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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Household DIY – How to strip woodchip wallpaper, the easy way!

Stripping wallpaper is a skill I’ve recently developed. Woodchip wallpaper in particular. It’s a difficult paper to shift and, unfortunately, it seems to be plastered all over ‘houses of a certain age’. I guess it was very fashionable at one point but nowadays it’s the number 1 thing that puts potential buyers off a house. And it’s bloomin’ hard to remove. Yes, I speak from experience here! Thankfully there are ways to make the process a little easier and here’s the steps I followed:1. Scoring the paper

Use the corner of a wallpaper scraper to score the wallpaper all over. Don’t press too hard, otherwise you’ll leave marks in the plaster. You can also use the flat edge of the wallpaper scraper to ‘skim’ over the woodchip surface. This knocks off some of the woodchip and allows more moisture to soak in.2. Soaking with wallpaper stripper

Sure you can use regular water to soak the surface of the wallpaper, but adding a splash of wallpaper stripper to your bucket ‘super-charges’ the water. I used a bottle of Everbuild wallpaper stripper and only needed 125ml in a gallon of water. That was plenty enough to soak all the walls of the living room. This means that I’ve got three quarters of the bottle left to do other rooms. Mix it into a bucket of water (following the instructions on the bottle) and use a large sponge to spread the foamy water over the wallpaper. Allow to soak in for 15 minutes – coincidentally the same length of time that it’ll take heat up your steamer.3. Steam the wallpaper

Fill the steamer with water and allow to heat up for 15 minutes. You don’t need an industrial or expensive steamer to do this job – the tool I’m using is the lowest priced steam I could find from FFX – the Earlex Steam Wallpaper Stripper. It gives me 70 minutes of steaming per fill, which is about the length of time it took to strip each wall. Hold the steamer to the wall and leave in place for about ten seconds. Move it onto the next section of the wall and hold in place while you scrap the first piece away.

4. Scrape away the woodchip layer

Use the flat edge of a stripping knife to scrape away the top layer of woodchip. You’ll get a speckled effect on the wallpaper as the bigger chunks of woodchip come off. This allows more steam to get into the wallpaper and make it easier to strip away from the wall. Give the wallpaper a second steaming before moving onto the stripping…

5. Strip off the woodchip

Push the wallpaper stripper tool beneath the wallpaper and lift it away from the wall. If you come across a stubborn piece of wallpaper, give it another blast with the steamer before scraping. I used a Stanley Hobby Stripping Knife to ease the woodchip off the wall.

From this (woodchip walls that look perfectly normal at a distance)

To this (a room that now looks like it should be on Homes Under The Hammer!)

And really, that’s all there is to it! Sort of the same as stripping normal wallpaper, but with a couple of important extra steps – the stripping solution and the scraping effect. I’ve made a quick video (shared below and on my new YouTube channel) to show you the whole process, step-by-step so that you can see exactly how we did it.

If you’ve found this helpful please ‘like’ my video or follow my new Cassiefairy channel on YouTube for more DIY projects and thrifty solutions.


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Round-up of my festive craft projects – there’s still time to make these quick DIYs!

I don’t know about you, but I’m about ready to hibernate for the whole of the Christmas period. Many of us are finishing work early this week and taking a few days to relax and finish off some festive tasks before the big day arrives. So if you’ve got some time on your hands this week, why not have a go at making some of my festive crafts? All of these projects can be completed within an hour, and you only need a few cheap supplies (that you may already have at home) in order to get started. These are some of my favourite projects I’ve made for my own home, so have a look and let me know if you have a go at making any of these for yourself.cassiefairy-thrifty-christmas-snow-sign-project-diy-mantlepiece-christmas-decoration-festive-decor-24I’ve recently just made my first two festive YouTube DIY videos – each is a step-by-step project that can be made in no time at all. First up is my pom-pom ‘SNOW’ sign for the mantlepiece, shelf or windowsill. It’s a cute decoration that isn’t OTT festive, but that has a fun tongue-in-cheek design with tiny skiing figures sliding down the letters. This week I also shared a video that shows you how to add candy cane legs to your chairs. If you’re planning to paint your chairs next year anyway, why not give them a festive design for the coming week and then paint over them again in the new year? Or make a dedicated Santa seat so that he’s got somewhere to rest when he comes down the chimney this weekend 😉diy-video-youtube-tutorial-christmas-decor-decoration-festive-candy-cane-chair-step-by-step-project-spray-painting-guide-7I don’t think it’s any secret that I really like pom-pom, so you won’t be surprised to see another snowy decoration project up next. This one is a ‘snow drift’ Christmas wreath for your front door. It has a little penguin skiing down the pom-pom snowballs and looks really cute on my caravan door. Deck the Door DIY snow ball christmas wreath-13I also made another wreath for my caravan using upcycled pieces of clothing, ribbons and fabric. Here’s the step-by-step guide to making this fluffy fabric Christmas wreath so check it out and use up the old scraps of fabric you already have lying around. I’m really chuffed that this project was featured in Oxfam’s Christmas newspaper too!DIY fabric wreath for Christmas - step by step tutorial-9Why not decorate every room in the house with a festive piece of art? I framed up some free printables to make this gallery wall of snowy chalkboard Christmas art. With a printer and some frames, you could have a lovely festive wall to welcome your guests into your home.DIY festive decorating with christmas art prints using hardwall takkerMake a rustic illuminated christmas basket decoration to brighten up your porch, fireplace or garden. Simply gather nature’s decorations – pine cones, holly and spruce – and add in plenty of sparkly touches to make it look really festive. The basket helps to make your home look more inviting from the outside and can add warmth to an unused fireplace too.diy craft tutorial christmas decorations log basket xmas porch with fairy lights finished displayIf you’re looking for another idea for bringing more fairy lights into your home, how about making my snow-covered kilner jar lanterns? It’s such a simple project and it can be made in minutes, but the group of jars makes for a really impressive display on your sideboard, mantlepiece or even on a bedside table.DIY fairy lights kilner jar display for christmas-5A couple of years ago I made this snowy garland using pom-poms (again!), faux flowers and hanging decorations. It looks great on a mantlepiece, or you could make it as long as you need in order to drape it down the handrail of your staircase. Use whatever decorations you have to hand and feel free to change the colour combo to red and green or gold and silver.DIY christmas decoration mantlepiece garland ideas-11I hope that these ideas have given you some inspiration for making a few craft items of your own in time for the big day. And I hope you enjoy the run up to Christmas – this is the best time of the whole holiday for me!


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DIY Gifts Video – Step-by-step camera case sewing project

Over the past month I’ve been busier than an elf in Santas workshop – yes, I’ve been DIYing lots of festive projects ready to share with you on the blog this December. And what better way to kick off the month than with a simple gift project – a felt camera case.felt-camera-case-sewing-project-easy-diy-tutorialThis easy-sew project lets you create a custom-made case for your specific camera, with no difficult measuring or pattern-making. In fact, it couldn’t be easier – you simply lie the camera on the piece of felt, pin the pouch in place and stitch it up!diy-video-project-easy-sew-sewing-felt-camera-case-gift-present-youtube-14I use straight stitch throughout the project so this can easily be done by hand or on a sewing machine. The fastening is sticky-backed velcro dots so no need to make a difficult button-hole, and the button I stitch onto the front flap is purely decorative, so you could even give this step a miss if you want to make the project even easier.diy-video-project-easy-sew-sewing-felt-camera-case-gift-present-youtube-1-2All you need to make this quick and easy project is a piece of felt, pins, a needle and thread (or sewing machine), a button, velcro dots, a ruler and scissors. All the instructions are on the video so have a watch and pause (or rewind) the tutorial whenever you need to. And once you’ve got the basics, you can easily adapt this case to fit other things too; ipads, make-up, mobile phones and so on.diy-video-project-easy-sew-sewing-felt-camera-case-gift-present-youtube-2

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Thrifty fashion ~ DIY winter hat with bow & pom-poms

At this time of year the weather is cold, wet and sometimes snowy, and watching the Winter Olympics has got me thinking about wrapping up warm. So this week my thoughts have turned to making a nice cosy knitted hat to keep my head warm without having to spend a fortune on a trendy hat on the high street. You may already have the skills to be able to knit your own beanie, but I’m a novice knitter so I used a plain grey beanie hat that I already had in my ‘winter-wear’ box. Although it does the job of keeping me warm, it’s not particularly on-trend and, quite frankly, a bit boring for me.  A light-bulb pinged on in my head that I could just add a little knitted bow or a couple of contrasting pom-poms to my hat in order to funk it up and make it unique – and for a fraction of the cost of a store-bought hat! You could pick up a second-hand beanie hat from a charity shop or car boot sale to work your magic on or ask around to see if any of your family have an old one they no longer need that you could upcycle.

You will need: Wool, knitting needles, darning needle, hat, scissors

DIY thrifty fashion knitted bow accessory step by step instructions

To make the bow: Cast on a row of 10 or 12 stitches and continue to knit a length (like a thin scarf) which is approximately the width of your hat. Cast off and fold the length in half. Use the darning needle to stitch the ends together and turn the loop inside out. With the stitched ends in the centre of the bow, wrap a length of wool around the centre to make the middle of the bow and tuck the end in. Use more wool and the darning needle to stitch the bow to the hat. I wanted quite a big bow in a matching colour but you can easily make a smaller bow or recreate it in a brightly coloured wool.

I’d recommend watching a step-by-step video on how to knit this bow, which includes instructions for casting on and off as well as stitching the bow together, which my friend and fellow blogger Laurie’s has made – here’s the link to her knitting tutorial video on YouTube. If you would like to make a smaller bow (just like Laurie has in the video, which can be used as a brooch or hair clip too!) simply reduce the length of the knitting or choose a smaller size of knitting needle.

DIY thrifty fashion pom pom hat step by step

To make the pom-poms: Wrap the wool around your hand until it is thick and puffy. Slide the loop of wool off your hand and wrap a piece of wool around the centre, pulling it tight and knotting it in the middle, leaving the ends trailing. Use the scissors to cut through the looped ends of the pom-pom and fluff it out. Thread the trailing ends of the central piece of wool through the darning needle and stitch it to the hat, either on the top, or use a second pom-pom on the sides to create ‘ears’!

You can use matching wool or contrasting colours for your bows and pom-poms. Let me know if you have a go at making your own DIY woolly embellishments to make unique accessories – and why not give them as gifts to your friends? They will love to receive a personalized hat that no one else will have – plus the amount of time and love you have put into embellishing the hat will show them how much they mean to you!

I am a volunteer DIY blogger for Oxfam and I’m sharing this step-by-step tutorial over on the Oxfam Fashion blog too – plus there are plenty more excellent thrifty fashion projects by all the other lovely Oxfam bloggers so please check it out!


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The countdown to Valentine’s Day begins

Okay, okay I know it’s not Christmas (although looking at the OTT shop displays at this time of year you’d be forgiven for believing otherwise) but I think, in my own selfish way, that Valentines Day is an important gift-giving occasion (hubby, this is a hint for you..!). In fact, it’s the only thing that gets me through January – looking forward to the outpouring of love that February brings. I know I’ve been super-spoilt on my birthday in December and again at Christmas, but I am someone who relies on these special occasions to get the kind of treats that some people buy for themselves all year round. Essentials like bubblebath, books and bed-socks – these are the kind of things that I wait until Valentines, Easter, Birthdays or Christmas for. I don’t buy treats or gifts or anything much for myself during the year and I want my Valentine to spoil me like the sulky little brat I really am! And it goes the other way too. Mr Fairy (hmm, must work on the husband nickname…) doesn’t buy anything much for himself either and I love to buy him treats and goodies. The fact that I went a little overboard with Christmas this year (due to a lot of early buying, wrapping and then forgetting that I’d already bought something) means that there’s not much else on my fella’s wishlist that I can get for him. Plus everyone is strapped for cash at this time of year, am I right?

knitted heart found on a doorknob in cambridge

I saw this knitted heart hanging from a doorknob while walking through Cambridge, so cute!

So if you are trying to woo someone this Valentines Day or if you just want to cheer up your partner after a rotten grey January you might want to read on. Because once again it has snuck up on me and I really DO want to give my husband a lovely Valentines Day but what do I do with less than week to go? What shall we all do for Valentines Day? Here are some of the treats that you can make yourself at home and the links to the tutorial pages on my blog:

valentines day craft sewing card with stitched lettering and heart motif

Make a hand-stitched card for your valentine – this is the one I made for my husband last year

red love heart nails for valentines day nail art polish

Paint your nails with a cute heart design – here’s my mini-tutorial on how to get the perfect heart shape

Jam tart heart cake recipe valentines day

They say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach (or mine for that matter) – Here’s my recipe for love heart jam tarts

And finally, what about Valentine’s Day activities or that special night out? We have spent a bit of time doing research online this week to try to find somewhere to have a proper Valentine’s date – something that we’ve never done before. Of course we’ve spent time together on Valentine’s Day but have never gone out for one of those 3-courses-Valentines-special meals that all the resturants nearby are advertising. However, I think we might have to scratch that idea because all of the ‘special offers’ I’ve come across would mean spending a small fortune and quite frankly I’d rather buy a new gate for the back garden. So I am taking my own advice about free and cheap date ideas for Valentine’s Day and beyond that I published on the blog last year – check it out here  and hopefully I’ll be doing one of these ideas this year!

Lastly, if you want to communicate your feelings towards your Valentine in more ways than one, here’s a little video from the Makaton Charity, which has been helping me to learn Makaton over the past couple of years, showing the signs for boyfriend, girlfriend, cuddle, date, surprise, friends, February and much more – I can’t believe I didn’t know the sign for ‘kiss’ until I watched it!

I


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It’s all over… The London 20120 Olympics closing ceremony & fireworks video

I’m sad to say that the London 2012 Olympics are all over. This has been an amazing 16 days since the opening ceremony and I enjoyed the game more than I ever thought possible. As the least sporty person you’d ever meet, and as the kind of person who turns over the TV if a sport is on, I even surprised myself at how much I enjoyed the Olympics. Was it just because it was held in the UK? I’ll have to watch Rio and find out. Was it just because Team GB were achieving amazing medals in practically every event? Maybe, because I certainly got into the whole ‘shouting-at-the-telly’ excitement of a GB athlete crossing the finishing line. 

Whatever it was, I was gripped throughout the whole Olympic Games and the closing ceremony was bittersweet. I enjoyed the performances (Spice Girls come back!) but had a tear in my eye at more than one point throughout the ceremony. I did not want that Olympic flame to be extinguished! But I couldn’t stop it, and as the London 2012 Olympics raced to a close, I felt proud and a little smug that (in my eyes at least) our Olympics had been the best yet.

Here’s the explosive fireworks at the end of the closing ceremony – and if you haven’t seen the whole event yet, do check it out on iPlayer because it was amazing! And bring on the Paralympics!

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