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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2 essentials for a workspace that sparks creativity

I’m just about to start planning my office (did you catch my blog post on the ergonomics of working from home?) so I’ve been doing my research into what makes a good workspace. Earlier this week I shared some photos of the offices of my favourite bloggers and now I’m taking inspiration from creative professionals in order to identify what I need (and don’t need!) to make my home studio a productive space to work.

A 2014 report commissioned by the Nordic Council of Ministers found that our physical surroundings can have a huge impact on how much work we get done. And this was the same in all four countries assessed (Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway if you were curious). Consequently, it is fair to say that our working environment can have a dramatic effect on our mood. In order to ensure that your own office area sparks your creativity, here are the two things you need for a beautiful workspace.

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner’s home office

1. Natural light and plants

Whether you’re looking to create the grandeur of a Victorian study or to relax in a sleek, modern home office, studies suggest that a workspace should always have natural light and plants. Plants increase the level of oxygen in a workspace whilst natural light is instrumental in allowing people to think with a clear head. An example of a workspace that makes excellent use of natural light comes from the creator of cult show Mad Men (above).

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Learning a new skill in 2017 – Knitting

While many people make resolutions at the start of a new year, I prefer to focus on the new things I want to achieve over the coming month. And in particular this includes new skills. In fact, there’s two occasions during the year that I tend to take up new activities and it happens to coincide with the academic terms in September and January. Maybe that’s because it’s easier to find evening classes starting up and online courses are being promoted more at those times of year, but mostly I just think it’s down to me having a bit of time off and having the chance to reflect on what new things I want to learn.ombre colour block scarf knitting project-4In September I started to learn Spanish but time constraints meant that I never quite got through all the practice tasks for the beginners’ Spanish lessons so I couldn’t progress at the same speed as the rest of the course. Nonetheless, I have all the documents and workshops sitting in my inbox so I can get started up again whenever I get some time. I guess I’ve just got to make time, right?!ombre colour block scarf knitting project-5The other course I started in September was ballroom dancing. I went along to my first class on a dark Thursday evening and was immediately hooked. Well, who doesn’t want to be waltzed around a dance floor like a princess, eh? The added bonus was that latin dances were taught alongside the traditional foxtrot and quickstep ballroom dances, so I discovered that I quite liked these too. Who would’ve thought that I would enjoy dancing a rumba? I certainly didn’t see that coming! The beginners’ course has just finished and I loved getting my head around the steps. I’ll be back for more as soon as I can.ombre colour block scarf knitting project-10So this January I want to focus on developing my crafting skills and it’s the wool-crafts that I want to focus on. Excuse the pun but knitting has always had me tied up in knots. Continue reading “Learning a new skill in 2017 – Knitting” »


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How to re-fashion your wardrobe this weekend

What are your plans for the weekend? Not all that busy? Well I’ve just found out about something that I’d love you to get involved with. A series of special events is taking place in and around London this weekend and, if you’re anything like me, I think you’d love to go to some (or all!) of it.  Yes, if you’re a thrifty-minded soul with a love of fashion (and all things earth-friendy) I know you’re going to love this…Coloured threads Hands knitting_RefashionEastSo, what on earth am I talking about? Well, this weekend the social change charity Hubbub are teaming up with the fabulous gang at Rags Revival to host a series of re-fashion events. Any idea what that means? I had no clue until I started looking into it; the re-fashion events are a social experiment to encourage and help people extend the life of their clothes, through a series of exciting workshops and fun clothes-swapping events. The events will take place across the weekends of 23rd and 24th January as well as the 30th and 31st January 2016 and, best of all, the experiment is a success and enough people head to these fun activities, the re-fashion events will be rolled out nationally. Embroidery_RefashionEastswishing image 9 janThe fact that 1/3 of our wardrobes remain unworn is one of those ‘urban myths’ yet Hubbub has confirmed that it’s true! According to new research from Hubbub the underused clothing lurking in our wardrobes is worth £30billion, and that’s a figure that has really shocked this thrifty gal! I admit, I too have a few things in my wardrobe that I never wear so why am I hanging on to them when someone else could be enjoying them? I honestly don’t know! A clothes-swapping event would be ideal for having a clear out and getting some new outfits for the new year without exchanging cash. That’s especially brilliant considering that payday still feels far away!

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How much does it cost to go “back-to-school”?

I know that Spring is traditionally the season of new beginnings but I think that autumn holds some of the same magic too. Starting in September, specifically on the 23rd this year, autumn is the ideal time to start a new project or try out something new. There’s a sense of optimism in the air, everything is covered in a warm autumnal glow and with the Christmas holidays only a couple of months away everyone is looking forward. Perhaps that’s the reason why so many courses begin in the autumn term rather than January? Whether you’ve started a new adventure at university, signed up for a leisure learning evening class or have just begun a new academic year at school, it’s an exciting time and one that I look forward to every year.back to school new term autumn blog project-3I’m not always starting a new course (although, I’ve been a student on-and-off for 22 years if you count school!) but I still get rather excited at this time of year. It’s the ‘back to school’ adverts that make me reminisce about the excitement of a new school term and I can’t help wanting to study something. I might be in the minority – I know a lot of people who would rather never write an essay again – but I guess that’s the writer in me coming out. I love the idea of getting stuck into a new subject, starting a project or learning something new and even though I’ve not signed up for any courses this year, I am planning to take a couple of workshops.back to school new term autumn blog project-2Just seeing school supplies landing on the shelves of high street stores in August reels me in, and I inevitably start buying more stationary than I have all year. Why would I ever need a protractor kit? Okay, I don’t. But I kind of want one. I must have really enjoyed school as a child because just the sight of a pencil case makes me want to start a history project on ‘The Tudors’. I bought notebooks, a set of pens, new scissors and a circle cutter (below, I don’t know why?!) when I nipped out to buy a birthday card last month. Oops. But what about the people who do need it? The students. What were they buying this academic year?back to school new term autumn blog project-4

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My fun weekend at Blogstock 2014

I’ve just got home from one of the best festivals I’ve ever been to. It wasn’t a big festival, it wasn’t rowdy and – most importantly – it wasn’t muddy! But it was just right for a happy bunch of bloggers who traipsed out to Elstree this weekend where Aldenham Country Park played host the the worlds first blogging festival: Blogstock 2014.

blockstock 2014_-8

I was thrilled when Hertz invited me to camp with them and I jumped at the chance to attend this inaugural blogging event. I packed up my floral bag, bought festival food essentials (read: one Pot Noodle) and jumped in the car. Last Friday afternoon I was stood in middle of the arena, taking it all in; there was the Expedia VIP area where phone chargers and free drinks were available all day long; a PopChip stand with double-sized deck chairs and massive crisp-packet beanbags to chill out on (and all you-can-eat Pop-Chips of course!), the Fashion Galleries where most of the talks that I attended took place, a cosy tipi for informal workshops, the debate tent for lively sessions, the Lonely Planet photobooth (our late night-photos have been censored haha!) and a huge marquee hosting travel and foodie talks all weekend (and the inevitable late-night parties!). Despite being one of the first arrivals to the festival (what can I say? I’m prompt!) I knew this was going to be a great experience and when the Contiki shuttle bus arrived with 100s of happy campers, I skipped over to say hi.

It was the perfect occasion to wear my VIP-esque ‘You can’t sit with us’ t-shirt from WearAll

Here are some snaps of my home for the weekend in the #CampwithHertz village – check out the hashtag on Twitter and Instagram for everyone’s fabulous photos of our cosy glamping experience! As you all know, I love fairy lights and bunting so a big smile spread across my face when I saw the bell tents popping up perfectly decorated in festival fashion. After one-too-many wash-outs, I’m not a keen camper but walking into my bell tent completely changed my opinion of the camping experience; I had a cosy bed, embroidered cushions, a lantern, snacks, rug and it DID NOT LEAK! Even with a thunderstorm threatening to dampen our spirits on the Friday night, we all stayed cosy and dry under canvas and even snuck over to the marquee for a dance in our wellies!

Some of the noteworthy workshops that I attended were the fashion blogging talks, where I learnt about pitching ideas for magazine articles from fabulous freelance writer and editor Alison Perry and brand collaborations (thanks to Emma Hart from Push PR for all her advice!), and I had my questions answered about the blogging things I’d always wondered about but never had anyone to ask! Thankfully the gorgeous Jen Riley from the famous A Beauty Junkie in London blog was on hand during the Mode Media session to help me out with my affiliate link questions. The session discussed many ways of monetizing blogs and I found it all really helpful (Thanks Louise!) – I’ve added lots of future research to my ‘to do’ list!

fun at Blogstock 2014-5

Saturday morning brought more sunshine and an early morning session with Pinterest UK gurus Lizzie and Zoe who gave us all a delicious cooked breakfast to munch on while talking us through a whole host of Pinterest features that I’d never even heard of before! As a crazy-pin-addict, I was sooo surprised that there was even more I could be doing on Pinterest… that’s my summer gone then! Shortly afterwards, I grabbed my second breakfast of the day at the Nuffnang #blogstockbrunch – yoghurt, bananas, croissants, fruit juice, muesli – and met the creative folk behind this generous spread Jesse and Jean-Luc from Nuffnang UK. I had to scuttle off to a finance session but soon headed back to chat with them and find out more about their blog advertising community – the work they do is so interesting and I’m hoping that they will be able to give me some help and advice on some of the more technical elements of my blog that I am scared to edit in case my whole site comes crashing down!

The highlight of the weekend for me was the old-fashioned pop-up village fête that Generator Hostels hosted. Belen had invited me along to the #GenLove Generator Fair by email earlier in the week, so I was already looking forward to it, but it was even bigger and better than expected;  including a big bouncy castle (how do children jump around for hours? I was practically dying after two minutes!), coconut shy, Polaroid fancy dress, ice cream and popcorn. We had great fun whizzing around the Hertz race track trying to beat each other in lap time-trials, but my dress slowed down my attempt while I tried to keep my modesty (same problem on the bouncy castle, eek!) so I was easily lapped by the other competitors!

One of the best sessions I attended was ‘Join the Vlogosphere’ with rock-star vlogger Ceara McEvoy. I’d already watched some of her videos in the past so I knew just how fantastic she is, and I’ve never ever tried vlogging before so I was intrigued. After passing around a tray of biscuits Ceara talked us through the best equipment to use, camera settings, editing software and showed us some of her hilarious clips. I was so pleased that I went to the session, and I am definitely going to have a go at vlogging in the future – especially if Ceara is willing to give me a hand with my ambition to make cookery videos – I’d be a fool not to do it!

Personally, my top experiences of the weekend were meeting loads of fabulous bloggers and included mixing Appleton Rum cocktails with superstar blogger ReeRee Rockette from Rockalily whose blog I’ve read ever since I started writing (and who kicked butt in the end of festival debate!) and the stunning Megan from The Briar Rose Blog, one the inspirational bloggers that I re-pin the most on Pinterest and a fellow shortlister at the 2014 Cosmopolitan Blog Awards! We were all tested to the limit in the pub quiz and had fun dancing the night away while playing keepy-uppy with an inflatable globe. There are too many new friends to list here but please go and check out the blogs of Toris Tales, Cherishing the Cherry BlossomsTodds Travels, A Lady in London, Backpacks and Bunkbeds, Tigerlilly Quinn, Eat Like a Girl, Macca Sherifi to name but a few! 🙂

I’ve come away from the weekend with tons of ideas for my blog, a notebook full of tips, a whole stack of business cards from the wonderful people I met and an insatiable yearning for a bell tent of my own. I can’t wait to get started improving my blog (apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks!) and I am already counting down the days to the next Blogstock festival!


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How does your garden grow? My little vintage caravan

Last month I told you all about my plans for creating a gorgeous garden over the summer and so far we’ve managed to save a bit of money by thrifting a fence and doing a lot of digging to even out the undulating lawn. After finishing the construction of our new fence we could really see what kind of space we were working with so hubby and I decided to draw up some rough plans for the garden. I’m sure the design will change as we go along and will be mostly based on what we can afford to spend on the garden at the time. For now, there’s one thing that’s clear – we want to move my little vintage caravan into a new location at the bottom of the garden.

planning a new garden

It will be central to the lawn and should be easier for me to access with a path or stepping stones along the side of the grass – no more trekking over muddy ground to get into my caravan workshop anymore woo! Previously the caravan had just been sitting on the grass with a couple of paving slabs underneath the supporting legs. This ended up looking quite messy when the grass and weeds grew beneath the caravan because I couldn’t get underneath it with a mower nor could we move the caravan without help. So before we moved the caravan into the new location, we decided to lay down a base of weed-proof sheeting covered with wood chippings to keep down the grass and weeds, and we put the paving slabs in the corners to support the legs of the caravan.

After preparing the base, we got help from our family to move the caravan down the garden and into position alongside the new fence. It took quite bit of shoving, because the caravan had actually sunk into the ground in its original position and needed digging out a bit before we could get it rolling down the garden. We weren’t moving it far but we needed to be careful when manoeuvring it into position – we didn’t want to damage the fence we’d just put up or the fruit trees we’d planted!

We made sure the caravan was level but when we stepped back it looked completely wonky because there was a slope on the ground from left to right. This might be something to level out in the future (with a lot more digging!) but I don’t mind leaving it as it is for now. Eventually there will be a little patio outside the front of the caravan and the ground will have to be levelled out for this, so in the meantime I’m just going to grow a couple of pots of lavender at the front and hope that no one notices!


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Our car has a little garage…

When you start going outdoors more during the summer, you start to notice things that need doing around the garden. This is certainly the case with me; I’ve been weeding all weekend and have started making plans for some nice new flower beds. Hubby and I have also recently been given a garage so we’ve been spending time in the garden thinking about what we can do with it. Of course, the obvious thing is to park the car in it but then again we’ve never had a garage before and got by pretty well by parking our car on the driveway. It would be a different story if the garage were to be used to house a mini-cooper renovation project but that’s unlikely to happen in the near future!

DIY makeover ideas for this little old garage -1

The most likely use for the garage is storage but what hubby really wants for the garage is to use it as a workshop space. The kind of place that your granddad would have, with workbenches, saws and pliers hanging on the walls. The kind of workshop where everything has its place and where you can find everything you need: Want a hook? no problem! New hinge for a door? It’s right here! Need a shelf putting up? Just let me get my drill! That kind of workshop. We’ve attempted to sort out a workshop space before but it always gets filled up with stuff we need to store, carboot sale junk and things that we might need one day. But this time it will be different. And hubby will get that messy-yet-tidy space he’s always wanted so that he can play around with his Makita power tools and make things with his bare hands.

The only thing is that I’m a little bit worried about the garage itself. It’s in good condition and the roof doesn’t leak, it has guttering and a good pair of strong doors. But is it made of asbestos? Can we drill into the walls to hang storage units? Will we need to get in a specialist? I have no idea but I’ve been doing some research online through the websites of asbestos management services but I’m still not sure. All the people I’ve asked say it looks okay and should be fine as long as we’re not going to be dismantling it, which of course we are not. I’m just very over-cautious when it comes to things like this so for now I’m going to suggest that hubby doesn’t start drilling the walls and sticks to free-standing storage units!

I’ll share more photos of the inside of the garage when we start work on it and I’m hoping that it will turn out something like these amazing work-spaces that I’ve found on pinterest and pinned on my ‘garden’ board 😉

 


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Workshop number 2

If you’ve been reading my blog over the past few weeks you won’t have been able to miss the fact that I’m currently renovating an old caravan. I’m painstakingly replacing window trims and waterproofing skylights, decorating inside-and-out and looking for storage solutions so that I can use my caravan as a workshop. Yes, very soon I’ll be able to sit in my caravan to do all my sewing projects and to write my blog  and I can’t wait!

The only problem is that hubby has seen the transformation of caravan-to-office and he likes it. In fact, I think he’s getting a little jealous that I have a space of my own while he has no man-cave to speak of.  Okay, he’s got the shed where he shoves all his tools and junk and quickly closes the door before it all falls out again. But he’s got no workspace, and for an artist, that’s pretty bad new. And not just for him; it’s bad news for me too, as paper and brushes and materials are strewn about the living room whenever he wants to make a piece of work. So really, he needs a workspace and that’s where our story starts…

Not content with the ample size of a caravan, hubby wants a serious workshop. It’s going to take up half the garden, or so he says, and it will be insulated, with a proper roof and heating. It will basically be another room in the garden, but with the title ‘man cave’. While he insists that my caravan looks cute and retro, apparently another caravan in the garden will look ‘messy’ and simply would not do. No, he wants double glazing, VELUX® windows and a sturdy door. Possibly even a door mat. This really is going to be a second home, isn’t it?

moodboard for art studio building including VELUX windows office

So before we’ve even finished work on my caravan, I’ve started gathering inspiration from all over the Internet – you know me, I love a mood board! So here are a few of the ideas (above) that I’ve come up with for hubby’s workshop-to-be and you can find the photo sources directly on our shared ‘man cave’ board on Pinterest. I’ve used images in cooperation with VELUX online after browsing their range of windows to get ideas for hubby’s workshop. Despite his ‘technical’ drawings of the building, and even an artist’s impression that he showed me yesterday, I still think might be a long time before he actually gets round to building it… And do we really want to be starting another project right now? at this time of year? when it’s cold outside?? I’m thinking no, but hubby is thinking go, go, GO!

So what do you think of our ideas? Do you think a bit of man space is essential? I know I’m loving having my girly world in my caravan, so perhaps he needs his own space as much as I do? Well see how this project goes and of course I will keep you updated!

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My little vintage caravan project ~ A fresh start with a new look

If you’ve not already read about my new caravan workshop project, please have a read of how I came across my little caravan (and all about clearing it out in preparation for painting) the links are below. I like the shape of my caravan – I think it’s small and round and cute, but I don’t really care for the colour. It’s white on the sides, cream above and below and orange at the ends. In fact, the orange was the only bit that I liked – but unfortunately it was mostly rubbed off and worn away. When I cleaned my caravan for the first time, quite a lot of the orange disappeared and I was left with a mottled mess (you can actually see the aluminium coming through on the orange section in the photo below!). So that was my decision made for me. It had to go.

cassiefairys vintage caravan project original photos of sprite

Seeing as I’m not planning a retro restoration, I decided that now would be the time to start afresh and choose a new colour. As I was cleaning the caravan I also removed a lot of green gunge from the surfaces and in the end, the cream sections didn’t look too bad, so I decided to keep these cream (and the little cream ‘eyelids’ over the windows were cute too!) and choose a colour that would look nice with this base. I used exterior paint suitable for metal and I chose a colour to be mixed up to make sure that I got exactly the cheerful, sunny-sky blue that I wanted for my little caravan. I only needed about half of a 5 litre pot, and I rollered it onto the surface. I’m sure that some people would criticise me for painting it this way, but it’s not going to be travelling anywhere and it looks great. If it wears off at all in the future, I’ve got another half of a tub of paint to re-paint it with anyway! 

cassiefairys vintage caravan project painting exterior baby sky blue

The paint took about a day to full dry with two coats and it looks like a brand new caravan now. The cream and blue works well together and it’s starting to look like the vintage caravan on my dreams. I’m still taking inspiration from other retro caravans so here’s another caravan inspiration from Pinterest which was one of the very first caravan photos that I pinned to my Caravan Love board – love the pink fairy lights!

pink vintage camper from cassiefairys pinterest caravan love board

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A massive new project for Cassiefairy ~ my vintage caravan

First and foremost, I’d like to welcome all the lovely new visitors from Creative Crafting’s blog tour – I have been waiting for this day for a while now and I’m so pleased to be able to welcome you to my blog. While you’re here please have a good look around my categories – there are plenty of craft, sewing and DIY projects in my archives, plus articles on fashion, shoes (on Tuesday Shoesday!) and current trends. I’ve recently been blogging about fun summer ideas (such as Gardenbury festival) and party ideas, plus I share thrifty recipes weekly – every Pieday Friday! But without further ado, I’d like to tell you about my new project – I’ve bought myself a caravan!

It’s not the prettiest caravan at the moment and it’s certainly ‘vintage’ as you can probably tell from it’s shabby exterior and tatty interior, but I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it. I was looking for a ‘garden building’ to use as my workshop/office ever since I moved into my 1-bed bungalow – I needed space for my tutu business and somewhere to keep all my sewing stuff, so I saw the potential in this little caravan. It’s perfectly mobile so I snapped it up for a very low price (you know I’m loathe to spend my hard-earned money, so you can imagine what a bargain it must have been!), had it delivered (included in the price) to my home and parked it up in the back garden. Here are some photos of its current condition, inside and out:

cassiefairys vintage caravan project original photos of sprite

I was in two minds about how to fix it up. When I first saw the caravan I considered carrying out a ‘renovation’, restoring it to it’s original state. I really do love this kind of retro style, especially garish patterns and orange fabrics (as you have probably seen in my living room makeover series!) so it was in my mind to restore the caravan to its former glory and keep it as it was. But when I got inside it, I realised that it had got pretty damp at some point in the past and most of  internal units and cupboards were crumbling and would have to be removed and replaced, the floor lino was torn and the seat cushions were also pretty-much shredded. So I had a rethink and realised that, seeing as I would need to replace all of the internal fittings and repaint the outside of the caravan, I might as well change the design of the caravan completely and go for something that I really liked for myself – it was going to become my studio after all!

cassiefairys vintage caravan project original photos of sprite interior

So, this is the start of my journey of converting my crusty little caravan into a beautiful sewing workshop to be proud of, and I’ll be sharing the ideas, DIY projects, sewing tutorials and progress over the coming weeks. I hope you’ll stop back to see how the caravan project develops! Please let me know if you have created your own home workshop or have converted an old caravan and I’d love to see your photos or feature you on the blog as part of this series – please email me cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk or tweet me @CassiefairyTutu. I’d love to hear from you!

And to all the lovely Creative Crafters; I hope you enjoy what you see here and add me to your favourites list or Bloglovin’ reader and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that you feel inspired to join in with this month’s Inspiration Challenge (in honour of ‘wedding season’ this month’s theme is vintage wedding dresses!) and share your very own craft projects at the end of the month! Please click here to see what we made last month and how to join in!

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