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!


How amazing do these women look at the Oscars?!

I don’t know how they do it and I am completely jealous of their eternally youthful looks, but I also admire these long-standing actresses for their achievements over the years – as well as for still looking amazing after years in the business. The spotlight has been shining on these women for a lot longer than most yet they continue to shock me with how young and fresh they looked at the 2014 Oscars. I don’t want this blog post to be all about age and how these ladies ‘still’ look good after ‘all these years’, but it has surprised me how much more I enjoyed seeing these grown-up women on the red carpet in their gorgeous gowns compared to the barely-out-of-their-teens actresses that Hollywood seems to favour a little too often.

While I was flicking through images of the Oscars I was stopped in my tracks by some of the gorgeous women but I get rather tired of looking at a slightly grumpy Kristen Stewart or yet another snap of the ‘new fashionista’ Emma Watson so the first photo that I was taken aback by was this stunning image of Sandra Bullock. She doesn’t look a day older than when she started acting and looks effortlessly demure in a navy blue McQueen gown. I wish I looked this good right now, let alone in 20 years time! Where are her wrinkles? How is her skin glowing like that? Look at that healthy head of shiny hair! She can’t really be 49, can she?? I want to be Sandra Bullock and I don’t care who knows it!

Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock Oscars 2014 fashion from The Guardian

Images c/o The Guardian

Another woman who looks as fresh-faced and gorgeous as ever is Julia Roberts. At 46 years old she’s still one of the most stunning women on the red carpet and her mega-watt smile will always in demand – that’s the snap that every photographer is trying to get! With an amazing figure in her black lace Givenchy gown and time-defying skin, she has inspired me with her hardworking nature and ballsy attitude over the years. I’d rather see Julia on the red carpet, looking classically beautiful, than any of the young whipper-snappers that are coming up behind her.

The ultimate Hollywood couple Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith couldn’t have looked better than when they strutted arm-in-arm down the red carpet at the Academy Awards. They both look amazing and Will is definitely still the Fresh Prince! If my hubby and I can still be this cute together in 15 years time I’ll be happy! I love their youthful energy and check out their fun attitude in this Oscars 2014 video on YouTube:

I think these women are an inspiration for women like me who are getting older and need to know that it’s okay to grow old gracefully and that it is possible to look your best at any age. Finally I’d like to include some of my favourite women – or should I say Hollywood stalwarts? – in this blog post. Here’s Liza Minelli who is the very definition of fabulous without worrying what others think (just look at that blue hair!), along with Glenn Close rocking her curves in this structured Zac Posen outfit and the ever cool Meryl Streep confidently wearing Lanvin. After years of hard work Meryl has become Hollywood royalty and walks the red carpet alongside women a third of her age whilst looking more amazing than all of them – and that can only be an inspiration to us all!

Glenn Close Liza Minelli and Meryl Streep Oscars 2014 fashion from the guardian

Images c/o The

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Trend inspiration from the SS14 Julien Macdonald catwalk show

Today I am sharing an exclusive look at womenswear fashion trends for Spring/Summer 2014 because last weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to attend London Fashion Weekend at the world famous Somerset House in London. I took hundreds of photographs during the day in order to document the hottest trends at fashion week and I wanted to share these with you so that you can get a flavour of the must-have looks for this season and next.

The hottest ticket at London Fashion Weekend was to super-star designer Julien Macdonald’s runway show and I managed to sweet-talk myself into getting a ticket at the last minute – so you can imagine my excitement as I took my seat to watch the super-glamorous designs waltzing down the catwalk.

metallics at Julien Macdonald London Fashion Weekend 2014

The runway show featured an abundance of crystals and sequins and each of the designs followed the new season metallic trend. The stunning outfits were created in gold, pewter, silver and metallic black for a super-sparkly shimmer and we will certainly be seeing these metallic tones reproduced in stores for Spring and Summer 2014. If you don’t want to go for the all-over sequins look, you can simply add a few diamantés in your jewellery or choose a metallic shoe or handbag to follow the trend without being a slave to fashion!

Sequins and Lace at Julien Macdonald London Fashion Weekend 2014

Interestingly the Julien Macdonald dresses were either skin-tight or loose and floating, using stretch lace and chiffon in equal measures, so you can take your pick of which look to follow this season. I would suggest the skin-tight lace and sequins are best suited to evening wear and the flowing chiffon would be better for keeping cool on hot summer days.

Another feature of the designer runway show was soft pastel colours. Traditionally we usually see more pale shades during Spring and Summer and the Julien Macdonald dresses also featured pastel green, pale grey, sofa lilac and nude shades alongside the bold black and metallic block colours. The delicate shades looked fresh and are an easier way to introduce the new season trends into your everyday wardrobe.

julien macdonald spring summer 2014 at london fashion weekend

Taking inspiration from this catwalk show, I’ve found an affordable alternative in the form of custom-made dress designers who make stunning dresses for special occasions. I’ve just been invited to the National Blog Awards ceremony in London and the dress code is ‘Dress to Impress’ so while not needing a full-on ballgown, I do need something special and I want to use the inspiration that I saw on the catwalk while choosing my new dress. I’m definitely going to be choosing sequins and glitz so here are some of my favourites (below) which combine sparkle with the chiffon and lace fabrics seen on the runway. I’ve also picked out pastel colours to further follow the trend and I hope to be able to get the Julien Macdonald look for a fraction of the price.

designs inspired by julien macdonald ss14 catwalk show from 1dress

The sparkly mirrored dress above reminds me of the exhibition dresses at London Fashion Weekend and the glittery nude dress is a slightly more wearable version of the Julien Macdonald catsuit above that Jessie J wore to the Brits! I think the combination of black and gold is more my kind of thing and I’ll let you know what dress I choose for the awards ceremony in the future! I hope you’ve enjoyed this exclusive report on London Fashion Weekend and have taken inspiration from these images of the hottest designer runway show at the event :)


How to build your own personal brand

As a girl who has been a student for most of her adult life, you’ll remember how I struggled with not starting a course in September this year and how I wrote about the quick U-turn I made when I discovered that I could study a free module from the University of East Anglia. It was a course entitled ‘The Secret Power of Brands” and having studied marketing in the past (ok, I have a masters in lifestyle promotion, oops) I thought it would be a good refresher course, enabling me to brush up my knowledge and learn about all the new ways of marketing and branding that simply didn’t exist when I completed my MA back in 2010. Believe it or not, social media wasn’t as important only 3 years ago, user-led content creation brands weren’t around and blogs weren’t even mentioned back then. This course taught me that things have changed considerably in the world of branding and getting expert advice from the brand professionals at Wolff Olins was invaluable and brought my knowledge bang up to date.

It took me 14 weeks to complete the course rather than the recommended 10 (mainly due to time off over Christmas, I guess) but I’m glad that I took my time to really understand the content and access all the resources that the course offered – I’ve now watched loads of talks on – my new go-to website when I need motivation! One of the most important lessons came at the very end of the course and it was the most relevant to me as a blogger – how to build your own personal brand. Although this lesson was aimed at creating a ‘personal brand’ in terms of promoting yourself to potential employers, I took a lot from it as a blogger.

i want to make beautiful things even if noone cares saul bass quote

Saul Bass quote via Pinterest

I realised that I’m putting my ‘brand’ out there everyday. When I write a blog post, it project an image of me and my website as a whole. My blog design says something about me too – that header isn’t just a standard theme I’ve chosen from a list – I’ve had my artist husband draw images that represent sewing and cooking in order to briefly demonstrate what readers can expect while reading the blog. I’ve used my favourite colours and fonts, so rather following design trends or Pantone’s colour of the year I’m sticking with my preference because that too says something about me. In fact I’ve always used this shade of pink (#FF0088) for all of my websites over the years and the pale blue was the colour theme of my wedding so it will always be my top colour choice. Plus, the trends in graphic design, typography, colours and themes change so quickly, I’d never keep up with it and I’d probably get fed up with the design as quickly as anyone else – remember how every website seemed to be using chevrons for the last 2 years? Although I loved it at the time, I’m glad I didn’t use chevrons now – it would have dated my site quickly and looked like every other project on Pinterest! So my blog design itself would be part of my ‘personal brand’ as it communicates something about me to all the lovely readers who stop by. Also I have to look at it everyday, so I’d better like it at least!

personal brand purpose UEA

The course ended with an exercise which would help you to find your personal brand and included the questions above, along with some prompts to help me answer these questions. I’m working my way through them and will share my answers when I’m done. Hopefully this will give me an insight into my ‘purpose’ and might help me to grow my blog and writing career in someway. My friend is always telling me that I need a focus so that I am moving towards something rather than just wafting through the blogosphere so I’ve been looking at the manifestos of other creative people on Pinterest with the aim of creating my own. In the meantime, I’ll be considering the questions above – apparently where the answers collide in the middle will be my ‘personal brand’, lets see shall we?

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My little vintage caravan ~ Pink party food ideas

Last week I shared my inspiration for creating a pink and red themed birthday party. I usually forget all about my birthday in the excitement of the run-up to Christmas, so this year I’ve made an effort to mark the occasion with a little party in my little vintage caravan. I’ve already shared my inspiration “moodboard” and now I’ve gathered together some party food ideas that go well with the colour theme. Please check out my “Parties” board on Pinterest for all the image credits and let me know if you have any other ideas for creating yummy party food for a pink and red themed party:

red and pink cakes themed birthday party food

So I’m off to the shops to buy cherries, jam, cream and sprinkles! Next up is sorting out the decorations and having a go at creating them myself, I will share my DIY attempts with you soon :)


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Kitchen decor & breakfast table inspirations

Nothing beats having a lazy lie-in on a Sunday, cuddled up with the paper and a cup of tea. The dream is to shuffle into the kitchen and settle into a breakfast nook (with breakfast waiting for me, of course!). It’s half term next week and I’m hoping that hubby will help me out with a few DIY ideas I’ve been having for our kitchen – although I think he has his own ideas about what to do with the time off, mainly revolving around ‘chilling out’ and ‘watching the football’.

Here are a few inspirational areas I’m lusting after :

Kitchen dining area in loft apartment from comfreevia Comfree

This one taken from a home in Calgary, Canada is missing my favourite feature of a window seat, but I think that the exposed brick walls more than makes up for it – I love the brick walled loft apartment look. The location allows for the missing curtains (although I’d probably DIY some anyway), because the windows let in so much natural light.

kitchen dining area with built in storage from Pretty Little House Things

via Pretty Little House Things

This cozy little area is just adorable. Very snuggly for this time of year and the earthy colours are very autumnal. The pillows look easily dupe-able, sure to be done with some extra fabric scraps and buttons that I’ve got lying around. I bet you didn’t notice the secret storage underneath the window seats! If I could build a little breakfast area myself, it would probably look exactly like this!

 fresh spring yellow kitchen dining table from better homes and gardens

via Better Homes and Gardens

This colour palette of yellows and oranges is sunny and perfectly bright enough to get me out of bed and ready to face the day. The chairs can easily be found at a boot sale and covered with a fresh coat of paint on the cheap. Market fresh flowers always spruce up an area, too!

 built in kitchen dining table from Cardea Building

via Cardea Building

I love the look of a glass table top, it just looks so neat and fresh (especially after a fresh scrub with Windolene). The roman curtains are something that have been on my radar for some time, and I’ve got some fabric from Abakhan Fabrics to make some, so seeing them in this setting makes me feel good about my choice! Also, I’ve noticed how each of these kitchens feature wooden floors – a look that I particularly love and would be practical yet homely in the kitchen. I’m going to check out a variety of timber flooring options and see if we can include it in our kitchen redesign.  We’ll just have to wait and see whether hubby find the energy to help me with my DIY plans, or whether we both stick to the original plan of lazy lie-ins instead!

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My little vintage caravan project ~ the first thing I’ve made in my new sewing room

This is a big moment for me – I’m sharing the first sewing project I’ve done in my little vintage caravan after starting the project to makeover the old retro van into my new sewing studio. I’m still quite far off finishing my ‘office’ but I’ve got a table and somewhere to sit now, so there’s no reason why I can’t start sewing out there as planned!

I’ve borrowed hubby’s loooong outdoor extension lead so now I’ve got electricity and I can at least plug in my sewing machine and have the radio on while I work. I will need to sort out a better and more weather-proof electrics for the caravan if I want to use it over the winter (which I’m sure will result in another dull-but-necessary blog post!) but for now, the roll-out extension cable does the job. So this is the first sewing project I worked on last week – an appliqué tulip design.

cassiefairys applique tulip project for amanda addison creative crafting

After setting so many inspiration challenges of my own, I wanted to join in with Amanda Addison’s craft challenge, which I learnt about during the Creative Crafting blog tour over the summer. She set the challenge to use her tulip design and appliqué it onto anything we like. I started with a piece of gingham and a tiny scrap of red fabric and soon decided that I wanted to create an appliquéd picture that I could frame and hang in the caravan in the future. I used zig-zag stitch over the edges and chose a contrasting pink thread to outline the petals.

I was happy with the finished image and sent a photo of it to Amanda. There were lots of other crafters joining in with the challenge with a variety of results – adding the tulip design to jeans, cushions and even a tray! She has shared some of the projects on her website, so please check out her blog post  and you can even get the tulip design pattern for yourself and add it to your own craft items in the future. And don’t forget that this month’s inspiration challenge theme for my own blog is ‘apples’ so check out the challenge blog post and join in by making something crafty!

Inspiration Challenge for October 2013 theme - apples

I’m pleased to make my first item in my caravan ‘studio’ and I can’t wait to carry on crafting after I build my work surface. Now that I’ve started working in the caravan, I’ve realised that I desperately need some storage solutions – somewhere to put my fabric, equipment and craft supplies, so I’m going to keep an eye out for a desk, some free-standing shelves and storage boxes. I’m sure there will be another caravan update soon, so come back when you get the chance!  :)

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