Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog

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


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 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 – I can’t wait to see what shoes YOU love the most!


Building your own personal brand ~ brand purpose & the next step

I might be a little bit slow to catch on but I’ve just found out that most of the world has been calling Wednesdays ‘Hump Day’. I’ve heard it a few times and some of the US-based books I’ve been reading have been referring to hump day, but I’ve only just googled it and found out the meaning of this nickname. It’s always been a mystery to me as to why I have less oomph on a Wednesday and sometimes get into a big sulk because I don’t want to do any work – but now I know that everyone else is feeling the same and that that there’s even a ‘technical’ term for it, so it’s not just me, phew! In honour of hump day, I’ve procrastinated this morning and had a reading session rather than getting on with writing this blog post, but I’m here now and ready to roll. So welcome to another Hump Day and I hope you’re feeling as optimistic about getting over the ‘hump’ of Wednesday into the downhill slide towards the weekend as I am. It’s a particularly fun weekend coming up for me because it’s Valentine’s Day on Friday which will mean I get at least a few hours of my husband’s undivided attention. I also have a fun first-weekend-in-half-term planned which includes a car boot sale rummage, afternoon tea with my husband’s family and a naughty night out with my BFF and her boyfriend. After this little glimpse into the impending weekend I think I can cope with this hump day well.

Anyway, onto the topic in hand. A couple of weeks ago I told you all that I’d just finished my leisure-learning course on Secret Power of Brands – a degree-level course from the University of East Anglia. Although I enjoyed the course, it was very business-focussed throughout and I learnt a lot about the history and methods of branding. It wasn’t until the very last lesson that my imagination was sparked by the content – creating your own personal brand. Now this was relevant to me! And, I figured, was quite relevant to a few of you too. So I posted a little article about the course and was overwhelmed by the response from fellow bloggers, writers and pals who were making over their CVs and online profiles. I couldn’t leave it there and went on to share all of the questions needed to determine the three elements of building a personal brand:

Each of the segments above have a number of questions to answer in order to determine your answer to each section – click on the links above to complete the questions for yourself and you’ll find it easier to find out what your passions, skills and positions are. I am particularly lazy with doing self-help tasks like this and probably wouldn’t have actually completed these questions if I hadn’t been blogging about it, so if you really feel like you can’t be bothered, maybe write down your answers in a blog post and send me the link to share – at least you’ll feel like you’re doing something worthwhile with your time rather than just faffing around with branding jargon. The questions really did help me focus on myself and my abilities and has even led me in a slightly new direction in my work and I’m hoping to incorporate it into my blog as I go on – so I’d really recommend that you have a go at doing it! Once you have the answers to the questions you’ll have determined your brand purpose and can work on showing it off to the world. Here’s an example of what Richard Branson’s three segments would look like so that you can get an idea of how each section contributes to the overall brand purpose:

richard bransons personal brand purpose UEA

Sorry about the blurry image – it’s a slideshow from FutureLearn

My segments are: I am passionate about sustainable living and saving money through thrift and recycling/upcycling. I am good at communicating, research and sharing knowledge through writing. The world needs to know about the impact of making ethical decisions and the importance of creativity. My brand purpose is therefore: Create and communicate written content which encourages an economically and ecologically friendly lifestyle. So you can expect to see more of this on the blog soon! I know I already share bits here and there about recycling, thrift and charity in all areas of life but now that I have a brand purpose, it will influence most of my work and I will be more likely to create cohesive content – plus I’ll feel that my work is more worthwhile. Or at least I hope it will be!

At this stage the course sums up by suggesting looking at how you can implement your brand purpose in the future. For me, it’s as simple as making positive changes to the blog. But for people in other roles, who may be writing a CV or thinking about a change in career direction based on their brand purpose, it’s about making the positive changes happen. So here’s what to do next::

  • Appoint your own personal advisory board – choose six people who can help you achieve your ambition, ask each one if they will be on your informal ‘board’, usually they’re delighted to!
  • Ask for help with things you’re unsure of and see if one of your ‘board’ would become a mentor for you.
  • Publish yourself – get your ideas out into the world and your content will earn you respect
  • Coordinate your personal profiles online so that they all point towards a shared direction for your personal ‘brand’

I really hope that the sharing of my progress through the personal branding section of the course has helped you and if you’re interested in taking the course for yourself, the UEA are running it again as a completely free online course via Future Learn – it starts on 24th Feb and you can complete it at home and in your own time. I just want to point out that I’m not sharing a sponsored link or promoting the course or anything like that, I’m just sharing the info so that you guys don’t miss out if you fancy doing it for yourself! Let me know how you get on with implementing your own personal brand and drop me a line if you need a helping hand with anything – I’m always here to help! :)


Building your own personal brand – what does the world need to know?

Good news on a rather cloudy Thursday – we have finally arrived at the third segment on the subject of personal branding and I’m sharing the last set of questions in order to determine your personal brand purpose. I am so surprised by the great reaction I’ve had from bloggers, job-hunters, brands, tweeters and friends on the articles I’ve been writing over the past couple of weeks on the subject of personal branding. It seems like everyone can get something out of answering the questions I’ve been posting to answer ‘What am I good at?‘ and ‘What am I passionate about?’. Whether we have a shop, blog or are writing a CV, it’s been a good starting point for us to really think about what makes us special and what we want to do in life.

We’ve previously chatted about the course that I was studying, the ‘Secret Power of Brands’, and at the very least I was hoping that I’d be able to share a little more about myself and my life with you all by answering the personal branding questions ‘in public’. In truth, I probably wouldn’t have got round to answering the questions at all if it had been left up to me to do it on my own, but going through them for the benefit of us all has forced me to consider each answer carefully and has actually resulted in me having a little bit of a rethink about my work. Have you been answering the questions too? What conclusions have you made so far? Here are the last set of questions which aim to answer the question ‘What does the world need to know?’.

personal brand purpose UEA

Sorry for the blurry image, it’s one of the slides from the UEA Secret Power of Brands course.

Identify issues or themes affecting your industry or line of work My greatest problem within my industry is the level of competition. I don’t mean competitiveness, although undoubtedly this does go on, but I just choose to ignore it because (other than during music quizzes) I’m not at all competitive. I mean the sheer volume of other people doing the same things that I am doing; writing and blogging. First of all, the global nature of blogging means that I have a whole world of amazing blogs to compete with and could not possibly find out every single one of my blog ‘competitors’ because there are millions… And even in my subject sector (what exactly is that? thrift? fashion? DIY? lifestyle? food?) there are just too many for me to even research. In terms of writing, when I am aiming for national publications, I’m competing with all the other talented journalists in the country who all want to land a great article job or regular column for a digital publication. No doubt we all have our own specialisms and writing styles but again it’s a tough industry to break into and maintain a career in due, in part, to the vast numbers of ‘competition’.

What’s currently broken? I think that there is a proliferation of digital publications and blogs who are not generating new content but are simply reposting other people’s ideas and content, writing lists and relying on images and less on writing or being creative. Some websites are specialists at this and I am happy to read them and even use them as a resource but when there are so many amazing writers out there, it seems a shame that publishers want to commission shorter written articles and more of these ‘top 5 of such and such..’ posts.

What is the competition failing at? Possibly monetising their work. If bloggers and writers were being paid properly and regularly they would be able to dedicate more time to their work and the standard of their content would perhaps be better. I’m not saying that a half-an-hour post is any less important than something that has been researched and written over a week – I myself can really spurt something out quickly if I’m passionate and knowledgeable about the subject – I just want all writers to be given the means to be more creative in their work and needing to write a large volume of content quickly in order to pay the bills is never the best way to inspire creativity and new ideas.

How could your skills help? I think that my passion comes across in my writing – or at least I hope it does – and this will help my writing to stand out amongst all the other articles out there. I hope that I can create happy relationships with my readers – who I usually chat with as friends too! – and that they will come back to read my work wherever it is published. Therefore my writing will hopefully continue to land me more commissions and contracts so that I may dedicate more time to my ‘art’ and spend time researching, writing, photographing and creating engaging new content.

And that’s all for this section. I’ve actually not enjoyed answering these questions as much as the previous two segments and I think that’s because the questions have taken a negative stance, you know how much I hate to be a sour-puss. At least I have determined what I don’t want my work to become! Plus, I have found out that money is more important to me than I thought, something that I never thought I’d say – all of us artists, writers, crafters and creatives do what we do because we love it and would do it anyway even if we were not being paid – but I’ve found out that more paid work would enable me to spend more time on my work and perhaps better improve the quality of my research and writing – maybe! I don’t want to compete with ‘everyone in the world’ but I do want to carry on making an impact in my own corner of the world.

How have you found answering these questions? As difficult as I did? What results do you have for the ‘what does the world need to know’ segment? There is one final post on it’s way to analyse your ultimate brand purpose and how to work with this in the future so please check back soon to finish off this project with me :)


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


Building your own personal brand ~ What are you good at?

Last week I started a bit of a discussion on personal branding and I’ve been surprised by the amount of positive responses I’ve had to this mini-series. Even well-established bloggers – people that I think already have a much stronger brand than I do – have been getting in touch to say how much it has helped and that they are looking forward to the next instalment. We’ve previously chatted about the ‘Secret Power of Brands’ course in my initial blog post on the subject and have discussed the first step in personal branding – answering the questions that discover “What are you passionate about?”. So I can’t keep my pals waiting any longer and here is the second set of questions for us all to attempt to answer today. Sorry for the blurry image, it has been taken from a slideshow from the UEA course I’ve just finished studying.

personal brand purpose UEA

Today I’m going to try answering the questions below in order to address the “What are you good at?” section. Have a go at answering these questions for yourself and you’ll be another step closer to creating your own personal brand. Of course, I’m already cringing a little about sharing my achievements etc and I really don’t want my answers to sound like I’m writing responses to a job application form, but I guess these questions are designed for that very reason; to develop an understanding of our own abilities and to be able to ‘sell’ ourselves – and in some cases to create a CV – as a personal brand. So here goes…

What is your biggest strength? I’m going to say communication here. I’m not talking about simply talking, because I’m not always fantastic at small-talk and chit-chat, but I enjoy a proper conversation, a debate, an intelligent exchange. I’m good at written communication and some of my best conversations are published on this very blog. Plus I have studied Makaton for a long time, so can communicate physically too, even with those who have trouble communicating in the traditional sense. I am a great pen pal.

What is your personal superpower? Without a doubt, my personal superpower is empathy. I care deeply for other people (and even animals) and can always put myself into another person’s shoes and really feel what they are feeling. This makes me more emotional than I’d like to be at times but I’m sure that my empathetic nature has led me to develop fantastic friendships.

Why would someone work with you? I have a cheery disposition (just like Mary Poppins, eh?!) and I am also very helpful and will take time to assist others in their projects. I guess this is why I like to join in with guest posts and blog challenges now that I’m a blogger – I like to work with others on a shared outcome which benefits us both – so maybe I ought to join in with more of this kind of thing. Let me know if you have a project you’d like me to join in with and I will probably jump at the change.

What do colleagues get from you? Someone who can be trusted to work unsupervised and get the work done on or before a deadline. They will also get honest advice and I like to teach others how to do things if they don’t already have knowledge of the task. They will get my time, energy and enthusiasm. I genuinely want everyone to reach their full potential and am a good cheerleader.

What roles or activities have you excelled in previously? I’m going to answer this in terms of what tasks I have enjoyed most in the past, because I’ve never not given 100% in every role I’ve worked in but that doesn’t mean that I have always liked it! I worked as a research intern after finishing university and I really looked forward to working on the project every day and getting excellent results. In my very first job as a marketing assistant for a publishing house, I found that I did my best work during research and editorial tasks. Within both of these roles I liked being autonomous and preferred the writing element of the work.

What are your biggest achievements so far? My biggest achievements are gaining a first class degree and a masters degree with distinction, which I now realise also probably shows my preference for and ability to work independently, read, research, write, design and communicate well. Obviously I need to mention the blog which has led to lots of opportunities for writing articles for other publications – something I’ve always wanted to do but never really realised before I began blogging – I was always good at writing as a teen but fought against this because I didn’t want to be a ‘square’ at school. I’m also going to count a ten year marriage, strong friendships, happy family life and teaching my nephew new things among my biggest achievements and I honestly think personal achievements outweigh educational or career success in my mind.

So let me know how you get on with answering these questions and developing an answer to the “What are you good at?” section on the brand purpose chart above. I think my overall discovery is that I am good at writing, research, independent working, learning, teaching, sharing and developing relationships. It all seems a bit obvious now that I’ve written it down, because that’s basically what I’m doing every day through the blog and in my life, but until you write it down and really think about it, I don’t think you really know yourself all that well! At least I’ve found out that I’m more-or-less doing what I should be doing in life already and that I ought to focus on developing my current ‘career’ rather than searching for something else. What have you found out by answering these questions? Leave me a comment below, I’d love to know!

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Thrifty fashion ~ ideas for cheap festive party outfits

As you know, I regularly blog about thrifty fashion and DIY fashion hacks on the Oxfam fashion blog. Oxfam has asked me to share my favourite party dress with all their wonderful readers and I thought I’d show you it too:

cassiefairy thrifty charity shop chirstmas party dress festive outfit for oxfam fashion blog

My party dress was bought for me by thrifty mother who spotted it in our local Oxfam shop. I love the loose style and above-the-knee length, and the silver pleated fabric is perfect for the party season. I feel like Carrie wearing her blue Halston layered dress in the second Sex and the City film when I wear this dress! For parties and nights out I wear it with a black blazer with sequined lapels and cuffs which I found at a carboot sale. I wore it for a couple of Christmas parties last year and I kept warm by wearing black thermal tights underneath! I finish off the outfit with sparkly black heels (from another charity shop!) and I’ve also worn this dress to a summer wedding with a bright pink blazer and wedge sandals instead. It was a great charity-shop find and I’m sure I’ll be wearing again for festive parties this year!

Please check out the party dress article on Oxfam Fashion Blog and have a look at all the other Oxfam bloggers’ festive party outfits too – it’s great to get ideas for cheap party outfits and it’s amazing what gorgeous fashion looks these thrifty bloggers have been able to create on a charity-shop budget! And let me know if you’ve found any party bargains in a charity shop recently – I’d love to see your photos so please tweet me @cassiefairy :)

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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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