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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Tuesday Shoesday ~ Would you have shoe ‘art’ on your walls?

Just how much do you love shoes? You like wearing them, yes – but would you hang them on your wall? After seeing all the fabulous photographs of shoes that my lovely readers have sent in to me when I asked them to share the story of their favourite shoes (check out the post and get involved here!) I realised how much you all love your shoes and how nice the images look – they could almost be works of art. So would you want to see your favourite pair of shoes immortalised as an artwork and would you hang it on your wall for everyone to see? There are been plenty of examples of artists painting images of shoes throughout history and I’ve been researching my favourites to share with you today.

The first image that I stumbled upon was this 1887 Vincent Van Gogh painting titled “Three Pair of Shoes”. Who would have thought that a few pairs of battered old shoes would become a thing of beauty when captured in a Van Gogh painting? I really like this piece and it would be the perfect print to frame and decorate the walls of a country house conservatory or boot room.

Degas Van Gogh art painting of shoes

Origianl image sources via my Tuesday Shoesday Pinterest board

Degas famously captured ballet dancers in his work and there are numerous images of ballerinas tying their ballet shoes. This is a prettier way of displaying shoes on your walls and if you a fan of ballet anyway, a framed Degas print would be perfect. I could imagine it hanging in a bedroom or even in a little girl’s playroom, so cute!

I’ve also been thinking about the shoes we own and love and even though we might not wear our prettiest shoes often perhaps we could at least admire them by every day hanging an image of them on your wall? You can certainly take some lovely photographs of your shoes and get them printed by a printing service online to create your own poster art. Or maybe you could have your favourite pair of shoes immortalized as a work of art by one of the fabulous artists available to commission on Etsy? Better still – why not attempt to paint them yourselves? You can get hold of a canvas cheaply at shops such as The Works or The Range and can have a go at painting your own shoes – don’t worry if you go wrong at all, you can just call it an ‘abstract’ painting!

tuesday shoesday corkscrew

What do you think about shoes as works of art? Would you like to hang your shoes on your walls? And please let me know if you have a favourite pair of shoes that you’d like including in my next ‘Your Shoes’ blog post in April. I’ve already had a few submissions from lovely readers so please send me a photo of your favourite shoes and a sentence or two about why you like them – I’ll share them one Tuesday Shoesday and link back to your blog/website if you have one so send me your favourite shoes to thanks!

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Saturday night cocktails – it’s just ‘tidying up’ really…

So what if I don’t want to spend £9 on a cocktail on a Saturday night in a swanky bar in the city? It doesn’t mean that I’m dull, ‘square’ or poor – it just means that (for the second time in two days) I’d rather put that money towards a new garden gate. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not having a great time on a Saturday night because I’m probably getting up to all-sorts of things in the privacy of my own home. Okay, that came out sounding a lot racier than I intended it to, but what I mean is that I can enjoy a night of cocktails and glamour without having to leave the house and that’s exactly what my husband and I did last weekend.

thrifty night in ideas for retro cocktail making

We got out all the bartending paraphernalia that my husband loves to collect and that we now finally have a use for, then we looked through the drinks cabinet to see what we had left over after Christmas. See, I’m actually tidying up after Christmas by drinking these cocktails, honest. We nipped out to the shops to buy some lemons, mixers and lime juice – the missing ingredients for our evening of experimentation (again, sounds dodgy but it really wasn’t). We also picked up some bar snacks and popcorn, because I knew I’d get the munchies after a couple of drinks. That evening we surveyed our stash of ingredients and typed them into Google and before we knew it, we were mixing up cocktails we’d never heard of based on the suggestions of a search engine. The first drink was, rather unfortunately, the worst thing I’ve ever tasted in my life. Imagine chewing on the rind of a particularly pithy orange that has been soaked in nail polish remover. Delicious, huh?

cocktail making with retro babycham champagne glasses

But that didn’t stop us. Oh no. We had a go at mixing a limey, gingery, rum and whisky combo which was very tasty but also very strong and my husband made the most delicious drink of damson brandy (one of our home-made boozes – see the recipes here and here) and something fruity. If only I’d been paying better attention, or had a better memory after one-too-many drinks, then I’d be able to tell you what went into our cocktails and you’d be able to recreate them for yourselves. But that’s not really the point – I simply wanted to share with you the concept of having a night in on the lash, using up your existing stash of booze and being thrifty on a Saturday night. I’ve shared recipes for Cherry Amaretto, three festive cocktails and Amaretto Sours (which I also enjoyed making on this occasion!) on the blog previously so check out those bad boys! By the way, it’s even more fun when you have guests over and you can really show off with all the shaker-twirling and add loads of garnishes to the glass. Hubby enjoyed using the retro paper-fruit-straws that Father Christmas gave him in his stocking this year and I munched my way through half a tub of cherries, oops!

mix your own saturday night cocktails with cheap ingredients

Bailey’s and chocolate milkshakes were mixed as a yummy dessert – and tasted just like one of my favourite cocktails from the very expensive cocktail bar that I mentioned in the first paragraph. Although I don’t advocate drinking lots and should tell you all to drink alcohol responsibly and in moderation, I think that its probably safer if you’re drinking at home and can control the measures you’re having yourself. Plus, you don’t have to stumble too far into bed, and there’ll be none of this loitering around dark streets near the kebab shop and walking home with bare feet with your 6-inch heels in your hands while singing Tina Turner songs and doing ‘her legs’. Well, there’s an image of my ‘student experience’ that you’ll enjoy for years to come..!

Although I’d love to say that I do this every weekend, I definitely won’t be mixing cocktails this evening because I’m having a much more enjoyable night looking after my amazing nephew and we’ll probably have even more fun making a puppet show with his Chatty Feet socks again rather than knocking back the booze. Snort – I just made myself laugh with the idea of ‘socktails’ rather than cocktails :D  Maybe I could mix up a fruit-squash mocktail for us? Apple cordial, anyone?

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Our mini Chinese New Year celebration

Last night, I decorated the house with paper garlands and red fairy lights and surprised my husband with a Chinese meal to celebrate the Chinese New Year. We ate all the classic and totally inauthentic Chinese takeaway favourites; chow mein, egg fried rice, prawn crackers and sweet n sour chicken. It was a lovely evening in, and seeing as we don’t every really eat at the dining table (yes, we’ve fallen into that habit of eating in front of the TV) it felt like a special occasion and we had a proper catch-up. Plus the invitation to our friend’s wedding arrived so we celebrated that too! Here are some of my photos of my pretty Chinese-inspired table setting:

inspirations for chinese new year the year of the horse

I know that my lucky cats aren’t strictly of Chinese origin but I was going for a general oriental theme and I guess that a strawberry paper garland isn’t completely authentic either! My Chinese lantern is the one I was talking about yesterday that I got from a tiny tourist shop in Manchester last year and has been hanging in my caravan workshop ever since. And now that I’ve used this floral fabric as a tablecloth, I’m thinking it would look great as a skirt or dress so maybe it will make another appearance on the blog soon, albeit in the sewing section!

oriental inspirations for chinese new year table settings


My mid-century living room ~ making retro artwork

Ever since I framed up a selection Christmas quotes and hung them on my living room walls during the festive period, I’ve been thinking ahead to the new year and what I could replace these seasonal posters for the rest of the year. I’ve already made the holes in my walls, inserted the picture hooks and the frames look pretty good in formation so I’d like to keep them in place, but the dilemma came when deciding what to put into the frames. I still had retro wallpaper leftover from my feature wall, but is it really a cool thing to frame wallpaper? I also liked the pattern on my old record boxes but other than photographing them and printing out the pattern to use as a background in the frames, I couldn’t think what else I could do with it – plus, I don’t like anything to be too matchy-matchy in my home.

using sheet music covers for retro framed artwork

I’d bought a stack of sheet music from a charity shop when I was wallpapering my bedroom wall with old books and some of these had survived the pasting brush to live another day. I knew I needed to crack on with changing the artwork in the frames because I’d has two visitors last week who had commented that my Christmas posters were still up, so to spare my blushes I made a quick decision to try out the sheet music covers in the frames. I didn’t know how they would turn out, because they were all different sizes and colours – and did I really want photos of random musical singers on my walls? But I had to put something different in the frames – I didn’t want to get a reputation for being “that woman who keeps her Christmas decorations up all year” – so I popped the sheet music in the frames regardless of their size or colour. With the smaller booklets I used some craft paper to make a cardboard-browny background and this kind of tied three of the pictures together, which actually worked out well. I’ve also used one of my hubby’s drawings of a chair again (I’d previously framed it here) and a Wizard of Oz poster that my brother gave me as a gift.

Using vintage sheet music and show posters to make retro artwork

I wasn’t sure how my artist-and-curator husband would respond to my layout of the shapes or colours and I knew that he wouldn’t have any problem with telling me it was wrong (if it was) and taking it all down and shifting it around. But when he came home from work – yes I did the switch while he was out, what a coward – he was happy with the pictures and even went so far as to say that he loved it, so I breathed a sigh of relief and started to like it a little myself. That evening I framed one more old booklet, which was a hobbies and crafts magazine that I’d bought at a carboot sale in the summer for 50p, with the craft paper background and I think this one is my favourite – good thing really because it hangs on it’s own on the wall opposite the sofa so I spend most time looking that wall!

using vintage magazine to make retro artwork

I’m not 100% sure that these artworks will remain hanging in my living room indefinitely, but for now they look good and stop me looking like a forgetful Christmas-fanatic. I’ll probably keep an eye out for more vintage posters or sheet music covers in the future and maybe make some substitutions, but for now I’m happy with the sentiment of the images – especially the music titles ‘Prisoner of Love’, ‘I Love the Sunshine of Your Smile’ and ‘Kiss Me’ – you can’t get much more romantic than that, so I guess I’m ready for Valentines Day now – bring it on!

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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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Back to school… and I need a satchel!

Okay, okay. I know it was only last week that I declared myself ‘out’ of education for this school year. I was certain that this year was going to be the first academic year that I wasn’t going to be starting a new course or studying for another qualification. Yes, this year there would be no ceremonies to attend and no certificates arriving in the post. However…

Since writing about this during my Tuesday Shoesday blog post, I’ve had a bit of an ‘accidental’ browse online for short-courses, and have flicked through my local leisure-learning brochure. It’s an unusual change of heart, because I was actually looking forward to not writing assignments this year. But I just can’t help myself – perhaps I’m a little bit addicted to education, to gaining knowledge, and to getting new school supplies? Whatever it is, it means that I’ve impulsively signed myself up for a degree module on “Brands” at the UEA, which starts on the 14th October.

Cassiefairy blog Leisure learning classes 2013-14

So surely that means that I will need to nip to the stationery shop and pick up some new pens and folders? I already have the school shoes that caused all this in the first place. And I definitely need a new satchel. Right now. This is a school-bag emergency, people!

I’ve had a browse around my favourite bag retailers online and have discovered how difficult it is to buy a simple bag. The problem I’ve found is that many online stores don’t list the dimensions of their handbags or important details like whether it has a phone pocket or zipped section inside. Any bag that I choose needs to fit in my tablet, a notebook and all other school-related paraphernalia, so it must be the right size! I know this wouldn’t be a problem if I just went to a shop to buy my school bag – but I work in my office all day (as soon as I finish work, the shops close, it’s as if they know I’m coming…), and the internet is right there for me to make my purchase at any time of day. Plus I can have my item placed in my hands within a couple of days without stepping foot on the high street. Very convenient. But a little difficult if the item you’re shopping for needs to fit a specific item into it.

Luckily I found a shop online that sells one of my favourite bag brands Nica and includes information on bag dimensions and pocket-content. After an enjoyable browse on the Bagable website during a tea-break, I found my ideal satchel for going back to school. I had my iPad and a tape-measure to hand to check the measurements, so after a couple of the bags turned out to be too small to accommodate my tablet, I found a satchel that was exactly the right size: this Nica Estelle shoulder bag.

Cassiefairy blog Nica Estelle vintage school bag satchel

I love the minty aqua colour (one of my new favourite colours that I’ve been wearing all summer, and will look great all year round) and this bag has a gorgeous floral lining with plenty of pockets for my mobile phone and pencil case! It’s a vintage-esque design with punched-out flower pattern and cute leather tassels, which is what stood out to me when I was browsing the website – I’d never seen anything like it before. I don’t know what it is about satchels, but it wouldn’t be right to go to school without one. Maybe it’s because I read The Story of Fuzzypeg as a child – do you remember that story by Alison Uttley where a little hedgehog has his first day at school? I loved it and the illustrations of a cute hedgehog carrying a satchel by Margaret Tempest were captivating. I think that’s why I need a school satchel so much!

Cassiefairy blog Nica Estelle handbag satchel from Bagable

Well, now that I have my satchel over my shoulder, I’m all organised and ready for going back to school next week. I know a lot of my course will involve distance learning online, but at least I feel like a student again and am getting into a new mindset of preparing for deadlines and assignments. I will keep you updated with my progress this semester and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it won’t eat into my blogging time too much! So if you see the blog going quiet for a few days, at least you’ll know what I’m up to!

Happy birthday little ‘un

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