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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Book review: The Thoughtful Gardener by Jinny Blom + Win a copy!

I’ve been reading about gardening this month, and it’s all down to the newly released book The Thoughtful Gardener. If you too have an empty garden (or an overgrown one, for that matter) this book is the perfect starting point to get you into the garden this spring. It’s packed full of inspirational ideas and plenty of photos of gardens in bloom that’ll get you wanting to plant up your patch. Read on to find out more about the book and author, and to enter my giveaway to WIN a copy of this beautiful new release, worth £35!Award-winning designer, and gardening columnist for The Times, Jinny Blom has carefully curated this gorgeous book to bring together design ideas from gardens all around the country. The Thoughtful Gardener not only provides plenty of inspiration with stunning photos, it also offers practical advice on how to make your own perfectly-designed garden at home.

Image by Andrew Montgomery / The Thoughtful Gardener by Jinny Blom

But that doesn’t mean a manicured lawn with topiary trees, a well-designed garden can be full of over-grown shrubs, blousey blooms and messy edges. That’s the lovely thing about this book; it makes gardening accessible to those of us who don’t have the time to trim the edges of our grass with scissors! Some of the gardens in this book have been growing wildly for years, but Jinny shows us how the original design allows for the plants to grow freely while still providing a surprisingly neat and calming space.

Image by Charlie Hopkinson / The Thoughtful Gardener by Jinny Blom

Read more and enter my giveaway to win a copy of The Thoughtful Gardener below..!

Continue reading “Book review: The Thoughtful Gardener by Jinny Blom + Win a copy!” »


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The ergonomics of working from home

If you’re a full-time freelancer like me, or someone who works just one day a week out of their home office, this is the blog post for you. That’s because I’m sharing some research I’ve done about the ergonomics of setting up a home workspace and I’m sure that it’ll help you enjoy working from home even more than you already do!

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If you’ve been making do with sitting at the kitchen table to do your work, or balancing your laptop on the arm of the sofa, or (like us bloggers occasionally admit) never even leave your bed, you won’t need me to tell you that it’s not the best way to work. You’ll ready know it yourself thanks to the numb bum, crick-in-the-neck and sore back you get at the end of the working day.

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Why don’t you have problems like this when you’re working at the office? Because most businesses have ergonomically designed desks and chairs, perfectly set up desks and monitors at just the right height. They need to provide a healthy working environment for their workers, and don’t want to have staff absences because a dodgy office chair caused spine problems for their employees.

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So the solution to having a more comfortable working environment at home is to replicate ‘the office’. I know it might seem dull (and you’ve only just got away from that bloomin’ office!) but you’re going to have to set up a proper desk, get a great office chair and stop working on that laptop. This guide below explains the best way to arrange your desk to make it ergonomically correct. And, most importantly, you’re going to have actually USE your newly arranged desk to do your work. No matter how tempting the sofa looks!

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AMAZING news – my blog won the award for Best Homes & Interiors Blog 2017

I’m SO excited to tell you the wonderful news that my thrifty little lifestyle blog has just been announced as the winner of the Best Homes and Interiors Blogger Award 2017!! I still can’t really believe it and I’m grinning like the cheshire cat right now!The news has just been shared by the award sponsor Tile Trader and it’s already made the headlines on the East Anglian Daily Times website – here’s a screen shot and link to the article if you’d like to have a read.Thank you all for voting for my blog in the competition, I really appreciate you taking the time to support me and it’s all for a fantastic cause – the prize is a donation of £200 to a homelessness charity in the winner’s local area. I’m delighted to be able to use my little blog to boost the funds of a brand new support service in Suffolk “The Bus Shelter”.

Beautiful photo of the bus renovation project by Jane Gould, image from The Bus Shelter Facebook page

The charity is currently renovating a donated double-decker bus to turn it into a safe space for rough sleepers to stay. But ‘sleep is just the beginning’ (the charity’s motto) as the bus will also offer advice, cooking and washing facilities, and ongoing support. It’s a truly inspirational charity and the project is in progress right now so please get involved if you can – all donations really do make a difference and will help to get The Bus Shelter on the road sooner. You can read more and donate on their Facebook page here.

Thank you all once again for voting for my blog – it’s made a huge difference to a local charity as well as made me indescribably happy! I’m super excited  that I also receive a commemorative plaque for the award to put on the mantlepiece woo, can’t wait for that to arrive in the post – I’ll be sure to share a photo of it on Instagram @cassiefairy when it’s delivered. Thank you for continuing to support me and helping to put Suffolk blogs on the map in this national award competition 🙂


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I’m a finalist for the Best Homes & Interiors Blogger Award

It’s been a really exciting weekend here at Cassiefairy HQ because I’ve been shortlisted for an award! I’ve been chosen along with 19 other fabulous interiors blogs (many of which I read myself!) to be put forward for the Tile Trader Best Homes and Interiors Blogger Award and I’d love it if you could vote for me to win!Local journalist Megan Goodwin got in touch for an interview on Friday and by the afternoon an article about the award nomination was already published on the East Anglian news website! The write-up was really kind and supportive, and thankfully they used a fairly nice photo of me – phew!And the following morning things got even more exciting when a friend texted to tell me that I should check out the local paper. It was so weird to see my picture published on page 10 but I was delighted that the East Anglian Daily Times are supporting me in the blogger awards and they even urged their readers to vote for my blog. Fingers crossed!I thought I’d share a quick post today so that you can see the article yourself and to ask you to vote for me in the blogger awards by following this link here. I’m in the list of finalists on the blog award page so it should only take 30 seconds of your time to give me a quick vote! So far I’ve got 20 votes so a big thank you to everyone who already voted. I’d really love to do well in this competition because the winning blogger gets the chance to donate £200 to a homelessness charity. This is a subject that has been close to my heart for many years and I really want to be able to help those fantastic services out there that support the homeless. Thank you all so much for helping me out in this competition – it means a great deal to me 🙂


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My upcycled picture frame breakfast tray project is in Reloved Magazine!

I’m delighted to share with you some pics of my latest project in Reloved magazine. This month I made a breakfast-in-bed tray as a romantic treat for Valentine’s Day. What do you think??I upcycled an old picture frame and turned it into a breakfast tray by removing the glass, and decoupaging old book pages (a falling-apart copy of Jane Eyre and a Marilyn Monroe biography, if you’re interested!) onto the back-board. It’s a similar effect to the book-page feature wall I created in my bedroom – if you missed that blog post you can check it out here.I added a couple of decorative handles (taken off some old drawers that used to be in my mum’s kitchen!) and gave the whole tray a protective coat of sealing varnish.

The full step-by-step guide to making the picture frame tray for yourself can be found in Issue 39 of Reloved magazine, and if you’re quick you can still pick it up in the shops this week. The next issue comes out on 23rd Feb, so you’ve not got long to grab a copy!Here’s some photos of the magazine itself – I’m always SO thrilled to be featured in print and see my projects shared with so many thrifty readers. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing my name on the page as ‘the designer’ – eeee!

My one-cup teapot set is from The Caravan Trail – lovely bright colours for Spring!

The next of Reloved (Issue 40) is out this week and contains lots of lovely Spring and Easter-themed upcycling projects so be sure to check that out too!


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My “Take 10” interview in Reloved magazine

Hi all, how has your week been?  Today I thought I’d quickly shared my ‘Take 10’ interview about upcycling and thriftiness from Reloved magazine in case you didn’t get a chance to pick up a copy of Issue 38 last month. My project on restoring leather was also in the January issue, with the aim of bringing old furniture back to ‘good-as-new’ in the New Year. If you want to have a read of the step-by-step guide I’ve shared it on my blog so you can check out the photos and instructions for the leather restoration project herereloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-1reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-2The good news is that I’ve got another project being published in the magazine soon so keep an eye out for Issue 39 of Reloved in the newsagents and online this week. Here’s the “Take 10” page in full so you can read my answers to the interview questions – SO excited to be featured!reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-4-2 reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-5


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I’ve been featured in Papercrafter magazine!

Today I’ve got some really exciting news to share – I’ve been featured in Papercrafter magazine! A whole two-page spread has been dedicated to my tips, ideas and projects and I couldn’t be happier! I’ve taken some photos of the feature so that you can see what it looks like and maybe have a read of the pages. Continue reading “I’ve been featured in Papercrafter magazine!” »


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Students – Tips for improving your essay writing

We’re only one month into the new year and I bet that you college students out there will already have a stack of assignments to catch up on. I remember that my university tutors all used to set their essays, reports and presentations within the first couple of weeks of term, so by now I would already be worrying about writing them. Would my research be strong enough and would my writing skills be good enough to get the debate across? After a lot of practice and many many years of being a student I finally worked out how to breeze through essays and assignments, so if you’re feeling concerned don’t worry – there are plenty of ways of improving your grammar, choice of words, structure, etc and here’s how:

Quick tips to improve your writing skills

All students have problems with  written assignments from time to time as they demand thorough research and take lots of time to pull together into a structure that reaches a decisive conclusion. But all that work isn’t in vain – developing your writing skills in this way is useful when you’re studying at a higher level in the future or even in your future job. Here are some tips that will make your life much easier:

  • Make sure that every paragraph has main idea
  • Pay attention to sentence length: short ones are used to emphasize ideas and longer sentences are used to explain, define, or illustrate
  • Key words and ideas should be placed at the beginning or end of the sentence
  • Use different types of sentences: simple, compound, and complex sentences
  • Dynamic verbs in active voice are important – don’t overuse the passive voice
  • Avoid using too many unnecessary words
  • When you’re reviewing your essay, read it aloud –  you will hear any grammar problems
  • Don’t be too lazy to proofread and edit your work before submitting it
  • Don’t be embarrassed to use a dictionary or synonyms 

Continue reading “Students – Tips for improving your essay writing” »


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How to restore leather furniture + I’m in issue 38 of Reloved magazine!

I have some wonderful news to kick start the new year – I’m in Reloved magazine this month! My “How to restore a leather chair” project has been given a full four-page spread in the magazine AND it even made the front cover; look carefully and you can see it in the thumbnail images at the bottom of the cover! Not only that, but I’m also their Take 10 interview on the last page – wow!reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-1I said once before that ‘you know you’ve made it when…’ you’re in the same magazine as Max McMurdo and Annie Sloan but this is the second time it’s happened now, so I’m beginning to settle into my role of upcycler/writer. But that doesn’t make it any less exciting to find my work in a magazine on the shelves of our local newsagents! The eagle-eyed of you might have spotted an Instagram snap of me grinning from ear-to-ear holding a copy of Reloved in WH Smith. I’m super-cheesy, I know, but it was an incredibly proud moment for me nonetheless.reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-2The project I shared in Issue 38 of Reloved was how to repair crumbling cracked leather. My husband bought this chair from the carboot sale but it was in awful condition and needed a lot of TLC to bring it back to life. And that’s exactly what we did – by the end of the makeover the leather was supple and shining once more, the colour was richer than ever and the cracks and splits were gone. I’ve included the full project pages below so that you can read the step-by-step guide yourself, just in case you too have some beyond-help leather furniture that needs fixing up. reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-3As you can probably tell I’m REALLY chuffed to be featured in my favourite magazine and I’m over the moon that the editor wants me to come up with more projects for the publication in the future. In fact, I’ve already sent over another DIY project for Valentine’s Day and I spotted a photo of it in the preview of the next issue so I’m hoping that I’ll be able to share another project with you again next month too!reloved-magazine-cassiefairy-feature-homemade-handmade-diy-project-restoring-leather-chair-issue-38-4Below are my project pages from inside the magazine but be sure to pick up a copy of Reloved for yourself this month because it’s packed full of sewing, craft, diy and upcycling projects including some step-by-step guides by Max McMurdo, Sewing Bee winner Matt Chapple, printer Joy Jolliffe, ‘salvage sister’ Charis Williams and author Kate Beavis.

Continue reading “How to restore leather furniture + I’m in issue 38 of Reloved magazine!” »


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Wahey! My recycled fabric wreath project is featured in Oxfam newspaper!

I had a lovely surprise this week when I flicked through the winter issue of Oxfam newspaper: my festive wreath project has been featured in the publication! Of course, Oxfam had been in touch earlier this year to ask permission to use my content and, seeing as I’d created it for the Oxfam Fashion blog in the first place, I was happy to oblige.oxfam-newspaper-feature-cassiefairy-felt-wreath-project-diy-christmas-festive-1In fact, I was over the moon! It’s amazing to think that my little thrifty project is being printed in a real newspaper and distributed to Oxfam customers, volunteers and donors all around the country. Wow, I’m so chuffed!oxfam-newspaper-feature-cassiefairy-felt-wreath-project-diy-christmas-festive-3DIY fabric wreath for Christmas - step by step tutorial-10The feature contains step-by-step photos to show readers how to use scrap fabrics and ends of ribbon to make a funky Christmas wreath. I loved creating this project, enjoyed sharing it on my blog and on the Oxfam website, and now I’m absolutely thrilled that it’s been immortalised in print! Woo!oxfam-newspaper-feature-cassiefairy-felt-wreath-project-diy-christmas-festive-1-2You can find this project and all my other blog posts on my Oxfam blogger profile, and while you’re there, have a look around the Oxfam fashion blog and read all the interesting finds and projects that the other volunteer writers have been working on.

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