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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Tuesday Shoesday: How to dye your shoes – step by step video tutorial

When you really love a pair of shoes, you find yourself wearing them at every opportunity. Perhaps they are the comfiest shoes you’ve ever worn, maybe they are the coolest colour or are an on-trend shape, or it can be as simple as ‘they go with everything’. Whatever the reason, it’s really sad when they come to their end of their wearable life. Fabric fades and scuffs appear, and they get relegated to the back of the wardrobe.blue suede shoes shoe fabric dying makeover before afterThis is especially true for suede shoes, which need a lot of looking after to stop them from looking worn. So if (like me) you’ve been a little too lazy to waterproof your suede, or haven’t given them a daily brushing, and you didn’t not wear them on rainy days, then you might have a pair of rather poorly-looking suede shoes under your bed. When hubby’s favourite suede trainers ended up faded, mucky, scuffed and stained, I knew it was either time to throw them out… or do something about it.renovate-old-suede-shoes-trainers-makeover-diy-customising-dying-shoes-tutorial-video-9I hopped online and googled “shoe dye”. It turns out that it IS possible to give his old shoes a new lease of life with dye, and I picked up this Dylon navy blue shoe dye for less than £4 on Ebay. The bottle of dye comes with instructions and a small brush and can be painted onto onto any shoes that need a makeover. The colours of shoe dye tend to be quite dark, so you can easily go from blue to navy, or something like green to black. If you want to dye your shoes to refresh them year-on-year just go one step darker each time, so red shoes could be dyed brown and next time they could be painted black. Okay, you’ll end up with much darker shoes than before, but they’ll look good as new and you already know they’re comfy!renovate-old-suede-shoes-trainers-makeover-diy-customising-dying-shoes-tutorial-video renovate-old-suede-shoes-trainers-makeover-diy-customising-dying-shoes-tutorial-video-3 renovate-old-suede-shoes-trainers-makeover-diy-customising-dying-shoes-tutorial-video-4 renovate-old-suede-shoes-trainers-makeover-diy-customising-dying-shoes-tutorial-video-5 renovate-old-suede-shoes-trainers-makeover-diy-customising-dying-shoes-tutorial-video-7 renovate-old-suede-shoes-trainers-makeover-diy-customising-dying-shoes-tutorial-video-8 renovate-old-suede-shoes-trainers-makeover-diy-customising-dying-shoes-tutorial-video-10Check out my step-by-step video below (it’s only 3 mins long) to find out how to bring your shoes back to their ‘box-fresh’ best with fabric dye (or view it on my YouTube channel here):

 

I hope this helps you refresh your own favourite shoes so that you can keep wearing them for years to come – and save cash on replacing them! My husband was really chuffed when he found out that I’d dyed his shoes and that he could carry on wearing his favourite comfy trainers. And when he ruins them again (on more off-road walks!) this year, I’ll simply dye them again. Good plan, eh? Let me know if you have a go at dying your own footwear, and any tips you have for looking after suede in general – it’s pretty obvious that we need some advice on this (!) so please leave me a comment below.


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Cheering up the nation with a wedding speech

If you’ve not already seen this wedding speech – where have you been??

Tom Fletcher from band McFly released a YouTube video of his wedding speech on the 6th January and immediately perked up millions of people around the UK – no more January blues for us! Since I first watched it at the start of the week, the speech has spread around social media like wild-fire (yes, even I shared it), and has now been mentioned on national TV and radio. I’m not surprised that it has already racked up 3.5 million views – and counting!

Claiming to be  too nervous about public speaking to make his wedding speech, the groom (who married his long-term girlfriend Gi in May 2012) tells his friends and family that although he might not know how to write a speech, he knows how to write a song. The music starts up and he bursts into song to thank his ushers, bridesmaids, best men and family. I won’t tell you any more, I’ll just say please watch it – this video will put a smile on your face 🙂

 


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Cassiefairy’s top tips for promoting your business online

The average person experiences up to 3,000 advertising messages per day, so the biggest risk for a business is to be lost within this barrage of marketing. But businesses too need to certain that they are not adding to the problem of junk marketing themselves. How many emails have you received this week from businesses promoting their product? I even get junk text messages on my phone. It appears that the brands who have been so careful not to become part of the ‘wallpaper’ of excessive advertising have now become e-spammers and are just as undesirable for customers to engage with.

Pricewaterhousecoopers confirm that traditional TV advertising is now a follow-on strategy for retailers, behind the Internet, mobile telephone SMS and promotional events. So even small businesses can now be using the same techniques to promote their products as the big brands. Viral marketing and word-of-mouth campaigns are much more attractive for both promoters and customers alike, as the cost of marketing in this way can cost considerably less than TV & glossy magazine advertising, and customers are much more receptive to friendlier communication techniques; blogs, Twitter, Facebook pages, Youtube videos, podcasts, product placement and review sites.

In 2008 Reuters reported that social media overtook porn as the number one online activity and the Interactive Advertising Bureau agrees; “if you’re not on a social networking site, you’re not on the Internet” which is equally true for companies. According to Mike Murphy, Vice President of Global Sales at Facebook, 83 of the top 100 ad spenders in the US have a Facebook strategy, with the aim of developing friendly relationships with customers to ensure that when the time comes to make a purchase they will turn to their brand first.  Social media gives the customer the information that they want in a familiar format and they are more likely to trust the opinion of a Facebook or Twitter friend than an advert created by the brand. Using social networking and blogs is empowering shoppers as they can comment on products and services and transmit their opinions to a worldwide audience. Plus, recommendations of brands or products from friends and family remains a key motivator for making a purchase. This is why it is important for businesses to be present on websites where this conversation is occurring, to encourage positive word-of-mouth.

Yet companies cannot focus solely on promoting their product through social networks as users are becoming savvy to corporate messages ‘hidden’ in Twitter posts and Facebook page updates and will resist, seeing it as an invasion into a space they use solely for personal interactions. Social networks should not be seen as a place for businesses to advertise their products for free – it should a refuge from the barrage of advertising messages and simply used as a communication tool. Promotional marketing should focus on making the customer feel good, and in an era when recession hit this is an attractive offer for the consumer. Businesses that use social networking can provide an almost personalised service to the customer – giving information directly to the customer as soon as they want it. And on the other hand, customers sharing their shopping experiences on social media can also give businesses an insight into what  the customer wants and how to give it to them; resulting in a satisfied customer and a profitable company.

Here’s my top 5 dos and don’ts for using social media to improve your business:

  • Don’t directly Tweet your products: Its boring seeing update after update of new products on the business’ website – at best followers will ignore your tweets or at worst will un-follow you = no more communication.
  • Don’t send unsolicited messages: Customers will grow angry and emails will be deleted or marked as ‘junk.  Only communicate with customers who have requested to receive your newsletter – you can add a newletter sign-up button to your website/shop/blog. Use a mailing programme online such as Mailchimp, who will keep track of customers signing-up & unsubscribing for you.
  • Don’t be offensive: Even though social media is informal, always remember you are using it to show off your business in a positive light. Your customers certainly don’t want to see swearing, rude-tube videos or slagging off the competition.
  • Don’t ignore your customers: Check your Twitter, Facebook or email messages daily to ensure timely replies to questions & comments, giving your customers a friendly personalised service.
  • Don’t forget to tell customers what you do: Make sure that your followers can easily see what you do, your website address and how to get in touch with you. There’s no point being friendly and entertaining if no one knows what you do or how to buy from you!
  • Do ‘Like’ and ‘Follow’ others:  Especially similar users to your business, and try to get them to follow you back – eg.  If I was promoting a range for children, I would follow parenting magazines, kids events and other child-related brands. Other social media users often look at who their favourite Tweeters follow to find like-minded Tweeps and your follower list will grow.
  • Do share interesting content: News, photos, stories and videos will keep your customers entertained through Twitter, Facebook or even a blog.
  • Do create professional-looking newsletters: Include your interesting content alongside your products or special offers – Mailchimp provides a newsletter design options to send to your subscribers.
  • Do make professional contacts: Use the informal nature of social media to start up working relationships with similar organisations as you never know when you’ll need a helping hand, plus you can get in touch with relevant bloggers and journalists to share interesting information about your business which might end up becoming an article, blogpost or Retweet.
  • Do sign-up for industry networks: You’re not limited to the most popular social media sites – there are hundreds of networks out there for different professions and interests, such as Creative Connections for crafters. You can get both support & friendship from like-minded people and an additional promotional space for your business.

By Cassie Greenacre of Cassiefairy.co.uk, published in Creative Crafting Magazine, October 2011 issue- get in touch www.cassiefairy.co.uk or email cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk

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