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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Exercise for the mind – dreaming about my ideal home

Do you sometimes find your mind wandering off to a place far away where it settles down on a comfy sofa to take in the stunning coastal view from your seafront property? When I’m daydreaming about my dream home, that’s exactly where my brain takes me and sometimes I can even do a tour of my imaginary home in my mind without ever leaving my desk. Hours of fun, huh? Well I’ve decided that my dream home shouldn’t be confined to my mind any longer and that sharing it on the blog will reinforce what I’d like to achieve in life. So, as a little exercise in projection and ambition, I’m going to research the realities of my dream home to give me a firm focus for the future and maybe you can do the same too!

I’m not saying that I’m unhappy with where I live at the moment – it’s in an idyllic village, on a peaceful road and is well-located (we have a train station nearby and an A road linking to all the big towns nearby) but it’s a small house and is unlikely to grow much bigger over time! This is precisely why I needed to renovate a vintage caravan to create my workshop and office space and we’re currently working on the garden to turn it into another outside room. I’m sure that I wouldn’t need to expand into the garden in my dream home because in my mind it’s already big enough inside!

coastal seaside house inspiration moodboard

Perfect seaside homes via Pinterest

I watch regularly Escape To The County on BBC (mostly when the lovely Alistair Appleton is on!) and have no trouble choosing which of the half-a-million pound houses I’d like to live in, but realistically I wouldn’t be able to afford a mortgage on a stately pile or sprawling modern luxury pad! So I’m researching where I’d like to live, what it would look like and how much this would cost me. And I’m starting with location: it needs to be near the coast, preferably with a sea-view, but more realistically it would be in-land but no further than half an hours drive from the sea. I think I prefer this kind of coastal location because as a child I lived more centrally in the country and holidays were always at the seaside so I associate the coast with happy times and relaxation. I know I wouldn’t be on a lifelong holiday if I lived in a seaside town (and I know I’d probably get naffed off with summer tourists!) but I feel sure that I’d spend more time outdoors and live a slightly slower pace of life.

So that’s the location sorted, so what about the house itself? I’d love a barn conversion. In fact, any kind of home which features large open-plan spaces and vaulted ceilings. It’s the sense of space that I’d like to achieve which, after living in bungalows for most of my life, would be a luxury. I do like the Georgian features of pretty doll’s-house-esque town houses; high ceilings, picture rails, tall windows and shutters etc, but I think a large home with these kind of period features would be way beyond my price range. I used a mortgage calculator on the Principality Building Society website and was surprised that I would be able to get a decent mortgage that I could actually afford to pay back but it wouldn’t stretch to my Georgian mansion on the seafront so I’m going for a small barn that I’d like to be able to convert myself.

I’m in no hurry to move, so my dream would be to buy an old farm building with planning permission and turn it into the home of my dreams over the course of a few years. It would have a big brick fireplace, woodburning stove or an Aga with back-boiler and solar panels on the roof because I’d like to be self-sufficient in terms of electricity and heating, as well as having a large enough garden plot grown our own veggies and be self-sufficient in the traditional sense too – although how much digging I’d actually do is anyone’s guess! I’d love to have a sun-trap walled garden that the cats would enjoy lounging in, with a hammock and alfresco dining area, then a ‘secret’ kitchen garden beyond that.

dream home barn conversion inspiration moodboard

My dream home inspiration moodboard on Pinterest

The interior of the house would look just like all the perfectly-staged houses in Country Living magazine and I’d throw in a few of our favourite mid-century pieces of furniture to make it more like the kind of home we would live in. Of course the most important thing in any house is space for a Christmas tree, so the ceiling would need to be open to the eaves so that I can fit in a massive spruce and loads of fairy lights!

This little exercise has been fun (especially hunting out images in Pinterest!) and I hope you’ll give it a go too. It’s really helped me to visualise what I’d like my future home to be and I’m interested to discover that my dreams are fairly realistic and quite possibly achievable n a few years time, which has given me something to strive towards. Can you envisage your own dream home? What would you choose and why? Let me know if you make up your own dream home blog post and I’ll share your links!

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Tips on using Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2014

Is it a big thumbs up or something you’d never ever wear? When colour trend experts Pantone announced the colour of the year I was in two minds as to whether it’s the colour for me. You may remember that last year’s colour was Emerald (which I quite liked and even made my own emerald dress!) and that we’ve previously discussed their autumn tone Mykonos Blue and how to get the look for yourself – see the blog post here. This year Pantone have announced that the shade which will be influencing trends in fashion, graphic design, interiors, beauty and product design during 2014 will be Radiant Orchid – a bright purple shade with both cool and warm tones.

Pantone describes the colour of the year as an enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones and says that it is an inspirational shade: “Radiant Orchid inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.” A colour that emits love and joy is certainly something that I should be interested in so I’ve looked into ways of incorporating the Pantone Colour of the Year 2014 into our homes and wardrobes to bring even more happiness and energy into daily life – or will it? My problem with this is that – ironically enough – purple was my favourite colour as a teenager. I therefore do a little wince every time that I see it reported that purple is making a comeback. I wore a lot of lilac, rocked deep purple velvet and even enjoyed all shades of plum at once in a tie-dyed t-shirt. And now that I’ve finally grown out of purple, are you telling me that I have to put it back on the menu again? I don’t know if I can… but here goes!

pantone color of the year 2014 radiant orchid ideas for interior design

In terms of making a welcoming home you may want to begin adding elements of Radiant Orchid to your interiors. After a few years of taupes, greys and beiges being on trend, this vibrant colour should work with existing neutrals to reenergize your home – or so Pantone says! If you want to unify your interior spaces, simply adding a few splashes of Radiant Orchid on walls or soft furnishings will help to enliven almost any colour palette and I don’t doubt that it will bring a bright and cheery feeling into your home for Spring and Summer. Children, especially, will love a more lively colour scheme and your friends and family will admire your design knowledge even though you have only spent a fraction of the cost of redecoration by adding a couple of cushion covers or an artwork in this bold colour. That’s the theory anyway – but my home is very much UN-neutral so I’m not sure that even a purple rug would work in my own home. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t look great in your home, it’s just a clash-too-far for my retro living room!

pantone color of the year 2014 radiant orchid ideas for fashion colours

All Images by Radiant Orchid 2014 on Tumblr

If you’re planning to incorporate Radiant Orchid into your spring/summer 2014 wardrobe, you may already be thinking ‘what on earth can I wear it with?’ Well, I’ve done my research and have discovered that the shade works great with those from a similar colour palette, such as purple, lilac and pink. It’s already a bright tone but if you want to make an impact with a real pop of colour, combine it with scarlet red! Similar to the interior design ideas, using Radiant Orchid as a splash of colour in your neutral wardrobe will bring your existing fashion pieces up to date and need not cost a lot to get the look – a piece of costume jewellery or a pair of colourful shoes will increase your fashionista reputation with only a handful (or should that be armful?!) of new accessories.

I think this is the most likely way that I’ll be incorporating the colour of the year into my life – I already have a cute My Little Pony t-shirt in exactly the right colour (one that I’ve never worn since I bought it around 5 years ago, maybe it’s time for the t-shirt to shine!) and I’d be more likely to invest in a handbag or bracelet rather than a whole outfit. The other problem I have with this colour is that it’s not really a colour you can find in the vintage or second-hand/charity shop market. I think everyone, like me, chucked out their purple wardrobe back in the 90s and no-one thought to reuse them as ‘vintage’ because they were so dated. So where would I even buy any ‘Radiant Orchid’ clothes? Certainly not in my normal retail stomping ground of car boot sales, retro markets or charity shops. Nope, this would probably need to be a new wardrobe investment and I’m not sure I really want to wear it that much! Still, I will keep a look out for bright pinky-purple items when I’m rummaging through the flea markets and see if I come up with anything!

pantone color of the year 2014 radiant orchid ideas for beauty colours

Pantone has discussed the use of this colour in beauty and tells us that the rosy undertones of this shade will enliven complexions and radiate on the skin. Despite looking like an unwearably strong make-up shade at first, this tone of colour (which is actually both cool and rosy at once) can be worn as an eye shadow to outline eyes and make them glisten or as a lipstick to bring a healthy glow to the skin. It’s supposed to be an almost universally flattering shade, looking great with many combinations of hair, skin and eye colour, so don’t be afraid to try out such a bright colour for yourself. I have decided that nail polish is the way to go for getting this look on a budget whilst still looking like myself!

I hope these tips have helped you to identify ways that you can incorporate Pantone’s Colour of the Year 2014 into your daily life, bringing your home and wardrobe up to date and infusing your life with the joy and energy that Radiant Orchid promises to bring!


Tuesday Shoesday ~ Slip into something comfortable

It’s Tuesday Shoesday I-wish-I-could-snooze-day. For some reason I am super-tired today, which is why your weekly hit of footwear is coming to you a little later than expected after a very slow start this morning. There’s no reason that I should be so sleepy this morning, in fact I’ve had a really rather relaxing weekend with much less rushing around than normal. Our favourite pub has started opening on Sunday afternoons so hubby and I had a particularly chilled-out Sunday of drinking tea and eating cake… very restful and sloth-like. Monday wasn’t particularly difficult either, and I was in bed by 10pm so really there is no explanation for why I’m desperate to snuggle up in my PJs and have a lie-in today.

At least something good has come out of my Sleeping-Beauty-esque mentality – today’s Tuesday Shoesday is focussing on something I’d love to be mooching around the house in right now – slippers. That’s right, the top quality pun in the title of this blog post is not there by accident, oh no. I want to discuss slippers so lets do it now!

tuesday shoesday comfortable ladies christmas slipper boots

Cinderella had completely the wrong idea with glass slippers…

Apart from the yawns that I’m currently directing at the laptop screen, I know why I want to bring your attention to how awesome slippers are. And that’s because I was given a pair by my mother a couple of weeks ago and they have hardly been off my feet since. It’s a pair of slipper-boots in a classic Christmas-jumper knit which she ordered from a newspaper special offer – a pair for her and one extra pair for me. The eagle-eyed of you will know when they arrived from their appearance on my Instagram feed! They are the kind of slippers that have no left or right foot, so I had to keep the tags on for the first week so that I knew which was which. Now that they’ve been worn in a little, it’s really obvious when I put my right foot in the left slipper – because it just feels so wrong. Who knew that feet could create such a knobbly sole that is super-lumpy on the wrong foot, but über-comfortable on the right one? And when I say comfortable, I mean a HUG for my feet, and no exaggeration!

I’ve since become one of those people who take my slippers with me when I go to visit someone at home so that I can change out of my boots into my slippers. I’d watched parents and aunts and uncles do this when they visited each other for years – my parents-in-law still bring a little hessian bag full of slippers when they pop round for a cup of tea – but I never thought that I’d ever be one of those people. How wrong I was! Do you recognise this behaviour in your own family? Maybe yourself? Is it an age thing? I hope that it’s simply because I’m fond of my funky slippers, or because I like having warm feet, or because they make me feel at home even when I’m not, rather than having morphed into my parents… gulp.

Tuesday Shoesday comfortable mens slippers

Hubby has known the joy of slippers for a while now, having picked up a pair of undeniably ‘granddaddy’ loafers from a charity shop during the year. I used to mock him for wearing them around the house, but now that I know the secret world of slipper-love, I feel bad about all the ribbing, and have taken it all back. We are now a two-slipper family and there’s no going back. Remember when I blogged about Chatty Feet on Tuesday Shoesday a couple of weeks ago? Well, those socks look excellent in a pair of slippers – so relaxed – and if hubby and I can bear to take our feet out of our slippers for long enough, our toes can have a happy conversation with each other about now comfortable they are in their foot-duvets before going back to sleep. Oh dear, I feel a nap coming on again…

So come on, is it really just me in love with their slippers or am I actually a late adopter of this footwear? Have you all had snuggly feet for years and I’ve been the only one with chilly toes? Maybe it’s just the time of year and my obsession will drop-off again in the summer? Please let me know that I’m not on my own or simply aging prematurely – there must be someone else out there with slippers on their feet as we speak and if there is, please get in touch!

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Dream a little dream… my bedroom sewing projects

At the weekend I told you all that I’d finished sewing the cushions for my bedroom that I’d been putting off for ages. I finally powered through my sewing-block and used the leftover fabric from the bottom of my bedroom blinds to rustle up a pair of cushions for the bed. It is kind of lucky that the blinds were too long for my tiny windows: although it meant I had more work to do before I could hang them – spending time trimming them to size and stitching up the hems – it also meant that I had some leftover matching fabric to use for my cushions. I used two squares of the striped fabric for the cushion fronts and to make the simple envelope cushion-backs I used a different fabric – a beige checked fabric which had previously been a single duvet set that I wasn’t ever going to use again.

DIY sew your own quilted bed runner throw

It’s been great cutting up this duvet set rather than going out to buy fabric as it has given me enough quantity to make these cushions, some cushions for my living room, the lining of a Christmas stocking for my nephew, and now it has become the back and binding tape for a bed throw. When I had a narrow strip of my striped fabric leftover, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. I knew I didn’t want to make more cushions and the base of the bed was a little bare with it’s plain white sheets. Even so, I knew there wouldn’t be enough fabric to make a proper quilt and I didn’t really want to introduce any other fabrics to expand the size of the quilt. So I decided that a bed ‘runner’ would be adequate to add a little interest at the foot of the bed – and something for the cats to sleep on, it turns out! I used three layers – the top layer of striped fabric, a thin quilting wadding from Abakhan, and the checked single duvet fabric. I pinned and stitched along the longest side of the layers to hold them in place, then I machined down the stripes to make a quilted effect without actually having to cut and stitch the quilt. It was a little fiddly to get it through the machine – especially at the centre of the runner, so I rolled it up from the edge (which you can see in the photo above) so that I didn’t have to struggle with excess fabric while sewing. After the whole runner was ‘quilted’ I used a narrow piece of the duvet fabric to make a binding and stitched this around all the edges to finish it off.

Stripe cushion and bed throw DIY sewing project on Cassiefairy blog

And here are the finished cushions and throw in the bedroom. As you can see, my cat Cookie took to it immediately and managed to curl up and go to sleep on the runner before I’d even managed to take a photo of it, and I didn’t have the heart to move her as she snored happily. Also Mrs. Rabbit likes the cushions and called for Mr. Rabbit to join her as she snuggled in but he was busy reading a book at the time so only Mrs. Rabbit made it into the photo of the cushions. Did you ever watch or read the Velveteen Rabbit as a child? I loved that story and I think that’s probably why I asked for Mr. Rabbit as a birthday present only 3 years ago and still have a pair of plush rabbits living in my bedroom!

Using books in the bedroom - DIY sewing and decorating project on Cassiefairy blog

I feel like my bedroom makeover looks more ‘complete’ now that I have cushions on the bed – I don’t know why, but it seems to finish off the bed as a focal point in the room. If you want to see how I wallpapered a feature wall using  old books please check out my blog post here. I know I’ve got plenty more that I need to sort out in the bedroom, such as storage and curtains, but I feel more like it’s getting there and at least I’ve stopped procrastinating and have broken through the sewing ‘block’. What will I make today I wonder??

More articles in my bedroom makeover series:

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A special honour for Cassiefairy

I’ve received fantastic news that my little lifestyle blog has been honoured by DotComGiftShop as one of their favourite blogs. They contacted me to let me know that I’d won this little award for my crafty sewing projects and that they had shared details of my blog on their ‘beautiful crafting blogs’ page. Here’s what they said about my blog “Whether you’re after ideas for your next homemade project or in need of room decorating ideas, you’ll find it all here at this gorgeous, girly blog. Ever wanted to revamp a pair of funky sunglasses or make your own roman blinds? It’s all here to inspire you! We especially love this blogger’s monthly sources of inspiration. She’s used everything from antique teddy bears to vintage wedding dresses, to get her creative juices flowing.”

Dotcomgiftshop badge

They even sent me a badge for my sidebar and offered me a little gift from their site. I was so chuffed to receive this recognition and it was lovely to browse their collection of gifts to choose a treat for me. I never get to shop for gifts for myself, so this was an extra-special treat. After a fun hour of online shopping I decided on this stunning ceramic cake stand with ruffled edge. It is completely beautiful and something that I’d always wanted but never really got round to buying for myself. It’s an item of crockery that you’d only really use for a celebration, so it’s suitably apt for this special occasion and I’ll definitely remember this accolade every time I use it. Plus now I’ll be able to display my birthday cake with pride next month (although I’ll probably be making it myself haha!).

vintage christmas bunting from dotcomgiftshop in my retro shabby chic caravan and ceramic cake stand

I also swooned when I saw this Christmas bunting set on sale and even though I’m trying hard not to get too excited about Christmas yet, I couldn’t help myself! It’s such a cute retro design and the duck-egg blue and pink fabric colours are perfect for my vintage caravan. It’s a really long string of cotton bunting (about 8 metres) so even my caravan will look suitably festive when I put up my Christmas decorations next month!

vintage christmas bunting from dotcomgiftshop in my retro shabby chic caravan 2013

Massive thanks to DotComGiftShop for choosing the Cassiefairy blog as one of their favourites and awarding me with this badge, I am chuffed to bits! And now that I’ve started visiting the site regularly (checking out the deal of the day!), this store has fast become one of my favourite places to shop and I’ve got a massive Christmas present wish list – I’ll keep dropping hints to hubby and keep my fingers crossed for one of those light-up bunnies! ;)


Dark, damp mornings – and that’s just my windows

I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about about damp and condensation. It’s at this time of year that I start scratching my head and wondering how a home that is so well-insulated, well-ventilated and well-heated ends up full of condensation and resulting dampness during the winter months. For most of the winter you’d be forgiven for thinking that my bedroom windows are fitted with frosted glass, but they’re not – it’s just the condensation. It’s not the most exciting topic to write about, but I simply don’t understand it and I’m hoping that someone will have the answer as to how I can keep my home warm but not damp. I’m no scientist, but condensation is caused by warm air meeting a cold surface, is that right? So a window that has been chilled from the frost outside will cause damp air to condense on it right? Yet, my living room is the warmest in the house but the windows hardly ever mist up. What’s up with that?

Home problem Damp condensation on window dripping wet

My pet peeve is being cold indoors in the winter. I love everything about being cold outside – chilly fingers, runny nose, snowball fights and all – but indoors should be warm so that I can bring myself back up to a normal temperature when I come in from the cold. This insistence that indoors will always be warm was born from a serious lack of heating in an old farmhouse we used to live in. There was no double glazing, no insulation to speak of, and a tiny fireplace (which we all know makes the air around it even colder at times) so we’ve endured a couple of freezing cold winters over the years while we were poor students – so much so that a glass of water on the bedside table froze during the night – and I won’t ever go back to living like that.

My home is now mega-insulated, double-glazed, with heaters that I know how to use, yet still I find myself having to open the windows in the morning to get rid of the dampness – and all my warm air floods out with it. You know how stingy I am, and I hate paying to warm up my air, only to have to release it back into the wild to clear the damp. I’m not using gas heaters which are notorious for emitting moisture – we only have night storage heaters – so we should have nice ‘dry’ hot air in the home. The living room is in the middle of the house so it stays warm and cosy with hardly a sniff of condensation on the windows. But why does the bathroom and bedroom – with the same heating provision – fog up but the living room doesn’t? Is it just that those rooms are damp and the living room isn’t? Without fail the bedroom window is always dripping with moisture every morning – so do we really breathe that heavily when we’re sleeping? The eagle-eyed of you may have noticed the squeegee that lives on my windowsill ready to clear the wetness – and this is something I have to do every morning.

I need answers, because I can’t carry on heating air then letting it go to clear the dampness of a room – it’s a waste of money and I’m supposed to be thrifty! What can I do to sort out the condensation/dampness in my home? Please don’t tell me to get a dehumidifier – I find it hard enough to sleep in a room with a lamp plugged in without having a dehumidifying unit buzzing away all night. Not to mention the electricity! Is there a cheap or easy way to fix this problem? I hate being cold, but I hate having a damp house – argh! Okay, rant over, I’m going to boil the kettle and run myself a hot bath… oh, wait…

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My retro living room – lovely autumnal fruit bowl

It’s raining. It’s cold. The mornings are dark. And there is condensation on my windows. Yes, I think I can officially claim that it is autumn. I know I’ve been banging on about the season for the past couple of weeks, but I’ve not really been feeling it, because it’s still been sunny and warm outside. However, it is definitely jacket-weather now, so for me, autumn has begun in Cassiefairyland.

cassiefairys retro midcentury living room design - wooden fruit bowl with autumn oranges and yankee candle

Hubby and I recently picked up a wooden fruit bowl from a carboot sale. We thought it was retro-chic and would look great in our mid-century style living room. It’s smoothly carved and therefore very pleasing to touch and is the perfect teak colour to match the rest of our slightly garish furniture. I’ve filled it with lovely oranges and peaches, and now it’s looking decidedly autumnal on our sideboard with a ‘matching’ orange candle that we received as an anniversary gift. This is fast becoming be one of my favourite pieces in our retro living room, it’s practical and useful, but beautifully made and really rather cool. Compared to our usual ‘ugly’ or ‘garish’ choices, it’s really quite pretty and can be admired by fans of modern and country interiors alike. I’m especially pleased because hubby didn’t spend more than a couple of quid on it, and I love a bargain!

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