland protected us from being pelted with hailstones but we could see it coming down against the sunny backdrop of fields. Could a hail storm produce a rainbow, we wondered? Would it be solid? Thankfully, it was just a quick shower of hail and soon the blue skies were filled with fluffy clouds and sunshine again.

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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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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 little vintage caravan – On the road again!

Remember my little vintage caravan? It tends to be more of a focus of my blog posts during the summer, because I seem to spend most of my time out there when the weather is good. When it’s chilly and windy, like it has been this week, I’ve been rather more reluctant to work outside in my little tin can. Without a lot of heating it can be rather unbearable during the winter. BUT the good news is that I have been giving my neglected caravan a little bit of unseasonal attention this month and here’s why…vintage caravan spring cleaning_-5It’s been on the road! Yes, the caravan that I thought would never move again is actually road-worthy! Okay, I probably wouldn’t want to take it all the way from Land’s End to John O’Groats but those wheels do still turn, the tow-hitch is secure and the body is solid. I actually imagined that the walls would just fall down if I ever moved it, quickly turning it into a ‘flat-packed’ caravan. But it didn’t; the walls stayed where they should be and the windows didn’t pop out (quite amazing because one window sometimes slips out when you try to open it!). After holding my breath for about 2 hours while we attempted to move the caravan up the garden, I finally breathed a sign of relief as it smoothly rolled onto the driveway.vintage caravan interior with biscuit cushions and cat-11So, now I know that I actually could go on holiday in my little vintage caravan, I’ve started thinking about the things I’d need to make a trip easy and comfortable. Quite a lot of the usual caravan ‘home comforts’ were removed when I turned it into my home office: all the cupboards were damp and rotten so they were taken out – and this included the kitchen. In fact, everything apart from the bed and table was taken out and we basically started again from scratch. Instead of building in new cupboards I simply found some small cupboards at carboot sales and secondhand shops and upcycled them with a lick of paint.little-vintage-caravan-project-diy-makeoverAside from possibly building Continue reading “My little vintage caravan – On the road again!” »


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Tuesday Shoesday – Get your skates on!

If you don’t already know it, skating rocks! I’m sure that many of you have been roller skating as a teen, shuffled around an ice rink at a Christmas market or even grabbed a skateboard earlier in life. But to do it as an adult is a whole different experience. It’s actually fun. If you’ve not been skating in years, I’m here to change all that. I want to get you skating!

I probably don’t need to tell you that it’s great exercise, but I do need to tell you what a lovely idea it is to go on a skating date with your other half. You get to hold hands all day, enjoy the exhilaration of going a bit faster than you should, help each stay upright and ‘kiss-it-better’ if you fall down! And with Valentine’s Day coming up in February, what better excuse do you need to try out your childhood hobby again? Okay, my husband and I take plenty of walks, have fun dates and go to lots of events, but roller skating combines all of my favourite experiences and then adds music. That’s how cool it is. And speaking of cool…

Over Christmas my husband and I went ice skating at Somerset House. I actually had no idea that we were going to skate, we were just planning a day out in London to see the Ai Weiwei exhibition at the Royal Academy… or so I thought. We were visiting London just before my birthday and hubby had planned a surprise ice-skating session as a special birthday treat. After a big hug we skipped towards the festive rink, snapped some excited photos and buckled up our ice-skates.

Having only tried to ice-skate once before in my life (and not been all that great at it) my first few steps onto the ice were rather wobbly. I’m usually alright with roller skates, having done a lot of skating as a child (I was utterly fearless at the age of 10!) so feel at home skating around a roller rink. But ice-skating is a completely different experience. I think the slippery ice adds extra jeopardy to an activity that’s already throwing me off balance – you should see me hobbling across the carpeted area after I put my skates on. As accomplished skaters whizzed past me and nervous shufflers like me gripped the sides of the rink, I bravely stepped out onto the ice and immediately had to cling on to my husband to stay upright. Continue reading “Tuesday Shoesday – Get your skates on!” »


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Map Geek – Land by Anthony Gormley

I can’t believe it, we’re nearly at the school half-term holidays again! Where did the last 7 weeks go? If you’ve got children of school age you probably base your life around the academic calendar too and are looking forward to, or dreading (!), the impending half-term break. I thought I’d share with you a recent trip that we took to the Suffolk coast to give you a little inspiration for a day out during the holidays and, if you read on, there’s also a chance to nominate someone special to win a holiday to Majorca, but more about that later on!Antony Gormley LAND art exhibition sculpture for the landmark trustAntony Gormley LAND art exhibition sculpture for the landmark trust-9The reason for my recent trip to the seaside was to visit an art installation. To mark their 50th anniversary The Landmark Trust commissioned five art installations by Anthony Gormley as part of its LAND sculpture series. Each sculpture was created in response to the location and was installed on five different Landmark sites across the country. The sculpture that I visited was on the Suffolk coast so it was a fun visit to the seaside and an ideal day out for the school holidays.Antony Gormley LAND art exhibition sculpture for the landmark trust-15 Antony Gormley LAND art exhibition sculpture for the landmark trust-10 Continue reading “Map Geek – Land by Anthony Gormley” »


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Gathering garden inspiration from Jimmy’s Farm

This week I have been out and about in the Suffolk countryside getting inspiration for my own garden and veggie patch, and where better to start than at Jimmy’s Farm just outside Ipswich. Hubby and I took a stroll around the farm on a sunny day and I took a few snaps as a visual ‘sketchbook’ to remind me of ideas for planting veg and flowers in our own garden.

The whole farm is full of wonderful views and I especially enjoyed looking at the kitchen garden to see what was being grown and to get ideas for my own planting. I really like the alternating lines of plants and using herbs with different coloured leaves would help me achieve this very neat look at home. There were also plenty of other flowers and plants to admire, which has got me thinking about the types of foliage and blooms I’d like to have in a flower bed in the future.

We also came across this amazing mud-hut-esque building on the farm. It’s made of logs stacked end on within a kind of clay/mad wall. I love the quirky additions of stained glass windows of different shapes and sizes, plus it was really cosy yet cool inside. The roof was covered in grass and as the whole building was constructed using wood and earth, it was probably one of the most eco-friendly houses I’ve ever come across. It certainly gave my husband some ideas for building himself a ‘man cave’ and we’ve already allocated a spot for it in the garden!

Jimmy’s farm makes for a very relaxing day and we stopped to have a cup of tea before browsing the shop and butchers and buying a few of the farm’s famous pork sausages to take home with us. It was a lovely day out and I’d recommend going for a visit when there’s an event on, such as the regular farmers markets or food festivals so there will be even more to see and do!

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