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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What to get for the mother who has everything..!

Well she’s already got me, so what more does she need?? haha! But seriously, it’s Mother’s Day on 30th March and I know you’ll all be wanting to shower the women in your life with treats for doing that most difficult job of all. So what can you make and what would you like to buy for your ‘supermum’? I’ve done a little research to make it even easier for you to spoil your mother at the end of the month and here’s what I’ve come up with:

Make your mother a card with a detachable ‘Super Mum’ badge that she can wear all day long! This tutorial from TrimCraft blog shares DIY instructions and even a printable template for the badge so check it out and give it a go for yourself!

mothers day card ideas diy craft

Or how about taking your mum out for a special treat and spending some quality time together? I found some fantastic experience days gifts from IWOOT.com including a decadent lunch cruise on the Thames for two, which sounds like great fun for both of you! And if your mum truly is a ‘supermum’ rushing from one task to the next, perhaps she’d like the chance to unwind and relax during a spa experience? Again, you can go with your mum and have a good catch up while getting pampered!

                       mothers day experience ideas from iwoot

Another DIY idea is to pick up one of those clear plastic photo frames that you can get from pound stores and customise it to create a special family album of photos and scrapbook pages. There’s a fantastic tutorial on the Crafts Unleashed blog which shows you how to create this freestanding photobook below. It would be a perfect homemade gift for Mother’s Day and will show your mum how much you care with all the time and love you’ve put into creating an album of  special memories. Let me know if you give this a go!

 DIY mothers photo album and magazine gift ideas

Finally, for the mother who has everything – why not give her a subscription to a magazine? It’s one of MY favourite things to receive because it’s the gift that keeps on giving – she’ll love getting the magazine delivered to her all year round and will be reminded of your lovely gift each time. Don’t worry if you have no idea what magazines she already reads – simply hop onto the Unique Magazines website (where I have already subscribed to Ethical Consumer magazine!) and find a publication that she won’t have come across before but that fits in with her interests – does she enjoy cooking, crafting, gardening, fashion, pets? There’s something for every taste so check it out.

Let me know if you try out any of these tutorials for Mother’s Day crafts and which gifts you pick out to treat your mother at the end of March. I always find that time runs away with me in March, so I hope to have time to sort out a lovely treat for my own mother and I’m sure there’ll be baking involved – check out my cupcake recipes to make a yummy batch of mum’s favourite cakes!


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Take inspiration from Cher Horowitz & make your own fashion lookbook

I’ve recently been thinking about making my own personal ‘look book’. Imagine Cher from Clueless flicking through her e-wardrobe to choose her outfits each morning, but even more old-school in a ‘what-works-with-what’ outfit book. I plan to photograph each item in my wardrobe then I’d take some snaps of me wearing the items in different combinations so that I could flick through and pick out an outfit in no time at all. Okay, it’s a just little bit of fun for me and no-one else will ever need it (or even see it!) but I think it would make me experiment more with my clothes rather than wearing the same go-to outfit over and over again. I’ll finally stop being one of the many people who only wear 20% of their wardrobe 80% of the time and really start to get my money’s worth out of my clothes! Plus it’ll save me time in the morning when I need to choose an outfit in a hurry.

cher horowitz computerised wardrobe - clothing fashion

I’m sure I wasn’t the only teenage girl who wanted to get my hands on computerised wardrobe?!

Blurb is a cool self-publishing company that lets you make books about anything that interests you. And if you’re interested in fashion and style as I am – and love to show it off – making a book of your personal fashion is a fantastic way to capture your sartorial genius for all time. Whether you want it just for yourself, so you can look through your greatest hits, or you’re a bit of an Internet fashionista who wants to make a book to sell, I’ve found these tips on fashion photography pretty helpful:

It’s all about lighting. To make your fashion really pop, choose natural light or some studio light with a soft box (you can even make one from a lamp and last season’s white t-shirt). If you’re using a flash, you’ll probably want to bounce it or stick a diffusion filter on it.

Make a shot list. This is a critical step, and even more important if you are photographing models. Even if your model is just your best friend who owes you a favor, they’ll appreciate it if you know exactly what you want to shoot. Think about the poses you want to capture, the outfits you want them to wear, and the details that you want to highlight in every shot.

White balance (WB). Accurate colour and skin tones come from making sure the WB function on your camera is set to your lighting situation.

Choose the right lens/zoom setting. If you’re using a wide angle, you’re going to lose your beautiful lines (and your model may never forgive you). If you have a camera with different zoom levels, zoom out to minimize lens barrel distortion.

Keep it stylish. It’s a fashion shoot, after all. Play music, keep things moving, try new angles. Attitude, attitude, attitude.

Dress it up. Make your book as fashionable as the clothing featured in it. Choose a simple design that doesn’t upstage the clothing, but still looks chic. Pick a size and paper type that showcases the work brilliantly.

If you’ve ever paid attention to what’s on the catwalk, you know that fashion means different things to different people. Follow your own fashion obsessions and document them in a fashionable book. If you look good today in person, imagine looking great forever on the printed page. I’ll let you know how I get on!


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Tuesday Shoesday ~ YOUR shoes

If someone asked you to show them your favourite shoes, which pair would you pick and why? That’s exactly what I’ve asked my lovely readers to do and I’m pleased to report that lots of bloggers were able to answer that difficult question! I’ve compiled the images that all you fabulous fashionistas have been sending in to share with you all this Tuesday Shoesday. It’s been SO interesting to see how different their favourite footwear is and to read the reasons why these shoes have made the top of their list. If you’d like to join in with the discussion, why not send me a pair of your favourite shoes and be featured in a future Tuesday Shoesday article? Email me Cassie@Cassiefairy.co.uk and in the meantime have a read of all these fabulous stories:

Vicki from hen party planners Dizzy Events sent me the photo below of a pair of Mary Jane heels that she bought from Topshop years ago; “I have LOADS of shoes, far too many in fact but these always stand out because of the memories attached to them. My best friend Taya (co-thinker-upper of Dizzy Events) and I decided on a whim one Friday night that we’d meet outside Topshop on Oxford Street, ignore our diminutive bank balances and buy a pair of shoes. She bought a red pair and I bought these. Then we went out-out. It’s always remembered as The Night Of The Whimsical New Shoes and I don’t think we’ll ever be able to do that again, now that we’re older and responsible with our money (sort of).  They’re my favourite Impulse Shoes.” What a fabulous story – I need to go shopping for impulse shoes more often!

tuesday shoesday blogger favourite shoes dizzy events and brogues from remotely fashion

I first encountered writer and stylist Miriam during her inspirational talk at London Fashion Weekend where she and graphic designer Siobhan discussed their corner of the blogosphere Remotely Fashion and blogging within the fashion industry. They are the worthy winners of The Clothes Show Live Fashion Blogger of the Year Award so I was pretty excited to see which shoes Miriam had chosen as her favourites – these gold brogues above; “Now in their 7th year, they’re looking a little bit worse for wear, but I have yet to find a suitable replacement for my ‘dancers’!” I am completely in love with my brogues too so I know how she feels!

The creative ladies from The New Craft Society and winners of Cosmopolitan’s Best Craft Blog award got in touch to share their joint favourite shoes – Hannah and Rosie both chose their comfy Vans trainers; “We both love our Vans because they’re so easy to throw on and go. R’s are in a limited edition Liberty print whereas H’s are more basic and significantly more worn! When holes start to appear in the toes you know it’s time for a new pair!” Very true! I get through a few pairs of cheapie trainers each year, so I’ve been inspired to splash out on a decent pair this summer – especially if I can find some as beautiful as these!

tuesday shoesday favourite shoes from glitter daze and the new craft society trainers

Jenna from Glitter Daze blog couldn’t decide between her two favourite pairs of shoes – so she sent me photos of both: “I love both these pairs – the diamante pair because they are sparkly and I got them in the January sales, and the grey pair because they are so comfortable and I wore them to a friends wedding last year which I loved.” Jenna is a finalist in the wedding category of the National Blog Awards so perhaps she’ll wear one of these gorgeous pairs to the awards ceremony in April?!

Lucy from inspirational blog LucyLovesYa got in touch to share her favourite pair of trainers. If you’ve already read her blog, you’ll know how much she loves Converse and that she has quite a collection going on, so it must have been difficult to choose just one pair! “Being a mega Converse fan, my eyes popped out of my head when I saw these! I so wanted to be Wonder Woman when I was little. Just daren’t wear them too much incase they get ruined :)” I completely understand because I too had a lovely pair of cute patterned Babycham trainers that I liked so much that I didn’t want to ruin them by wearing them, but now they have tucked away in their shoebox for the past 3 years and have barely been on my feet so maybe it’s time to get them out again!

tuesday shoesday lucy loves ya and confessions of a fashion stylist blog shoes

Industry professional Janelle from Confessions of a Fashion Stylist sent me these photos of her stunning metallic strappy heels – bang on trend for Spring/Summer 2014 and super-glamourous! She says “I love these shoes because they’re perfect for a dressy look or add an instant touch of glam to a casual look.  I pair these with boyfriend jeans and a clutch as one of my favourite looks.” The metallic trend is massive right now so I’m super-jealous of these gorgeous sandals – although I’m not sure I could walk in those killer heels!

Photographer Claire from Lacey in Places shared some lovely images of her top pumps below along with a story of her childhood recollections of where her passion for shoes began; “When I was little, every weekend I used to look forward to visiting my grand parents so I could watch the Wizard of Oz on video tape. I managed to successfully beg my mum for a shiny, patent pair of red t-bar shoes from Clarks. I used to pretend I was Dorothy, being transported to a new land to meet scarecrow, tin man and the lion, then clicking my heels to go home. I hadn’t owned a pair of red shoes for years, until my friend Becky bought me these red Dune shoes. I fell in love with them, they are soo comfy and I love the splash of colour they add to any outfit. These shoes have been with me to so many new lands as I love to explore new places from Morocco, the Caribbean to trips closer to home.  I have many happy memories whilst wearing these shoes, including celebrating my 30th Birthday at work, where my friends decided to advertise how old I was!!”
tuesday shoesday favourite shoes lacey in places
In summary: Comfort is key, with lots of contributers sending in photographs of their trainers or their old faithful shoes. When heels have been chosen it’s because they are a comfortable pair of heels and the wearer can dance the night away in them. You may notice that I haven’t actually shared my favourite shoes with you, and that’s because I simply cannot choose between them! But I will make a shortlist and share them in a future blog post. I know that a few more readers are in the process of sending me photos and stories about their favourite shoes so I’m going to share another article about YOUR favourite shoes during April. If you’ve been inspired to contribute after reading all these stores above please send me your photos to cassie@cassiefairy.co.uk – I can’t wait to see what shoes YOU love the most!


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This cake stand is rubbish…

And I mean literally. I know it might seem a bit manky or downright gross, but I fished this cake stand out of a skip. Yes, I rescued this decorative plate from the bin. I pulled it right out of landfill. Okay maybe that’s going a step too far, but it had been thrown away and was found in a skip. It wasn’t broken, chipped or cracked and the only thing that I can see that might be slightly wrong with it is that the gilded edge is faded in places – but surely that just adds to the charm of a vintage cake stand?

recycled cake stand upcycled from skip

It’s had a long soak and good scrub since being hauled out of the rubbish pile, but here it is, clean as a whistle and looking pretty nice – I even like the blousey floral pattern and will happily add it to my collection of vintage crockery. What I can’t understand is why things like this are going to the tip without being offered to others first? why waste something that still serves its purpose? Even if the pattern is not to your taste, there are plenty of makeover projects for crockery that I’ve pinned on my Pinterest boards, so it’s a great thing to have, even if it’s going to be upcycled!

spring floral cake stand saved from skip

The same thing happens to me when I go to the dump with my recycling: I always see something that I’d be able to make use of in one of the massive bins but unfortunately once something has been thrown into those massive recycling containers, you’re not allowed to take it out – those are the rules. And I’m sure it’s a health and safety issue, but it seems such a waste of resources. I should also point out that you must always ask permission before taking anything out of a skip and luckily for me I’d already asked about taking bits out of this particular skip in the past ad I know that the owner was happy for me to have a rummage. Have you found anything interesting in a skip recently? Have you upcycled something that was destined for landfill? Let me know, I’d be good to know that I’m not the only one being a little bit gross when I pull some goodies out of the bin!


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My first ever blog post…

On Friday I celebrated 3 years of blogging with a big chocolate chip sponge cake after accidentally finding out that my blog had reached this milestone. I was also treated to a big bottle of bubbly and am now looking forward to my 1000th blog post celebration in May – bring it on! Coincidentally, during Fairtrade Fortnight the previous week I wrote about my first ever attempt at blogging which was a Students’ Union Fairtrade challenge documented on my first ever blog for the Lancashire Evening Post back in 2007. Not long after sharing this news my mother got in touch to tell me that this was not my first ever blog post and she had evidence that I’d been a blogger for a lot longer… And here it is:

cassiefairy blogger first ever blog post

Apparently THIS was my first ever blog post! Even though I was about 5 years old and the Internet wouldn’t be invented until the next decade, mum insists that this must have been my first ever attempt at blogging. It’s all about a trip to nanny’s house where I ate a “pice of cake” and my brother rode on his “sacket gord” (skateboard) in the “gardon”. Perhaps I’m being a little harsh on myself and that ‘g’ a really just very swish ‘b’? Anyway, what do you think of my first ever news article? Blog-worthy?

In other news, I started to do more research on Fairtrade and Traidcraft after writing about the fortnight on the blog and was pointed in the direction of Ethical Consumer magazine. It aims to discover the truth behind the products we buy and the companies we buy them from through detailed product guides, news of ethical products and campaigns, in-depth features etc so I have decided to subscribe. I’ve signed up for a 6 month subscription through Unique Magazines – which means I’ll receive 3 bi-monthly issues – and I can’t wait for the first one to arrive. While I was browsing the site, I found another couple of ‘unique’ magazine subscriptions that I’d not heard of before and would like to try out such as Grow It and Making magazine. They also sell individual copies of magazines so I can give it a try before subscribing and can have access to a range of US titles too. I’ve just found the perfect gift on the website too but can’t tell you who it’s for in case they read the blog, eek! Anyway, I’ll share more about Ethical Consumer magazine when the first issue of my subscription arrives so watch this space!

And finally, what do you think I should do to celebrate my 1000th blog post? A party? Write and share a free E-book? Another cake? A big giveaway? Get in touch with your suggestions!


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Have you wiped your feet on the Comedy Carpet?

Have you stomped your mucky boots all over the carpet? Have you laughed as you scuffed your trainers over the floor? Did you wipe your feet? I am of course referring to Blackpool’s Comedy Carpet, a seafront installation by artist Gordon Young which forms part of the seaside town’s regeneration project and is now a must-see feature of the promenade.

I visited this artwork/landmark/feature a while back (as you can probably tell from the photos it was very cold on the seafront during the winter and I was well bundled up!) but I wanted to share the photos with you and let you know what a great addition to Blackpool’s promenade it is. The artwork’s blurb reads as follows “the Comedy Carpet is a celebration of comedy on an extraordinary scale. Referring to the work of more than 1,000 comedians and comedy writers, the carpet gives visual form to jokes, songs and catchphrases dating from the early days of variety to the present. Sited in front of Blackpool Tower, the 2,200m2 work of art contains over 160,000 granite letters embedded into concrete, pushing the boundaries of public art and typography to their limits.” And I have to say it is a pretty amazing sight to behold. My friends and I spent hours walking over the comedy carpet, reading all the jokes and calling each other over “Have you seen this Tommy Cooper one?” etc.

comedy carpet blackpool peter kay eddie izzard chuckle brothers

I took the above photos because they are all my favourites: I got kinda excited when I spotted the Eddie Izzard birds quote and my pal Kerry and I had fun recreating the Chuckle Brothers’ “to me… to you…” with our invisible ladder! I photographed “Next Muffin” not knowing what comedy it referred to, but simply because my cat is called Muffin, so if you know what the joke is please let me know. We all had a really great time looking around the comedy carpet, even though it was dark and very cold by the time we started walking it. I’d like to come back in the daylight so I am planning on incorporating it in my trip up north this summer. Apparently there’s even a map and guide book to the Comedy Carpet and I’m sure I missed out on seeing 100s of quotes what with all the running from one joke to the next, so I’m really looking forward to going back and keeping myself amused for hours on end!


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Pieday Friday ~ Chocolate chip sponge cake to celebrate a milestone

Today I have reached an unexpected milestone. My thrifty little lifestyle blog is three years old! I didn’t realise that this anniversary was approaching and although I’d started thinking about what I might to do celebrate my 1000th post (coming up in April) I didn’t really think about the length of time that I’d been blogging. Luckily I was looking back at old Pieday Friday blog posts yesterday when I scrolled back so far that I reached the start of my blog and there it was – my first ever post on 14th March 2011. Even though I’d been writing blog posts on my shop website on and off for a year or so before moving to WordPress, it was the transfer of my blog to this domain that really kick-started my blogging career and the last three years have flown by!

So I couldn’t let this anniversary pass without a mention and, more importantly, I couldn’t let it slip by without baking myself a cake, yaaay! Okay, I don’t need much of an excuse to bake a cake, but I’ve been a bit lacking in the deserts department recently and I’d had my eye on a few cake recipes that I’d pinned to my sweet recipes board on Pinterest. So after my discovery of this milestone yesterday I headed to the kitchen, got out the scales, wrapped an apron around myself and whipped up this little beauty.

white and milk chocolate chip sponge cake recipe

Ingredients: 125g self raising flour, 125g butter, 2 eggs, 125g sugar, 100g white chocolate, 100g milk chocolate.

Cream the sugar and butter together with an electric whisk until light and fluffy then add the two eggs and beat well. Chop the chocolate into small pieces (or use chocolate chips!) and combine with the flour before adding to the egg mixture. Mix thoroughly and divide into two sandwich cake tins. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees for 20-25 minutes and test with a skewer (or a piece of uncooked spaghetti!) and if it comes out clean, the sponge is cooked.

pieday friday white and milk chocolate chip sponge cake recipe

For the filling: Melt 175g milk chocolate with 100ml milk then set aside to cool completely before adding 100g lightest cream cheese and 100g icing sugar to thicken the mixture. Spread the chocolate filling between layers then melt white chocolate and pour over the top of the cake. Grate a little milk chocolate on to the top to garnish – and if you grate it on while the white chocolate is still warm from melting, the curls of milk chocolate will soften into the white chocolate and set into it in a curly pattern!

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