I really enjoy finding a new use for things, so when a friend of mine was getting rid of an old sofa it was too tempting. Even though the sofa itself was broken, the fabric on the back and sides of the sofa were as good as new so I thought I would be able to use it for a future project. Unfortunately, the fabric on the cushions had pretty much gone, so I couldn’t reclaim that, though I think I can probably make use of the cushion pads themselves. I was pleased with my haul, but now have to come up with some ways to use the fabric, which gave me the inspiration for this post.Before I started this project, I did not realise how versatile upholstery fabric is. At first, I was really scratching my head trying to work out what to do with the fabric. To start with, the best I could think of was using it to recover some dining room chairs or make some cushions. Of course, it is perfect for those projects, but I wanted to do more so carried on researching and gradually found some excellent projects. Here are my ideas; how many I will put into action I have not decided yet, but I hope you will be inspired and try some of them yourself.
Yay for summer and whoop for BBQ season! It’s finally time to drag out the barbecue, scrub down the grill and fire up the coals. Or so I thought… It turns out that my barbecue required a makeover, and quick!Last year we invested in a kettle barbecue. Ok, it wasn’t pricey because we picked it up in the end-of-summer sales but even so I was rather disappointed when, after only a couple of weeks outside, the red paint faded to a dusty pink shade. It took us longer to get it out of the box and assemble it than it did for the colour to fade. I was rather miffed to say the least but put it away at the end of last summer and forgot about it.
When we pulled it out from the back of the shed during the balmy weather, I realised that it really was as bad as I remembered and after we removed all the fixings you can see from the photos just how red it once was and how faded the rest of the barbecue had become. There was only one solution – spray paint! Okay, you may have already gathered that I use spray paint to fix up almost anything in my home, but this was a slightly different project. Even though a spray paint that was suitable for metal would have adhered to the metal dome, it probably wouldn’t be able to withstand the heat. So this lead me on a hunt for a heat-resistant makeover option and I found it at Rustoleum. The solution was this Stove & BBQ Paint which can be used to freshen up barbecues as well as woodburners, heaters and stoves. The paint can withstand temperatures up to 650 degrees and prevents rust so I picked out a deep green colour (black and silver are also available) and I set to work. It took only a couple of coats to get a smooth, even finish and the barbecue is now a matt green colour rather than gloss pinky-red. We decided to spray inside the barbecue too, even though this paint hadn’t faded as much, to protect it from future rust or fading. I much prefer the colour of the barbecue now and, after allowing it to dry thoroughly, once we’d reassembled the legs, grill and handles it looked as good as new – better, in fact! We are going to try it out this weekend so I’ll let you know how the paint fares with the heat too.
The next project that I’m working on in the garden is creating some flower beds. We’ve only ever planted up one small boarder at the front of the house and, even though my husband and I love having flowers and shrubs in the garden, we really haven’t had any time to look after the plants we bought. This time will be different, however, because I’ve invested in a few rolls of weed-resistant membrane from Mill Race Garden Centre.
We are planning to dig over the flower beds, lay the membrane on top of the loose soil and cover in bark chippings before planting flowers through the weed-resistant layer. This low-cost solution will ensure that weeds will be kept to a minimum and save us time throughout the year – the weeding seems to be never ending so taking them out of the equation makes gardening so much more enjoyable. We can then concentrate on picking out shrubs and planting gorgeous flowers – the fun part of creating a garden!
It’s quite a big job as the front garden stretches quite far to the road so we’re working on about 40 metres of flower beds but once it’s done I know it will look fabulous, a really make the house look more lived-in and welcoming from the road. I can’t wait to get started… where’s my spade?!
When it comes to planning your wedding day, you’ll undoubtedly want a spectacular day that’s filled with beautiful memories to last a lifetime. The location plays an integral role in creating this ‘wow factor’, and if you’re searching for something extra special then check out these quirkily romantic venues:
Museums and Art Galleries If you or your partner is interested in art, history or imposing architecture, then the ideal location may just be your local museum or art gallery. The options are virtually endless when it comes to indulging your niche hobby or interest, and you could get married in front of anything from a Spitfire to a woolly mammoth. Whatever your historic or artistic whimsy, the photos would definitely be sensational, and your guests would remember the day forever.
Countryside Barns A novel option for outdoorsy types and couples besotted with earthy themes, the barn wedding is sure to melt hearts. To pull this one off, find an amazing venue in Cheshire and think soft lighting, exposed pine, pastel colours and earthy tones; all set under the stars and against a backdrop of beautiful timber and inviting open space.The Great Outdoors A step further than a barn wedding is to choose a park, forest or general area of outstanding beauty for your big day. It could be that somewhere special where you and your loved one first met, or simply somewhere beautiful that you find breathtakingly romantic. Consider spots like national parks, moors, pinewoods, mountains or the beach. This type of venue is probably best for summer, and make sure to research local laws and venue restrictions.Gardens or Conservatory Perhaps you are keen gardeners or enjoy flowers, and if so an ideal wedding venue could be a large conservatory or picturesque botanical garden. In choosing such a venue, think tree-lined paths, scents to inspire, manicured lawns and colours that pop. Many large conservatories are also historical feats of architecture, and the opportunities to utilise such a unique space can create a stunning impact.
Historical Libraries Books, en-masse, create a wonderful ambience, and what could form a better backdrop for iconic photographs? The romantic notion motivating a marriage among bookcases might be lost on some, but for literature lovers the appeal is obvious. The opportunities to theme the wedding are also numerous, whilst the grandeur and intellectual aura of the building will bring a touch of refined class not afforded with many other venues.
On a Boat If you love the water and find its energy inspiring, then consider a water-based venue. This could be a sailboat, rowboat, barge, yacht, a speedboat or even a ferry! If you don’t fancy open water, then the boat can remain anchored and the sparkling infinity of the lake, river or ocean will still create beautiful ambience and make for unforgettable sunset photographs.
When it comes to picking your wedding venue, the more creative you are with it, the better! Aim for locations that reflect your personal interests and love story, whilst adding that unique dash of romance and a stunning backdrop for spectacular photographs.
It may not seem like it from reading my blog but I rarely treat myself to new clothing. Honestly, almost everything I buy I end up writing about so you can probably tell from my blog that I’ve only got about three new dresses this year (though I make up for this with shoes). I’m almost proud of this fact and I’ll tell you why; I’ve been trying to give up shopping.Okay, not all shopping. Make-up, hair products, toiletries and underwear are everyday essentials that need to be replenished. But when it comes to shopping for clothing and things I’ve been trying to cut back on how much I buy, and I think I’ve been doing quite well. I’ve been trying to keep my shopping to a minimum for two reasons; firstly, I want to save some cash for summer adventures, and secondly, I already have too much stuff and it’s spilling out of my wardrobe!
That said, I really did need a dress to wear for my friend’s wedding next week (above, which I wrote about last month – I didn’t buy new shoes though, I’m reusing my old faves) and I couldn’t resist this striped dress from Blue Vanilla when I spotted it online last month. I decided that, if I was only going to invest in one dress this summer, this gorgeous shift dress would be my best bet as it will be great for promenade strolls with a denim jacket in the summer and would be cosy with tights and a cardi in the autumn and winter. A sound investment, I’m sure you’ll agree!
Everyone has their own style – it’s part of what makes you, you! Knowing what colours suit you, understanding your body, what shape clothes you need and the combinations of textures and textiles is absolutely essential if you are going to make a positive and lasting statement. DIY fashion allows you to take artistic control of your look, making clothing and accessories that are created with you in mind. However, it can sometimes be the more expensive alternative to browsing the high street stores, particularly if you’re not on the lookout for designer labels, as some of the supermarket clothing and shoe prices can be hard to beat. But this low cost does mean that everyone else will be wearing the same clothing this season too, so getting a unique look can be hard when you’re on a budget. So how can you ‘do it yourself’ for cheap?Recycling old clothes is a great way to achieve your perfect look for less. Take that tatty old dress that you haven’t worn in years or that pair of jeans that no longer quite fits and make them into something new and beautiful, something that truly suits you. I had an old pair of brogues in my wardrobe that I’d worn for years. Therefore they were super-comfortable shoes but they looked really shabby, yet I couldn’t bring myself to throw them out. Instead I grabbed a low-cost can of fabric spray paint and gave them a quick and easy makeover – see my blog post about it here. Using old, unwanted and tatty clothes to create something that you will use time and time again is by far the most economical way of doing it yourself. Continue reading “Tuesday Shoesday – Save money on DIY fashion” »
The summer holidays have arrived! And with them come the opportunity to spend some time at home and get started on a couple of decorating projects that I’ve been bursting to do. You may remember that I shared some inspirational images for my ideal kitchen a couple of weeks ago and I’m now planning to put those ideas into practice. I’m calling it a ‘mini makeover’ for two reasons; firstly, my budget is tiny and I want to get the best result for the minimum outlay, and secondly, my kitchen is also tiny – I’ve actually never lived in a home with such a small kitchen before and I really need to make the best use of the space available. So this interior design project is really going to be a challenge!The thing that I’ve had the most trouble deciding on is the colour of the walls. We’ve had patches of paint samples on the wall for more than a year and I couldn’t decide on a colour until I found a lovely duck-egg blue in Homebase. It’s bright enough that it doesn’t make the room feel any smaller but it’s a little more exciting than just using a neutral white or magnolia to make the space bigger.I really think I’ve made the right decision with the paint colour, and here’s why; Continue reading “My mini kitchen makeover – Paint colours & fabric patterns” »
With schools all around the country kicking off their summer holiday today, it’s got me thinking about my plans for the next couple of months and what I’d like to achieve while enjoying the summer break. Following New Year’s Resolutions, summer holidays are often the next time in our busy schedules when we have the opportunity to unwind and reflect on our lives. I think it’s a great idea to check back on the goals we set for ourselves at this half-way point and get ourselves back on-track if needed.Earlier this year, I set myself a goal to spend more time writing for fun and you can see my blog post about my plans here. As a full-time writer – and now editor – I found myself short on time and not doing as writing work for myself as I would like. I know I’m lucky to be doing a job that I enjoy so much that I’d like to do more of it but writing started out as a hobby for me and I still love it. I actually submitted my goal to the Post-It #MakeItHappen campaign for the chance of winning £200 and there’s a new winner chosen every month so it’s a good idea evaluate and improve your goals regularly and keep submitting them to keep you on track!When I started blogging, it was my way of practicing writing every day – much like an artist uses a sketchbook – and I enjoy every minute of it. I blogged daily for about three years and I think I became a little bit addicted to it! With more and more writing and editing projects being commissioned I was running short on time and couldn’t always face doing extra writing in the evening for my blog. But earlier this year I made the decision to write for fun and not feel pressured to keep up with my daily blogging and, so far, I’ve managed to stick to my goal.I’m pleased to say that ‘letting myself off’ my daily schedule has actually made me feel loads better about being a writer; I don’t write just because I ‘should’ any more and I feel like the articles I do write are better researched and I feel more proud of them. And having the occasional break without feeling bad about it has definitely improved my happiness. I enjoy the writing work I undertake in my day job much more as I can dedicate more time to it and deliver a better quality result.
Now that the summer holidays are here and I’m thinking about how this one change had impacted on my happiness in my work, I’m starting to think about other short-term goals that I would like to meet this year. The problem that I currently face is procrastination. I know I’m putting things off – writing projects – that I want to do, just because they have no deadline. I always put my day-to-day projects first and then never have time to do the other things that I want to do.
I recently watched this episode of Marie TV above which shares great tips for getting important work done and I’m definitely going to be taking this advice – have a watch and let me know if you already follow this advice, it would be good to know how it works for you. I’ll let you know how I get on with my new goal over the course of the summer!
While I was writing out my new happiness goal my favourite summer mantra popped into my mind so I jotted this down to keep me inspired throughout the summer. Writing down positive affirmations alongside your goals is a fabulous way to keep focused and motivated and, as I’m a very forgetful person, I like to stick up my inspiring quotes and goals on the fridge so that I can see it every day and keep on track. I use Post-it Super Sticky Notes to keep my ideas and quotes in order as they stay in place, even on vertical surfaces, to help keep your goals and positive thoughts at the front of your mind. Let me know if you do this kind of thing too – I’m sure I can’t be the only one! My favourite summer quote is ‘say yes to summer adventures’ and I’d love to hear your own favourite inspirational quotes so please leave me a comment below or tweet me @Cassiefairy
Us women know only too well how difficult it can be to keep up with the latest fashion trends without forking out an obscene amount of money each month, just to look good without wearing the same go-to outfit multiple times. For many ladies, there is even an unwritten rule which says that when it comes to special occasion dresses, it is poor form to be seen in the same outfit twice.
Whilst I can’t say I agree with this declaration by any means, I do find that wearing a new dress for a significant event does make the whole thing seem more special. But what happens when your bank balance just won’t stretch that far that month? My friends and I have a couple of trusted techniques that keeps us looking and feeling fabulous without the need to splash the cash on the latest looks.
Latitude. What a festival. What a wonderful weekend. It was magical, hilarious, nostalgic and happy. And that’s just my experience of the event. I’d love to tell you all about it today and share some of my photos so that you can get an idea of the fun weekend we enjoyed at Suffolk’s biggest arts and music festival. I’m pretty sure that no two experiences of Latitude would be the same; for some it may be one mad-dash from crowded arena to packed tent, watching the UK’s hottest bands and newest stars; for other’s it might have been a chilled out weekend of lake swimming, saunas in the woods and art installations; for me it was a complete mix of crazy-busy music performances, laugh-out-loud comedy and chilling out in dappled shade. You can tell it’s a family festival by the sheer volume of activities and entertainment provided for children and teenagers; I’d love to share my festival experience with you and here’s what we got up to…
The mornings at the festival were the most calm and relaxed times of the day for me. There were fewer people on the site – it gradually became busier during the day as day guests arrived and campers awoke – and the performances taking place on the smaller stages were generally acoustic and very chilled out. I certainly noticed an increase in volume after midday as the bigger stages plugged in their speakers! In the mornings the calming sound installations, such as the bandstand adorned with recycled can pieces and giant wind chimes in the woods, tinkled and clunked in the breeze.
As the day warmed up and festival-goers descended into the arena the tents and stages became noticeably busier but, no matter what performance you were hoping to see, it was likely that there would be room for you to view the act. Of course, in some of the tents, such as the popular BBC Radio 6 Music stage, it seemed like standing-room-only for many of the bands but there was always space to make your way into the crowd. The highlight of Latitude for me is always the comedy. With more than 40 acts over three days there was always a performance to watch and you could easily lose track of time as one comedian handed over to the next in a continuous schedule of laughs. I had some ‘must-see’ acts circled on my festival timetable including Latitude veteran Marcus Brigstocke and headliner Jason Manford, along with my newest comedy heroes Sara Pascoe and Joe Lycett, whose clever camel improvisation & Tinder jokes had me screaming with laughter. In amongst these superstars I discovered lots of new comedy acts that I probably wouldn’t have seen elsewhere including a late-night improv show in the literary arena featuring Thom Tuck and Deborah Frances-White that culminated in Lycett snogging Brigstocke on stage. That’s the great thing about Latitude festival, you get to experience performances – comedy, music, theatre and film – that you might never have found otherwise. My evenings since the festival have been spent looking up future performances of the new acts I discovered and my calendar for the rest of the year is already filling up with comedy club visits and tour dates.
This type of festival is full of surprises – not least the unbilled Ed Sheeran popping up on various stages over the course of the weekend – and I love finding myself in the right place at the right time and experiencing something amazing. While deliberating what to eat on Saturday, for example, I heard a commotion in the Poetry tent. We nipped into the rapidly filling-up tent to find a fantastic beatboxing session starting up. I couldn’t believe my ears as entire music tracks – drums, instruments and lyrics – were performed by one person! The BAC Beatbox Academy joined together to create a wall of sound with their voices, recreating a number of famous tracks, and the performance culminated in a beatbox battle with members of the group showing off their skills against each other. Simply astonishing and I’m so pleased that I was passing the poetry tent at exactly the right moment.
My absolute highlight of the whole festival also took place in the poetry tent. Nick Helm. Need I say any more? I’d spotted a sneaky performance by this talented guy hidden away in the schedule. I actually ran across the festival site when I heard his gravelly voice yelling ‘Do you like jokes?’ over and over at the audience. I wanted to be shouted at too. Not content with standing at the doorway for the performance I slipped inside the tent and found myself sitting at the very front feeling rather nervous (as I know what Helm can do to his audience) but excited to see this rockstar hero in action.
I don’t want to go on and on about how amazing the guy is because I’m sure Helm would hate the kind of review that I would usually write for this absolute legend but watching him belt out songs, yell poetry and hurl punchlines at the audience in his angry growl was the best moment of the festival for me. I never realised I was such a fan-girl; I wonder if anyone else was affected in the same way by Nick’s performance? I didn’t want it to end and, luckily for me, the next act due to perform in the poetry tent had cancelled so a series of artists took to the stage to perform poems for the waiting crowd including another swoon-inducing poetry performance by Helm.
Now, on to the music. Honestly, it’s a great festival if you’re really into new bands but not knowing half of the names on the line-up really did make me feel my age. Thankfully, there was a decent amount of ‘my kind’ of music too including The Charlatans, Manic Street Preachers and Noel Gallagher closing the festival at sunset on Sunday. A lot of acts that I wouldn’t mind seeing, such as Years and Years and Seasick Steve clashed with the comedy acts I came to see, and let’s face it, I was still recovering from my Helm experience to take too much notice of anything else on Sunday. Still, swaying the night away to ‘Don’t look back in anger’ while propping up the arena bar was a pretty good way to end the weekend and we made our way through the illuminated woods to admire the finished installations that artists had been working on throughout the festival.
There’s plenty more festival highlights that I haven’t mentioned so here’s a quick list of must-do experiences: free gondola rides across the lake and this year lake swimming was introduced; the helter-skelter in the kids arena isn’t just for the little ones and looks great lit up like a beacon at night; a 3D animated light show takes place on the lake each evening; caravans, sheds, tents and wooded clearings play host to non-stop theatre performances, story-telling and films; and – my favourite thing – there’s a huge amount of food available and from the gourmet pies to the naughty burgers it was all delicious. My sunny weekend at Latitude Festival has really stuck in my mind; I’ve been day-dreaming of comedy performances all week, wondering whether beatboxing could be a new career for me and washing the dust off my toes. Loved it. Want more. Will be back.
When I wrote about my new Crocs sandals a couple of months ago I got loads of replies from surprised Instagrammers, tweeters and bloggers who couldn’t believe that my sandals were made by this brand. They looked nothing like the chunky Crocband clogs that have been so popular over recent years and the funky jelly design of my sandals certainly turned a few heads. I loved my rainbow Crocs at first sight and I’ve seen lots of fashionistas sporting these pretty and comfortable sandals since – including Ree Ree Rockette looking gorgeous in the wedge version (next on my list!).
Image: Rex Features/Associated Press
Well it turns out that we bloggers are quite the trend-setters; now even Prince George has been spotted wearing the famous brand. I like to think that the Duchess of Cambridge read my blog post and decided that if Crocs were good enough for me, they were good enough for her son too. Yes, that’s probably what happened.