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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Saving money this winter – tips for home, wardrobe & cooking

If you are living on a tight budget, each season brings its own challenges and I think that winter might be one of the most difficult. During this season one of the biggest issues homeowners face is finding the money to pay for higher-than-usual power bills. We all know that it’s likely that we’ll be using more fuel and power in the winter; it’s cold, so we have to put the heating on. In addition, the fact that the days are shorter and we usually end up spending more time at home means higher electric bills too. We tend to have the lights and electronics, like the TV, on more. Fortunately, there are ways to keep the bills down, so that you don’t get a massive shock when the gas or electric bill arrives in three months time and here’s what I’ve come up with…Insulate, insulate, insulate

And I’m not just talking about in your loft. It’s draughts that zaps the heat from your home at this time of year but you can stop them today. Getting draught excluders for your doors is a really easy and cheap way to stop heat leakage. Make your own using just a towel and a fold of fabric – here’s my DIY draught excluder project  (I used an old fleece blanket to fill mine) so have a go at making one for yourself and stop that draught now! While it’s not a great idea to not open your windows at all in the winter (the stale air and condensation is a breeding ground for mould, ick!) there will be windows in some rooms that aren’t usually opened anyway. These windows can be insulated using a thin film of plastic that is specifically made to block out any draughts. These kits are widely available and extremely easy to install. In the summer you can remove the film and  you can go back to opening and closing your windows as normal.Knitted layers

Usually if you wear a jumper and a pair of cosy slippers around the house, you can get away with turning your heating down by several degrees. Doing so can save you a lot of money and on average you will save 2% for every degree lower you go. I know it’s kind of the norm to be able to just wear a t- indoors, but I think you should dress as if you’re going outside. In winter you’d usually wear more than just the one layer to go outside and if you wear the same indoors too you’ll definitely be able to turn down the heating. Knitting scarves and big chunky blankets for everyone is a fun winter project, which will soon pay for itself in the extra warmth you’ll all enjoy. Crocheted throws are great for snuggling up under while you watch a movie or play video games when the weather’s bad outside.Slow cooking Continue reading “Saving money this winter – tips for home, wardrobe & cooking” »


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Thrifty winter wedding outfit ideas

Being invited to a wedding always lifts my spirits. It means that one, often two, of my friends have found happiness, and are ready to settle down to a life together. It also means a party, a chance to meet up with old friends and family, dress up, and generally have a good time. Weddings really are wonderful, regardless of what time of the year they are held, but there is something extra special about a winter wedding.Wedding outfit in winterThe fact that few people get married in the colder months makes them occasions that are even more memorable. Winter weddings are a bright spot in what is often a grey and bland time of the year. As a result, I really look forward to them, but there is one issue, and that is finding something suitable to wear. For some reason, buying dresses for weddings in the winter months is nowhere near as easy as it is during the summer. I am not exactly sure why that is. Perhaps retailers are responding to the fact that demand for wedding outfits is not as strong as it is during the hotter months. However, if you know where to look, and think outside the box it is possible to find something suitable, and do so even if you are on a tight budget.

A long dress allows you to wear thick tights or even thermal leggings underneath for warmth!

A long dress allows you to wear thick tights or even thermal leggings underneath for warmth!

Rework what you have

If you have recently attended a Christmas or New Year’s Eve party, there is a good chance that you will already own something that is suitable. Often you can adapt a party dress and make it work for a wedding. This is especially the case if you will be attending an evening reception. The chances are during the ceremony you will be wearing a wrap, or coat to stay warm so a party style dress will not necessarily look out of place. Making the wrap yourself from a length of coordinating fabric is an easy way of keeping the cost of your outfit down, and ensuring that you end up with something that fits in properly with your dress.

A slip and tights make it possible to wear even the prettiest summer dress to a winter wedding

A slip and tights make it possible to wear even the prettiest summer dress to a winter wedding

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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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Top Winter Hat Tips – We’ve Got You Covered

It’s time to bundle up for winter but first use your head about what’s covering your head. All winter gear isn’t created equally. Here is what you need to know to help you stay snug and warm this winter. Whether you want to keep warm during casual trips to shops, while exercising outdoors, or are addressing a special need like hats for thinning hair, here is what you need to know to keep warm and cosy this winter.pom-pom-hat-beanie-knitting-pattern-mollie-makes

Knit your own with this bobble hat pattern by Mollie Makes

Fit for winter

Headwear can make a huge difference in keeping warm during the winter. Even if you are simply dashing between your car and the store or from one heating building to another, staying warm is important. Even indoors drafts and irregular heating can make it important to keep your head warm. A large portion of your body heat can be lost through your head.

If you’ll be outside in the cold for more than a few minutes, it’s important that your headwear covers your ears. Ears are thin but have a relatively large surface area. This increases the risk of heat loss and even frostbite.

If you’ll be enjoying outdoor sports this winter, it is important to get the appropriate headwear. Hats for running, hiking, and skiing and other outdoor sports need to combine comfort, fit, warmth, and an ability to handle sweat. Choose a longer style hat that will cover your forehead and ears without riding up as you run. You want to make sure the headwear is snug enough to stay in place while you exercise without being too tight or creeping out of place. If you’ll be out in extreme conditions, consider wearing a balaclava. This style of knit cap covers most of the face and neck as well as the head. It can even be worn under a hat or beanie for added warmth. crochet-bobble-hat-pattern-mollie-makes-45

Here’s a Mollie Makes crochet pattern to make your own slouchy hat

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Create a lookbook to get the most out of your wardrobe this winter

Winter is the time for festivities and celebrations and is a great excuse to get dressed up in your sparkliest clothes. It’s also the time of the year when you’ve just splashed your pay cheque on presents for your nearest and dearest so are unlikely to want to spend much more on a new winter wardrobe. Read on to find out how you can save money on new clothing this season, as well as creating your own lookbook to make the most of your existing wardrobe.thrifty wardrobe makeover tip money saving inspiration hack-3Create your own lookbook
It’s easy to forget what clothes you already have in your wardrobe, especially if it’s been stuffed to bursting point for the past couple of years. So to avoid leaving pieces unworn for seasons why not create your own personal lookbook? It can be quite fun to make up outfits, and it’s got a certain Cher-from-Clueless-ness about it! For this, you’ll need to take snaps of each item in your wardrobe and categorize them into different types. You can even style up your summer dresses or a short sleeved shirt with a jacket, cardigan, blazer or tights for winter and get maximum use out of your favourite pieces. Unlike in the Clueless era, nowadays it’s possible to download apps which can help you create and organize your lookbook. Keeping photos of your clothes on your phone will also help you when you’re out shopping because you can double check whether or not you’ve already got a monochrome patterned shirt in your wardrobe at home and save on duplicates.crazy for christmas jumpers

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Tuesday Shoesday – No shoes, but a new satchel

I’ve decided to write about my new handbag for this week’s Tuesday Shoesday blog post. Okay, I know it’s not strictly a shoesday post without any shoes, but the handbag did come from shoe brand Hotter, so I think it’s the ideal time to talk about handbags.handbag-wine-burgundy-satchel-bag-retro-school-crossbody-1-of-3Now, I’m not someone who will buy a new handbag just because I like the look of it, or because it matches an outfit or follows a new trend. In fact, I don’t buy bags very often at all. I don’t have a different bag for every occasion or for different seasons. Nope, I tend to choose one bag and that one bag will do me very nicely until it falls apart. And that’s when I’ll buy another one.handbag-wine-burgundy-satchel-bag-retro-school-crossbody-2-of-3You may have guessed from this that I don’t see handbags as a fashion accessory. I see them as purely practical; something to carry my important stuff from one place to another. I’m not saying that it doesn’t matter at all what the handbag looks like, because I have my preferences in the looks department too. But most important is that it can fit everything in, with lots of pockets and is easy to carry. handbag-wine-burgundy-satchel-bag-retro-school-crossbody-3-of-3My last two handbags have been Disaster Designs satchels. The first one I tried was the best. I really liked how it looked, with a map-print design and brown faux-leather flap. It was big enough to fit in everything I needed to carry, even notepads and ipads could fit in there. In fact, it was a little too big at times – if I only needed to carry a purse, it seemed to get lost in the vast space inside the bag, swishing around like a teabag in a bucket. But it lasted for years. I’m taking maybe 2-3 years before it finally started coming apart. I’d already ruined the lining with a leaky pen and plenty of spilled makeup by this point, but I was still sad to see it go.Whats in blogger Cassiefairys handbag-1

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How to be happy (and cosy!) this winter

Winter is coming, and it’s time to think about ways to stay cosy and, more importantly, happy during the winter. With cold weather and long dark nights (and sometimes days) it’s no surprise that many of us start to feel a little down when December comes. But don’t worry – that seasonal slump can be overcome with a couple of simple solutions. Plus, you can stay warm in your home (without forking out on energy bills) with just a few easy adjustments.winter interior design - cosy autumn bedroom styling idea inspiration festive-3 Our grandparents used to say “just put on an extra layer” to stay warm in the winter. But there are many other practical things you can do that don’t cost much but that will make a difference to the size of your heating bill in the new year. There’s nothing worse than a surprise energy bill dropping onto your door mat! It’s time to get used to lowering the thermostat to a level that keeps everyone comfortable but doesn’t end up creating a sauna effect,. Here are some tips to help you make it through the winter in comfort and with a smile on your face.Orange Tweed Mill Blanket Knitted Wool Throw Tartan grey sofa retro dralon cushion 60s 70sPile on the blankets Nighttime means everyone’s in bed and pets have found their warm spots for the night, so you can turn the thermostat down a few degrees without anyone realising that it’s cooler in the house. Increasing the temperature warms the entire home, which is essentially wasting energy, as no one’s moving around at night to benefit from the warmth. It’s also a great excuse to snuggle up under layers of duvets and wooly blankets. Well, I’d much rather tuck myself under a cosy throw when I’m reading on the sofa in the evenings than turn up the heating – it just feels so ‘hygge’! Bring back hot water bottles too (or microwave heat pads) to warm your body all evening long. It’s much more efficient to heat a relatively small surface area than to raise the temperature of the whole building. cats can sleep anywhere - wheres the weirdest place you can sleep-2Combat SAD

Being comfortable in winter isn’t just about warmth and saving money. If you or a family member suffers from seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, you can help deal with this troubling subset of depression through activities such as sitting near sunny windows, planning more outdoor time, and using light therapy. It’s easy to wake up in the dark, work indoors all day and then come home in the dark. In fact, I read that the average British worker will only see 52 minutes of daylight in a working week, so make the effort to get outside on your lunch break (no matter how cold it is!) to make sure you get the benefits of daylight while it’s there.autumn colours and leather boots-6Seal those windows

No matter how new or highly rated your windows are, you can expect a bit of air exchange. When you know you’re going to close the windows for the last time until spring, use a temporary caulking material to seal the sash. You’re closing off the small gap that never quite seals all the way and lets air in. The temporary caulk can be easily removed when you want to open up the window again, and it won’t ruin the material the windows are made from. If you have older windows, go over the existing caulk and look for crumbling and/or peeling caulk. Remove this caulk carefully, and then lay in a fresh, new bead and let it dry. You’re creating a new seal that won’t let air in under any circumstances.cats can sleep anywhere - wheres the weirdest place youve sleptEngage in zone heating

Zone heating is the act of heating one or two rooms and closing off unused rooms. If you find that you’re not going into some rooms very often, close them off by shutting the door and turning down the radiators. You do want to make sure the room gets some heat in order to keep it dry. The heating that would normally go into that room is diverted into rooms with turned on radiators, keeping them at a comfortable temperature. You can also use plug-in electric and oil heaters to keep a room warm while you’re using the space, but make sure to follow safety precautions at all times and unplug when you go to bed.Orange Tweed Mill Blanket Knitted Wool Throw Tartan greyYou don’t have to turn your home into a refrigerator to save money on heating costs this winter. These are just some of the ways to help you stay comfortable (and happy!) without having to go to extreme settings on your thermostat or getting a scary energy bill in the new year. Let me know your own tips for staying warm in the winter and tell me what you get up to in order to keep that smile on your face during even the darkest winter days – leave me a comment below to share your ideas or tweet me @cassiefairy to chat.


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Tuesday Shoesday – The Soft Texture Trend

This Tuesday Shoesday I want to talk about one of my favourite new trends for A/W16 – textured shoes. I’m talking suede, velvet or even crushed velvet being used to decorate even the daintiest of sandals. It’s not just about chunky suede boots this year (although I did already invest in a lovely pair of suede boots that go with everything for Autumn), tiny pumps, classy court shoes, platforms and strappy sandals have all been given the textured treatment.fashion-green-blue-turquoise-suede-shoes-platforms-winter-footwear-trend

I first spotted the textured trend on Pinterest here and here.

I think it’s the soft texture that makes them feel suitable for this time of year – its as though the texture makes them feel more cosy. Even though the shoes might be dainty or strappy and totally unsuitable for cold days, the soft texture gives the impression of warmth. Plus, it looks great with party dresses and wooly suits alike, so will fit in with your winter wardrobe seamlessly.fashion-muted-nude-suede-work-court-shoes-winter-velvet-footwear-trend

I found the ideal office-to-cocktail-bar shoes on Pinterest here and here.

The textured fabric seems to lend a vintage feeling to most styles of shoes. The slightly muted colours created by a brushed suede or crushed velvet fabric resemble the faded hues in an old photograph. I really like this effect and, as a vintage girl at heart, it makes me want to invest in textured shoes even more to get that 70s vibe. I spotted these retro-inspired t-bar shoes below and fell in love.fashion-gucci-dream-vintage-retro-trend-suede-velvet-shoes-footwear

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Easy ways to add a touch of hygge to your home

It’s that time of year again. The clocks have gone back an hour to remind us that winter is almost here and Christmas is very much around the corner. For many people, this means rushing around the shops trying to find the perfect Christmas gifts, but for others it means hosting parties and get-togethers. What better way to welcome your guests this year than by giving your home a seasonal makeover, adding some much-needed warmth to the chilly months? I love the Danish concept of hygge and tips on how to achieve this everywhere this year so why not embrace the trend and cosy up? I hope the tips in this post help to get you in the festive mood, even though it is only November..!scandinavian-christmas-cosy-room

Take inspiration from Scandinavia and embrace hygge to create welcoming home

cosy-living-room-warm-home-decor-christmas-winter-hyggeThe Living Room

The trend I see in every interior design magazine and every homewares shop window these days is the Scandinavian trend. Think simple, rustic, cosy log cabins for this look; add some colour-coordinated fur throws and lavish rugs to your living area, and then swap your sleek metal and glass for some natural wood furnishings instead. This trend came about from embracing hygge, so it’s all about comfort and creating that tranquil, relaxed atmosphere that people crave from a holiday in the Alps this time of year. Hygge is about appreciating the good things in life with great company, in a warm and relaxed environment. Get the ambience right in your home and any guests who enter will never want to leave!festive bathroom touches accessories towels-5 festive bathroom touches accessories towels-10

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A low-cost way to decorate your walls for autumn

Today’s blog is a quick and easy decor update that can make your home feel really autumnal in a matter of minutes. And you don’t need to spend loads of money on new soft furnishings, or hours crafting a garland, or days painting your walls to add a touch of autumn colour to your home. My idea for a speedy interiors update is adding art to your walls to completely change the feeling of your space in no time.posterlounge_autumn-2In particular, I’m talking about a more budget version of art – using posters. Sure you blu-tacked up posters to your bedroom walls in your teenage years but have you ever used them since? After browsing online and finding plenty of sensational artworks in bold autumn hues, I’ve become a fan of the humble poster. And they’re really great value for money too. How else can you update your home decor in such a striking way with a very little budget?posterlounge_autumn-4 Of course, you can frame up posters and elevate their status to true artwork, but you could also simply stick them up in your office with washitape and get the same effect. I really love the moon-phase design below, this would be the perfect addition to my bedroom to bring a touch of warmth into the room for autumn. And when the season is over, you can roll the posters up, pop them back in their delivery tube and switch over to a new fresh design for spring. Poster tubes take up hardly any space and your favourite design will be ready for you to re-hang again the following autumn. Sounds good, doesn’t it?posterlounge_autumn-5For autumn, I’ve been really drawn towards gold, copper and brass touches and have picked out the designs for this blog post as my suggestions for autumn 2016. I tend to lean towards a monochrome palette at all times of year, with bursts of colour to reflect the season. I love gold for autumn and I think it works well into winter too as we fill our homes with glittering gold decorations. And, of course, woodland scenes like this artwork below evoke a lovely autumnal feeling without feeling twee. posterlounge_autumn-3 Continue reading “A low-cost way to decorate your walls for autumn” »

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