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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Map Geek – Make it personal with romantic maps

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll already know what a geek I am when it comes to maps. Old, new and anything inbetween – maps are intriguing, enticing and informative. I’m the kind of person who wanders over to information maps on footpaths or in city centres and looks like a total tourist, but really I’m just interested in the map itself. Why is it here? What’s nearby? Any special information? Someone has taken the time to make that map and put it there, so surely there’s a reason that’s worth investigating. So it probably comes as no surprise that I also love to have maps in my own home too, and that’s where Mapify comes in. Read on to find out more about my Valentine’s map and how you can win your very own personalised map created just for you by Mapify in my giveaway – and there’s THREE prizes to be won!Thankfully, my husband is equally interested in maps, so when there’s an museum exhibit of old relief maps in the Lake District, or an exhibition of Max Gill’s famous street maps at The Lettering Arts Centre we are first in the queue to see it. I guess we’re well suited to each other, eh? So what better gift could I get for my husband this Valentine’s Day than a personalised map? Well, I’m pleased to say that it IS possible to create your own map of any location throughout the whole world, and have a fantastic quality print on your wall in a matter of days. Mapify is the serviceI used to make this special gift, and here’s how I did it.

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Party ideas for a big night in – I heart NY

It’s all about love this Valentine’s weekend and I wanted to do something special for my husband. We’re being especially frugal this year (saving for a home of our own) so there won’t be any lavish nights or holidays to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. But that doesn’t mean it will pass by unnoticed. Instead, I’ve made my own Valentine’s card for him (see my easy card-making DIY post here) and I created a memories box packed full of photos last week (see the making-of video here). I still wanted to celebrate the occasion so I surprised him with an “I Heart NY” party!i heart ny new york party inspiration ideas-9I wanted it to be a ‘big’ night in without spending a fortune so I decided that the best way to surprise hubby was to bring a party into our living room and get everything ready while he was at work this Friday. I put up USA flag bunting and a string of light-bulb fairy lights, then sprinkled red-white-and-blue star confetti everywhere. New York is somewhere that my husband and I have always wanted to travel to but have never found the spare cash to be able to go yet, so I thought it would be the perfect Valentine’s treat to bring The Big Apple to him instead. Plus, there’s hearts involved (okay, an I Heart NY t-shirts to be exact!) so that make’s it romantic too.i heart ny new york party inspiration ideas-8I gathered together all our favourite films set in New York, such as You’ve Got Mail, When Harry Met Sally and, of course, all the Sex and the City films. I wonder if I could have got away with putting on the SATC box set?? On the TV is Sleepless in Seattle, when the Empire State Building lights up with a red heart on Valentine’s Day. What a moment! All I needed was a big tub of popcorn and some US candy bars (oh yes, those are pretzel M&Ms, hurrah!) and we were all set to enjoy a romantic film night.

This would also be a great night-in with the girls, especially with all the chick-flick movies I’ve got lined up! So consider throwing an “I Heart NY” party for your friend’s hen party or birthday too! And don’t forget it’s “Galentine’s Day” tomorrow too! Check out my blog post about hosting a Galentine’s party for your besties, plus some delicious flavoured hot-chocolate recipes.

In terms of eats, I cooked up Continue reading “Party ideas for a big night in – I heart NY” »


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Breathtaking Valentine’s Day gifts + save 33% on flowers!

When you’ve not got much time and Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, the quickest and easiest option is to shop for gifts online. But that doesn’t have to mean you’re not putting any thought or effort into choosing a treat for your favourite person. Oh no, there are plenty of simply gorgeous gifts online that you just can’t get anywhere else and I’d love to show you what I mean…rose bouquet flowers gift blossoming gift valentines present-2rose bouquet flowers gift blossoming gift valentines present-5First up, I wanted to show you some of the unique gifts available on Etsy. As each item is hand-crafted or vintage, you can be sure that your other-half won’t have come across the gift before and it will be a true surprise. Okay, sometimes items are handmade to order, which adds a little extra time to the ordering process and it might have to be a Valentine’s Day ‘promise’ rather than something they can unwrap on the day. But who wouldn’t want to be given a note that reads “I’ve bought you a handmade gold pendant”?! I personally love all the textile crafts you can find on Etsy and these are some of my favourite heart-motif goodies.knitted heart scarf

Grey and pink knitted scarf by Grace Cook Knitwear

knit heart gloves etsyHand-spun alpaca wool gloves by Spinning Spider Webb

I love love love Maria Allen jewellery and this is one of her gorgeous Valentine’s Day designs. My bestie gave me an amazing personalised locket from Maria Allen for my birthday a couple of years ago and it’s my most cherished piece of jewellery. I can almost guarantee that this would be a winning gift for Valentine’s Day so feel free to use this blog post to drop a huge hint to your hubby ladies!etsy valentines locket marie allen gold necklaceAnd of course, it wouldn’t be valentine’s day without a beautiful bouquet of roses! Listen up hubby! There’s still plenty of time to order a bouquet online at Blossoming Gifts (where I got these sugar-pink blooms from). Ordering flowers online don’t have to be an expensive venture either; these bouquets are stunning yet not over-priced, starting at just £11.99. You can also find potted roses, lilies and orchids that will live on beyond Valentine’s day, plus many bouquets comes with a free gift, such as a box of chocolates or teddy bear. Plus you can save 33% on selected bouquets by using the discount code “BGIFTS33”, bonus!rose bouquet flowers gift blossoming gift valentines present rose bouquet flowers gift blossoming gift valentines present-4I was very impressed when the bouquet was Continue reading “Breathtaking Valentine’s Day gifts + save 33% on flowers!” »


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Relationship tips for Valentine’s Day & beyond

Yesterday I read a newly launched article (and challenge!) about getting and staying close to the one you love; 27 Expert tips to be closer to you spouse. The article taps into the knowledge of experts from the fields of psychology, relationships, counselling and health care, asking each professional to share advice on maintaining a long and happy relationship. With Valentine’s Day coming up next week, I was intrigued and decided to read on to find out what the pros had to say!27Ways_Main_TwitterThe article shares lots of sound advice for good communication, building trust and managing arguments, all of which would prove very useful within a relationship. The experts are sharing tips on social media each day throughout February and have challenged readers to try out a tip each day to ensure a loved-up month. I like the idea of joining in with a month of challenges, especially when we’re all thinking about love this Valentine’s Day – wouldn’t it be lovely to take the romance with us into the year ahead? The article not only focuses on the psychological aspect of relationships, it also shares some fun ideas for activities and romantic things to do together too.27 tips for being closer to your spouseAside from the focus on couples, the tips were actually applicable for all kinds of communication, such as with friends, family and children. I was actually more interested in the tips that could be applied to different areas of life and they really made me think about the way I interact with others. Continue reading “Relationship tips for Valentine’s Day & beyond” »


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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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What to get for the man who has everything – well, he’s already got me ;)

This is a thrice-yearly problem for me. I have a husband who doesn’t want anything. For birthdays he insists he’d rather no-one celebrated it, at Christmas he claims he doesn’t want a stocking, and thinks that Valentines Day shouldn’t warrant any effort. Actually, make that 4 times a year: even on our anniversary he starts dropping hints during the weeks beforehand that he won’t be expecting a gift. Yet he spoils me every time. I think ‘showered with gifts’ is the correct term. Thankfully, I always ignore him and go ahead and buy him loads of prezzies anyway, and of course he is delighted. You see, he’s not all bah humbug or a grumpy old sod, he simply doesn’t want anyone to make a fuss but is always pleasantly surprised when we all do! This year I’ve been going for a different approach to gift giving and trying out some new, thrifty ideas for the man who doesn’t want anything. Here are my plans:

  1. Spend hours creating a Facebook album with all his silliest photos then share it with friends on the big day and tag him in all 100 images. It could be all the fancy dress outfits he’s worn over the years, or his worst face-pulling antics. The album I’ve made is ‘The Beard’ including all the silly shapes he’s trimmed his beard into over our lifetime together including Ali G goatee, handle-bar moustache and ‘the tiger’. There’s nothing like a bit of public humiliation to say ‘happy birthday’ to the one you love.

pieday friday white and milk chocolate chip sponge cake recipe

  1. Bake a massive cake. You don’t have to be the best cook and it doesn’t have to taste amazing: it just has to be BIG with piles of sweets and choccies on top. They say size doesn’t matter, but it does when it comes to a man’s birthday cake. I already know that I’m a bit rubbish at making cake (honestly, I’m getting worse – my last attempt was put out for the birds and even they didn’t want it) so I’ve bought some packet mixes to make sure I don’t go too far wrong and will just cover up any mistakes with a load of buttercream and chocolate icing!

  2. Sticking with the food theme, take him out for a big slap-up dinner. Again, it doesn’t have to be expensive, posh or luxurious – just BIG. Think massive portions, meaty meals and huge ‘sharer’ desserts for one. All-you-can-eat buffets really come into their own on birthdays, and if you don’t fancy a night out how about ‘one of everything’ on the takeaway menu? Burgers, chicken, pizza, chips, kebab (hold the salad) and a 2 litre bottle of fizzy pop will result in a very satisfied man at the end of the meal.

  3. Make him do something. Buy an experience voucher and send him out on a fun activity for the day. Paintballing, golf, knitting classes etc. One of the most memorable gifts I’ve ever bought hubby, and the one he always refers to, is a racing day at Silverstone. He loved driving that Ferrari and 9 years on we still have a photo of ‘my little racing driver’ hanging on the bedroom wall to prove it. But doesn’t have to be a pricey activity and there are plenty of discount deals available online, just shop around and go for the cheapest. I mean, the one he’ll enjoy the most. 😉 Or maybe try Giift.com, which is a new and innovative service that helps you to manage all your loyalty programs and gift cards in the same place, so he can choose what he’d like to spend the gift voucher on for himself, and get something he really wants!

So what do you think of my plans for hubby’s next celebration? Do you have any ideas of your own for treating the man you love without spending a fortune?


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Dream a little dream ~ Kiss from a rose

In honour of Valentines day last week, I thought I’d share the recent addition I made to the “book wall” in my bedroom – I added a few pages with drawings of roses. Although I liked the feature wall as it already was, wallpapered with the pages of three books and some sheet music, some of the pages were much darker than the others and was making the room look a little dark. I therefore wanted to cover up some of the dark brown pages (which turned out to be the Marilyn Monroe book) so I looked through one of the other books we’d used which was a book on growing roses. I really liked the drawings of the different rose species and even though these pages were much paler than all the others I thought I would give it a ago.

DIY bedroom makeover with old book pages

 

I mixed up some wallpaper paste and started sticking the picture pages onto the wall, but half way though I had a crisis of confidence. Maybe I didn’t like the rose pictures as much as I thought? Does it look too much like wallpaper with pictures on rather than the wall of text that I’d intended it to be? I tried peeling a couple of pages back off, but the wallpaper paste was a particularly quick-drying kind and the pages didn’t want to come away from the wall easily. So I carried on and figured that I could simply add more book pages over the top if I really didn’t like the effect once it was finished. Half an hour later I stood back and took a look at the wall as a whole. And thankfully, I liked it! The paler pages really made the room look much lighter and the roses did look cute and kinda romantic.

DIY bedroom makeover with old book pages and roses

Plus this reminded me that I already had some bedding with a rose design on which we had been given as a wedding gift 10 years ago but had long-since stopped using on a regular basis. So I tried it on the bed and it worked great with the new roses on the feature wall. I’m happy with how the whole design has turned out and I guess there’s no harm in having a slightly more girly pattern on the wall!


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DIY night in at the movies for Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s day fast approaching I’ve come up with a simply DIY gift that you can easily make for your loved ones with time to spare. This gift is a ‘Night in at the Movies’ and includes all the snacks, treats and DVDs that you’d need to enjoy a night in with your favourite person. It’s an ideal gift to give to your partner for Valentine’s day and maybe you can include a couple of action or comedy DVDs that you know the man in your life will enjoy. Or if you’re single you can even make a gift bag up for your bestie and enjoy a girly night in together watching the old classics or the latest rom-com. Either way, you’ll be showing your favourite people just how important they are to you on the most romantic night of the year.

You’ll need: Scissors, small gift bag, double-sided sticky tape or glue, patterned paper or card, candy, microwave popcorn, choice of film.

DIY night in at the movies gift bag

  1. First you all you’ll need to make the bag smaller so that it holds the DVDs better, so what I’ve done is cut the bag in half down the sides and across the bottom.
  2. Use double-sided sticky tape or glue to stick the two pieces of the bag back together by inserting one side inside the other to make it into a thinner bag.
  3. Cut a rectangle of patterned paper or card the same size of the base of the thinner bag and stick it to the base inside to cover the over-lap on the inside.
  4. Just head down to the supermarket and pick up some snacks and candy – and don’t forget the microwave popcorn!

DIY night in at the movies gift bag - great valentines present

5. Pick up your pal’s favourite genre of DVD – maybe an all-time a classic film such as The Wizard of Oz that I’ve included for my best girlfriend.

6.Add all the goodies into the bag and write ‘A night in at the movies’ on the gift tag then hand it over to your Valentine with the promise of a lovely night in together.

This would be a lovely birthday gift for a film-buff or even a mothers’ or fathers’ day present so you can recreate it all year round for your favourite people!


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Valentine’s Day craft project – You light up my life ;)

I love this craft project to make a little trinket / paperweight for your loved-one for Valentines day. Yes, that’s right, you don’t have to buy this gift from a designer or craft fair – you can make it yourself at home!

lightomlbulb by design sponge

I found the DIY instructions for this super-cute gift on Design Sponge (but please be careful & follow their step-by-step guide carefully because working with glass can be dangerous!). I thought I would share the link so that you can have a go at making it yourself as an adorable treat for someone special. And it’s not just for Valentine’s Day – it would be equally good for a Mother’s Day or birthday gift too, just change the words on the base!
iloveyoubulb dity craft project for valentines day by design sponge

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