Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

Cassiefairy's thrifty little lifestyle blog – DIY crafts, sewing, food & fashion – what more does a girl need??


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My year of thrifty retail & DIY fashion

I have amazing news and I’ve already been yelling it all over Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr and Google+ so if you haven’t already heard my screeches from where you are here it is again: I’VE BEEN SHORTLISTED IN THE NATIONAL UK BLOG AWARDS 2014! When I saw all the other amazing nominees in the Retail and Fashion category I could never have dared to believe that I might be shortlisted, but results are in and the announcement has been made – and my little blog has made it into the top 10 in the country! The finalists will be judged by industry professionals Carli Palmer from House of Fraser and Melanie Killilnea from Hotter Shoes – and I’m so excited to think that they could be looking at my blog right now. This has got me thinking about the past year on my blog and all of the thrifty shopping, fashion and DIY posts I’ve done now that I’m approaching my 1000th blog post and I wanted to take a nostalgic look back over the year with you – so here goes:

A recent early morning walk in the frost resulted in a mini fashion-shoot using blogger & stylist Sasha Bowman’s La Mere layering technique and gave me the chance to show off my new Brag Vintage find!

Again, snow was the inspiration behind my winter outfit post in which I proudly wore my new size 10 H&M coat that I never would have fitted into the year before and a cute Apricot dress. There’s really nothing better than being out in the cold while snuggled up with a hot drink.

At Christmas I let you all know what I’d be wearing with some snaps of my birthday/Christmas dress from La Redoute, my homemade snood infinity scarf and the festive jumper I made myself with just a bag of pom-poms and a needle – just two of the many of DIY outfit posts that I’ve written for Oxfam Fashion.

You’ll probably remember how terrified I was about attending the Company Style Blog Awards last year – what on earth would I wear to go into a room full of über-stylish fashionistas? And after a lot of deliberation here on the blog, I decided on an Apricot and New Look outfit combined with some car-boot sale bargains and borrowed accessories.

And then came my nemesis – the emerald green dress that I made myself – remember how long it took me to get going on the project, how scary it was to cut into the fabric, how many adjustments I needed to make to the pattern? Thankfully it turned out great in the end and sparked an interesting discussion about Sew-It-Yourself. Plus I now have a custom-made dress hanging in my wardrobe!

To date there have been 128 weeks of Tuesday Shoesday posts discussing footwear trends and weekly DIY posts on making your own accessories for yourself (and for the home too!) and adjusting your thrifted clothing to fit. I’ve also enjoyed sharing the new season trends and focussing on fashion week favourites – including how to get the look for less – the most important thing is saving money for us all through sensible shopping! Of course, there are tons more posts than I can mention here – we’d be here all day! – but please have browse through my categories on my sidebar to check out more shopping, fashion, sewing, trend and bargain-hunting articles for yourself.

I hope that you’ve all been enjoying reading my blog and have got some ideas that you’ve used yourself. But most importantly I want to say a massive THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for voting for my little blog to be shortlisted in the National UK Blog Awards, you can’t imagine what it means to me but you can be sure that the smile on my face is gigantic right now! :D


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Festive shopping at Snape Maltings

One of my favourite places to visit and shop is Snape Maltings. I’ve visited this Suffolk destination many times over the years, and I love the vintage and farmers markets that are hosted there at regular intervals. It’s a gorgeous complex of independent retails in old maltings buildings and it really does have something for everyone – therefore I headed there this weekend to finish off my festive shopping.

chirstmas shopping at snape maltings toys and crafts

I spent a pleasurable couple of hours browsing around the craft barn and book shop (buying a secret present for hubby along the way…) before heading into the massive home and garden showroom. With inspirational displays of furniture and homewares I could spend hours in there, and the trouble is I want it all – I could quite happily pack up my stuff and move in!

chirstmas shopping at snape maltings homewares

And when I got the kitchenware section, I did actually spend ages deliberating over the stunning range of enamelware below and eventually decided to invest in a couple of pot-bellied pans in red and cream enamel. They can be used on the hob or in the oven, so will be great for my festive cooking, plus they reminded me of the singing casserole pots in Beauty and the Beast! I think this might be the starting point of a whole kitchen makeover, so watch this space…

chirstmas shopping at snape maltings kitchenware

Not only do I enjoy the shops, but the whole environment is inspiring – the old buildings are photo-worthy and there is a picturesque walk around the site, along the river Alde and through the reed-beds at the rear of the Snape Maltings concert hall, punctuated with artworks to stop at along the route. It’s a gorgeous walk to go on at any time of year and I took loads of photos when I visited this week and here are a few photos of the lovely old malt buildings: 

chirstmas shopping at snape maltings

Although I’m usually a sucker for collecting points on loyalty cards in the chain stores, I am happier shopping at an independent retailer like Snape Maltings as I love to support local businesses, and much of the product range and food produce they sell is locally grown or handmade by resident craftspeople. Plus I can still collect points at any of the independent shops with Freedom Rewards when paying by Barclaycard. If you’ve never visited this area of Suffolk before it is well worth a taking a trip to visit the coast – and make sure you stop off at Snape Maltings en route, if only to enjoy their yummy local food in the café!


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Christmas gift ideas for chick flick fans

With the recent release of author Helen Fielding’s novel Bridget Jones’ Diary: Mad About the Boy, I thought that now would be the ideal time to think about the women in your life and what fantastic gifts are available for chick-flick movie fans. The latest installment in the saga of sad-single heroine Bridget Jones has appeared on bedside tables all around the country, as fans flick through the pages to find out what happens to ‘our little Bridget’ and what we can expect from any future film. I’ve added the book to my Christmas wish list, so I’m hoping that I’ll soon be reading it too! I’m a big fan and Bridget Jones’s Diary is my go-to film for a girlie night in, but there are tons of famous movies out there that chick-flick aficionados love – and with them, a whole range of gorgeous gifts suitable for the ladies in your life. So if you need inspiration for Christmas, birthday’s or  anniversaries, here are some of my favorite chick-flick inspired gifts:

1. Bridget Jones’ Diary

Let’s start with the obvious, the new Helen Fielding book Mad About the Boy was released on 15th October 2013 and essential reading for any fan of the Bridget Jones franchise. Or if she has already got the book, another lovely gift would be THE red diary that Bridget uses or even a pair of bunny ears, to reference the first film. I already have a floating heart necklace like Bridget’s that my husband gave to me at the start of our relationship and I loved it – plus I’m sure that any gift of jewellery that comes in a Tiffany’s box will be massively appreciated!chick flick gifts from bridget jones diary movie

Red diary from Moleskine and floating heart necklace from Tiffany & Co

2. Julie and Julia

A favourite film for foodies and bloggers alike, Julie and Julia starring Meryl Steep as super-star cook Julia Child and gorgeous Amy Adams as blogger Julie Powell is a great starting point for a whole host of gifts for the ladies in your life. Maybe she’d like a copy of Julia Child’s famous Mastering the Art of French Cooking recipe book or invest in a Le Creuset casserole pot, just like Julie uses to cook her boeuf bourguignon in the film.

julie and julia gifts for chick flick fans

Julia Child Cookbook from WH Smith and Le Creuset dish from John Lewis

3. Sex and the City

What woman doesn’t love the Sex and the City series and subsequent films? It’s pretty easy to shop for fans of SATC – simply buy anything that Carrie would wear! So designer heels like these Manolo Blahnik shoes would be massively appreciated by the girls (even if they’re not for wearing!) and yes, you can actually buy those blue shoes! Jennifer Hudson’s “LOVE” keyring from the first movie is a cute stocking filler and a personalised necklace like Carrie’s with the name of your recipient on it would be ideal for a special occasion.

chick flick gifts from sex and the city movie

“Something Blue” shoes from Manolo Blahnik and “Love” keyring from Amazon

4. Disney

I know lots of ladies who love a good dose of Disney every now and again, with or without the children! A fun gift for any Disney fan would be these cute Minnie Mouse ears, or even more fabulous – if you’re feeling extra-generous – would be being whisked off on a trip to Disneyland!

disney gifts for chick flick fans

Trip to Disneyland from Disney Packages and Minnie Mouse ears from Disney Store

So even though this is basically a wish-list for my own Christmas gifts, I’m sure that your friends and family will love these film-inspired treats too! What would you add to the list? Leave me a comment below and let me know :)


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Christmas gift ideas ~ unique self-published books

People love getting really creative, one-of-a-kind books for Christmas. Books that elicit a “where did you find this?” response. As the leading indie- and self-publishing platform, Blurb has an entire online bookstore full of unique books by an incredible array of undiscovered, self-published authors, artists, and photographers. I’ve purchased books in the past written by bloggers who have self-published their work, such as this “21 Crafts to Make You Happy” book below by blogger Abbey Hendrickson, and it’s a great way to buy an inspirational book packed full of the author’s best content. And it’s unlikely that these “indie” books are already in your recipient’s bookshelf, so there’s less chance of giving duplicate gifts! If you’re thinking of giving unique gifts this year, consider these titles costing around £40 or less: 

Abbey Hendrickson blog book crafts to make you happy blogger

Cookie Cravings by Maria Lichty and Heidi Larsen

We all have cookie cravings. Popular food blogger Maria Lichter decided to put them into something deliciously original: A baking book featuring 30 recipes you won’t find anywhere else. 

Dog by My Side by Adam Schnitzer

This charming collection of original, vintage photos shows us that as long as there have been cameras, we’ve wanted to photograph our canine best friends. As a special bonus, there’s a glossary of the early photographic methods used in the original images.

 Around the World with a Toy Camera by Giorgio Giussani

 Perfect for the photography or graffiti-art fan on your list. This book is an explosion of gritty color that explores the wonders of street art and analog photography.

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Give personal gifts this Chirstmas

If you have a digital camera—whether it’s your smart phone or your DSLR—chances are you have a lot of wonderful photos of the people you love. And if you do there’s a good chance that those photos haven’t seen the light of day since you first took them or posted them to Facebook or Instagram. So imagine if those photos were gathered together and printed in a personalised book – Wouldn’t it be the most thoughtful gift ever? And with Blurb’s easy, custom books, you can make a photo gift book that’s both personal and extremely polished. 

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You can use your Facebook photos, Instagram photos, or photos on your computer to document a “year in the life” or even a whole lifetimes-worth of images. You can design your own book template, or have it automagically created with Blurb’s Designer Collection templates which I used to created my Pieday Friday recipe book (below). It was super-easy to use and all these ddesign tools run right in your web browser, letting you make a book in as little as ten minutes! A real book. One you can hold, share, show off (as I did with my cookbook!) and pass on. Plus it’s so easily customised that you can create different versions for different people. Just add in a few new photos, change the text, and re-order the prints to make a book on your nephew suitable for Grandma too. If you’re looking to make something a little bigger, like a family history book Blurb has ways to do that too and the templates will help your project come to life.

Cassiefairys free pieday friday recipe book blurb ebook cookbook
 
Even though you can order up until December 19, ordering early is always better (and a bit cheaper too).So if you want to get started on making a beautiful gift book make sure you use this thrifty code I’ve found to get a huge 30% off  ” SAVE30 “


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My vintage caravan ~ somewhere to iron my sewing projects

So on this wet Wednesday morning, what better to chat to you about than my new ironing board. Honestly, it’s a much more interesting topic than you’d think! I needed to replace my previous ironing board this week because I discovered that it has gone mouldy and rusty where it had been leaning up against a damp exterior wall. Do you remember that I talked about my damp bedroom and problem with condensation? Well, it turns out that it wasn’t only my bedroom that had the problem! So when I came to get out my ironing board to iron the darts into the dress that I challenged myself to sew this week, I found that my ironing board had been ruined.

brabantia ironing board outside my vintage caravan sewing room

You can probably tell from the above that I’m not what you’d call a regular ironer, which is why I hadn’t noticed the rust appearing on the ironing board frame. Even so, I need an ironing board for all of my sewing projects and I felt a bit stumped without one. I’m not going back to my student days of laying a towel on the floor and using that as an ironing surface! So I visited the John Lewis website and picked out this Brabantia ironing board – mainly for the cute tea-party pattern on the cover! When it arrived, I realised that it did so much more than I’d expected and could be used at many different heights so it will be ergonomically the right height for even small ladies like me! Plus I can even iron whilst sitting down, that’s how low it goes! It’s really chunky and sturdy, as you’d expect from a brand whose tag line is “solid company”, plus I love the little teapot hot plate for resting your iron on. All in all I thought it was a good choice and I’ll be keeping it in my sewing-workshop caravan now, to make sure that it isn’t met with the same fate as the previous ironing board.

brabantia airing rack outside my vintage caravan sewing room

While on the subject, I also got this Brabantia airing rack, which was equally sturdy and has more hanging surface area than I ever thought possible – enough for a whole washing load. It’s handy for this time of year, because I don’t have a tumble-dryer to dry my clothes (not that I’d want to pay for the electricity to run it, I’m too stingy!) and I reply on good weather and my washing line. Looking out of the window at this time of year, I can tell I’m not going to be getting any washing dry on the line, so I needed an alternative. This airer will sit in my bathroom and the warm air will dry the clothes – plus I don’t mind having the window open to air the bathroom and take out the dampness from the wet clothes.

So although not always the most interesting subject area to talk about, my new clothes-drying-and-ironing system is one of the more exciting things that has happened to me this week and I’m pleased to be getting everything in order so that I can really enjoy Christmas in comfort! Not to mention all those sewing projects I’ll be able to get on with now..!


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Personalised books for Christmas

It can be really hard buying books for people as gifts. After all, you never know just which books they already have. I love receiving books for Christmas (because they don’t take up much space in my tiny home & keep me happy all year!) but some years I have received the same book twice and have ended up swapping with friend and family who have also received duplicate books. And then when you do find the right book and give it to them, how do you make it really personal? Write an inscription? How do you make the whole thing totally them?

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I’ve just heard about a series of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books that you can thoroughly personalise for your friends and family. I loved reading Robert Holden’s “Success Intelligence” (read my review here) – and lots of my blog readers have recommended that I also to read his “Be Happy” book – and I think that these Chicken Soup books will be equally inspirational. Not only do you get to choose from five different story themes, as the title suggests these are stories meant to comfort and heal, but you can also personalise the book with your friend’s name on the cover, as the recipient. And it’s truly from you because your name is printed on the cover as the giver. You can even include an inscription inside the book, on the back cover and add a photo to the back. It takes about five minutes to make it a truly custom book and chances are, it’ll be something they’ll love forever. There’s a quick video on the link I’ve shared that shows you how to fill in all the info using a simple online tool, and the books are all created by Blurb, so you know the quality is going to be great. Get started here and make sure you use the 25% off code that I found: NOVEMBER25

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