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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How does your garden grow? Don’t fence me in…

No, actually do fence me in. That’s exactly what the next step is – adding a fence to the side of the garden. Even though it was great having some new-found privacy with the back fence, it looked a bit odd in the garden without any sides to the fence, so we started putting up a side fence to divide our garden from the neighbours. This time we weren’t lucky enough to find a used fence that we could ‘thrift’ so we had to actually buy it from new and start from scratch.

The plus side of this was that I could paint the fence planks before they were nailed to the supporting batons, which ensured that no gaps of unpainted wood appeared when the fence dried out (read my blog post about painting the back fence here) and I know for sure that the wood has been treated on all sides. Plus, our neighbour now has a nicely painted back of the fence to look at and we checked whether our colour choice was okay with them before we started! It took a couple of hours to paint all of the planks on both sizes and my cat Muffin decided to help out after the paint was dry!

So after a lot more painting and more mysterious painting-related leg aches, we put the newly-painted fence up and nailed it along the slightly sloped edge of the garden. I don’t mind the angle at all, not least because following the slope meant that we didn’t need to dig it out order to get a straight top to the fence! Anything that saves on digging is fine with me, especially because I know we’ve got a lot of digging to come when we put in our veggie patch! Even our nephew helped out with the construction work..!

We now have a completely enclosed corner of the garden and can start work on the veggie patch within this area. At the moment we are leaving the left-hand side of the garden un-fenced, because we are planning to bring shed panels into the garden that way. We can put up the rest of the fence after we have installed everything else!

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My little vintage caravan ~ A mini desk makeover

I love the thrifty nature of a makeover project to ‘get the look for less’ and I’m always keen to recycle and renovate old or unwanted items to keep them out of landfill. So when I needed a little extra storage space for my little vintage caravan, I headed to the car boot sale and kept my beady eye open for a suitable project to get started on.

Many of the furniture items at the boot fair had rather hefty price-tags and I quickly excluded anything that had already been painted or renovated in the past. I also didn’t want to buy a gorgeous piece of wooden furniture in good condition just to paint over it, so I kept hunting for the perfect piece. At a particularly ‘junky’ stall, I spotted a mini-desk/shelving unit tucked away at the back. The wood on the top of the unit was peeling off and the entire unit was crying out to be sanded down and painted. It would be the perfect desk for my small caravan space and in my mind’s eye I was already imagining all the things I could do to improve it. I tentatively asked about the price (worrying that it would be outside my budget) and was delighted when it was being sold for a ‘secondhand’ rather than ‘antique’ price! I snapped it up for less than a tenner and enlisted my husband to help me carry it back to the car.

As we loaded it into the car I noticed that a butterfly was sleeping beneath the shelf, so the cabinet would forever more be known as ‘the butterfly unit’ and it inspired my choice of colour and designs for decorating the desk. I picked up a couple of cans of pink spray paint from the car boot sale too and stopped off at the local hardware shop to find a new drawer knob. The butterfly fluttered off during the journey home, presumably to find somewhere more suitable to sleep!

That same afternoon, I sanded down the old varnish and wiped it over with a damp cloth to clean off the dust. After the cabinet had dried in the sun, I began spray painting in earnest and covered the unit it a couple of light coats. I left it to dry and came back to the project the following day to spray another fine coat of pink paint to get a smooth finish. I didn’t worry about spraying the back of the cabinet too much, because I knew that I wanted to decorate the inside with paper and fabric.

My tips for renovating a piece of furniture:

  • Clean thoroughly before you begin work on your furniture - inside and out!
  • Sand down wooden furniture to create a surface that paint will adhere to
  • If you’re keeping the wood-grain visible only sand in one direction with the grain
  • Use a vacuum with brush attachment to suck up the dust and wipe over with a damp cloth to get the last of it
  • Make any repairs before you start to paint
  • Make sure the unit if fully dry before painting
  • Spray in long strokes and about 30cm away from the wood to get a smooth finish
  • Build up layers of paint – it’s better to do three or four fine layers because the paint is more likely to run with one thick layer

Here’s how the desk looks at this stage of the ‘renovation’ and I’ll be sure to add some more photos of my progress and (hopefully) the finished cabinet next week:


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Dressing to close the deal

Being self-employed, it’s sometimes difficult for me to know what to wear for business events – should I go corporate and professional or should I try to stand out from the crowd? Similarly if you’re working in an office and going to a sales call, making a pitch or meeting with a client, it’s sometimes tricky to work out what to wear to make the best impression. Can you ever be too smart? What if you work in a creative environment and part of that is expressing yourself through clothing? I’ve done some research into fashion for business and here’s my top tips for dressing to impress:

Dress comfortably

Obviously, you’re not going to dress like a slob to make an impression! But you do need to be comfy. Follow your office’s dress protocol; if your uniform includes trousers, wear good quality, dark trousers without frays or holes. Also, dark clothing, according to studies, makes you look more professional.

Make the shoes shine

Both men and women wanting to impress clients should pay attention to detail, particularly shining those shoes. Worn or scuffed shoes say you don’t pay attention to detail.

Choosing a suit

A blue or black suit is a widely accepted office attire when you want to dress for success, according to reputable corporate clothing suppliers. You can dress us the suit with a splash of colour like a coloured blouse, tie, or shirt. A single simple piece of jewellery can complete the look.

image source

Always dress up

Don’t dress down. If you’re unsure, wear a suit and tie. If business casual is acceptable for your line of work, wear a starched dress shirt, dark trousers, and matching sweater.

Comfort before style

When you want to dress up for business, take emotional and physical comfort into account before style. If you wear high heels or a lot of make-up and it makes you feel like you’re wearing a costume, don’t do it. If you do, chances are your focus won’t be on that important meeting or closing deal but on how you look. Clothing shouldn’t be a primary focus of your meeting either. If people are paying more attention to your clothing than what you have to say, you’ve missed the mark.

Go one up

The concept of dressing for success is to dress one notch above your clients. Corporate clothing suppliers advise that whatever you choose to wear, it is clean, fits well and is stain-free. Women should stay away from tight-fitting outfits that simply act as a distraction.

All images from I Love Fresh Fashions

The timelessness of red

Red is a timeless colour and attracts positive attention. A red scarf, blouse, or jacket will give you that professional edge in today’s business environment. A red tie or handkerchief works well too. Make sure you match the red outfit with your age and meeting environment, or you risk making a negative impact. Continue reading

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Pieday Friday ~ A simple white loaf

A staple of every picnic, a simple loaf of white bread is essential for making rounds of sandwiches for all the family so why not try baking your own ready for your next summer trip? I’ve been using this recipe for a standard white loaf for years and it’s just so simple – the thing that takes the most time is waiting for the dough to rise, so I’ve found that baking bread more about patience than skill!

Ingredients: 500g strong white flour, 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast, 1 tsp salt. up to 350ml lukewarm water, a little sunflower oil, for greasing

  1. Put the flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the middle. Pour in most of the water and mix the flour and water together until combined to a slightly wet dough. Knead the dough on a floured surface for at least 10 mins until elastic and smooth. Put the dough in a clean oiled bowl and cover with cling film before leaving to rise until doubled in size.
  2. Heat oven to 220C/fan 200C/gas 7. Knead the dough again to push the air out, on a floured surface. Mould the dough into a rugby ball shape that will fit a 900g loaf tin (like my silicone tin from Wholeport). Cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for 30 mins. Bake the bread for 15 mins, then reduce the heat to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 and continue to bake for 30 mins until the loaf sounds hollow when removed from the loaf tin and tapped on the base. Enjoy!

I’ve been inspired by all the wonderful cakes and bakes over at the Stuck In The Tree blog and I’m getting involved with their Bakespiration Challenge with this easy peasy bread recipe. I hope you have a go at making it too and let me know how it turns out! Tweet me @Cassiefairy or leave me a comment below :)


The school summer holidays are here!

Finally it’s the end of term and 6 weeks of the school summer holidays are stretching out in front of me. I can’t wait to take a bit of time off to spend with my family and friends and we’ve already got lots of fun activities pencilled in on the calendar. Tickets have been bought, hotels have been booked and plans have been made – not for a going-away all-inclusive holiday or anything like that - but for lots of fun ‘staycation’ activities, special events in the local area, nights out and guests coming to stay. Here’s my idea of a perfect summer holiday:

summer holidays

Walks along the coast

summer alfresco dining

Al fresco dinners

hanging out with friends during the summer holidays

Hanging out with friends

summer holiday reading

Catching up on reading

summer evenings

Relaxed evenings

I’m hoping for a busy, active, tiring yet relaxing, stress-free summer holiday. Please bear with me if I don’t manage to blog every day during the summer holidays and if I miss an update please be assured that I’ll be back with more news very soon! :)