Cassiefairy – My Thrifty Life

Cassiefairy's thrifty lifestyle blog – Saving money every day with DIY crafts, sewing projets, low-cost recipes & shppping tips


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Book review: Urban Flowers + win a copy!

This week I’ve got my hands on the newly released gardening book ‘Urban Flowers’ by Carolyn Dunster. A very thrifty DIY-focussed book, it contains hundreds of ideas for making the most of your outdoor space, no matter how little garden you have. And the good news is that you can win a copy in my giveaway so read on to enter the competition below…In this book, Carolyn demonstrates how it is possible to turn even the smallest space into a blooming urban paradise with colourful flowers and a thriving habitat for wildlife too. So whether you’ve got a patch in the countryside or a balcony in the city, you’ll be sure to find a handy project in this book.
Urban Flowers helps to identify which plants will grow best in your garden and, the thing I found most interesting about the book, it provides planting ‘recipes’ to create colourful palettes of blooms all year round. I’ve always wondered how some gardens look great in every season and now I know how to do it for myself!

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Book review: The Thoughtful Gardener by Jinny Blom + Win a copy!

I’ve been reading about gardening this month, and it’s all down to the newly released book The Thoughtful Gardener. If you too have an empty garden (or an overgrown one, for that matter) this book is the perfect starting point to get you into the garden this spring. It’s packed full of inspirational ideas and plenty of photos of gardens in bloom that’ll get you wanting to plant up your patch. Read on to find out more about the book and author, and to enter my giveaway to WIN a copy of this beautiful new release, worth £35!Award-winning designer, and gardening columnist for The Times, Jinny Blom has carefully curated this gorgeous book to bring together design ideas from gardens all around the country. The Thoughtful Gardener not only provides plenty of inspiration with stunning photos, it also offers practical advice on how to make your own perfectly-designed garden at home.

Image by Andrew Montgomery / The Thoughtful Gardener by Jinny Blom

But that doesn’t mean a manicured lawn with topiary trees, a well-designed garden can be full of over-grown shrubs, blousey blooms and messy edges. That’s the lovely thing about this book; it makes gardening accessible to those of us who don’t have the time to trim the edges of our grass with scissors! Some of the gardens in this book have been growing wildly for years, but Jinny shows us how the original design allows for the plants to grow freely while still providing a surprisingly neat and calming space.

Image by Charlie Hopkinson / The Thoughtful Gardener by Jinny Blom

Read more and enter my giveaway to win a copy of The Thoughtful Gardener below..!

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How to create 2 (very different!) flower arrangements using gerberas

Today’s rather cheerful blog post comes to you courtesy of fabulous florist Paula Pryke OBE. I’ve asked this inspirational designer to share her tips for creating displays using colourful gerberas. I’ve found it difficult to work with gerberas in the past  because their stems sometimes go floppy but today Paula is sharing two easy step-by-step guides to create gorgeous displays using gerberas. Plus, you can win a copy of her newly launched book Floristy Now in my competition. I’ve got two copies to give away so read on to find out how you can enter this fun giveaway..!

These happy flowers come in an array of eye-catching and joyful colours. At one time you could only get the regular large size, but over the years some very passionate gerbera growers have produced smaller ones to suit hand-tied bouquets and now you can get many exclusive varieties. There is the double-flowered small Pomponi gerbera and the shaggy Pasta or Springs large-flowered varieties, which are the novelties at the moment. Gerberas have hairy stems and so they don’t like to be placed in deep water as the stems can become waterlogged and soggy. They are very susceptible to bacteria, and so they benefit from having scrupulously clean containers and a drop of chlorine bleach is a good idea. Flower food is also essential for these versatile flowers.How to create a structured gerbera display

Gerbera United are a Dutch company with the vision to breed and produce new and unique gerberas. Their Ambition specials feature spidery-looking gerberas – some were originally called Pasta and some Springs. For this I chose to use their Pink Springs, Orange Springs and the red Pasta Romana varieties. I adore the intense colour of gerberas and over 30 years they have appeared in many of my designs. Now I mostly include them in gift work and contract work, but their colour range makes them useful when flower supply is not so plentiful – they can make a huge impact in autumn and winter. In the main I am a black centre fan, and tend to specify varieties with black eyes.

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Hack a garden border with just about anything

Today’s blog post is all about a book I got over Christmas – 101 Organic Gardening Hacks by Shawna Coronado. I’ve been dipping into it during my time off and it’s been a really inspirational read. I enjoyed it so much that I asked the publisher whether it would be possible to give a copy away to you and they were delighted to oblige. So there’s a Rafflecopter giveaway to win a copy of 101 Organic Gardening Hacks at the end of this blog post – be sure to enter today!p147-tiki-hut-shedThe book not only covers all the planting, pruning and growing tips you’d expect from the title, but it also offers practical advice on making the most of what you already have to turn your garden into an organic oasis. Who knew that there were so many easy ways to water plants? And it’s amazing what materials you can reuse to great effect in your landscaping. With thriftiness at the forefront of my mind at all times, it was wonderful to read a book that wasn’t recommending buying new materials or spending lots of money. In fact, I’d call this a money-saving advice book on gardening more than anything else, so you can see why I enjoyed reading it so much.

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To give you an idea of some of the projects in the book I’ve shared the images above, which include reusing old furniture to give your flowerbeds height and drama, and how to give your basic shed a makeover to turn it into a fun tiki hut! Below is an extract from the book itself about using collections of objects, waste products or natural materials to hack a garden border – read on to find out how!126a-hack-a-garden-border

Glass insulators border this garden bed and patio area, delineating the flagstone from the mulched soil edge.

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Garden rooms – why are they so popular?

After visiting the Ideal Home Show and Grand Designs Live back in the Spring, I found myself coveting a garden room. Why? Because the amazing designs of garden ‘pods’, chill out spaces, offices and outdoor rooms were the only things that really held my attention while I visited these design exhibition. Sure I came away with oodles of inspiration for interiors too, but the garden zones at each of these shows was where I was truly inspired. I popped into dozens of garden rooms during the day, I checked out the construction methods used and I could have practically lived in one special ‘temporary’ garden room. Yes, I was smitten and when I came home from the exhibitions I dug a little deeper to find out why gardens rooms are just SO appealing right now. Here’s what I found: Garden Room office ideas1. They are the ultimate home office space. And I work from home. So it’s no wonder I was so smitten with the garden rooms I saw at those exhibitions. They provided the perfect workspace; a quiet place, away from TV distractions and household chores, where I could work peacefully and uninterrupted. I could store everything I needed in one space, and my paperwork would no longer cover the living room. With electricity and wifi (and a kettle, perhaps!) I would have everything I needed to work efficiently all day long. Plus, my commute would be only about 20 paces away from my back door. Sounds ideal doesn’t it?Garden Rooms floor plan office inspiration2. Garden rooms have multiple uses. I read a news article about the popularity of garden rooms and it opened my eyes to all the uses that a space in the garden offers to the homeowner. Imagine having a cinema room of your own! You may not have space indoors to dedicate a whole room to screening your favourite films, but you CAN build a home cinema in the garden. Similarly, a chill out room, yoga studio, library or photography studio are all possible when you add another room to your garden.

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Garden inspiration – Beach hut sheds

I’m spotting them everywhere. In gardens, on Pinterest and even at Latitude festival. Yes, painted sheds are ‘all the rage’ these days and it’s a trend that is certainly here to stay. No longer do sheds have to be a boring brown or blend-in-with-the-bushes green, especially now that there are so many garden paint colours available in DIY stores. Read on to check out some of the examples of ‘beach hut sheds’ that I’ve recently come across and find out how to get the look in your own garden too.diy painting and installing small shed - duck egg blue beach hut in garden-20 I actually painted my own shed a lovely duck egg blue shade last year, and decided to add contrasting trims with a cream garden paint. I was definitely inspired by all the gorgeous beach huts I see along the Suffolk coast and I wanted to recreate the effect by painting my tiny 6ft x 4ft shed in coastal colours. I shared a step-by-step guide to painting sheds on my blog so be sure check that out if you’re planning to paint your own shed this summer.Covered-DeckChairsThis beautiful summerhouse is the ultimate beach hut shed, and is owned by my blogging buddy Lucy from LucyLovesYa.com – you can read more about her garden room here. It’s a beautiful sky blue hue, with contrasting white window frames. Size-wise it’s even more like a beach hut than my tiny shed, and there’s plenty of space inside to unfold a deckchair and take in the lovely garden views.Beach-Hut-Shed1 Beach-Hut-ShedI also spotted a painted shed at Latitude Festival earlier this summer. In fact, there were quite a few painted sheds dotted around the woods, all brightly decorated with images and patterns. Okay, these aren’t really traditional ‘beach hut’ designs, but they still definitely make the best use of the range of garden paints available these days. I would probably consider creating a piece of artwork on my own shed if I was more confident of my drawing ability!

This summer we painted the sheds in mum’s garden to look like a row of beach huts. She too has small 6ft x 4ft sheds (one for gardening tools, one for BBQ bits, one for the kids toys etc) and they were looking a little boring in their original ‘shed treatment’ colour. We popped to the DIY store and picked up some colourful paints, including a sunshiney yellow, a bubblegum pink and a pastel sky blue.summer holiday beach huts seaside garden design interior decorating backyard inspirationWe used three different brands of garden paint to get the best combination of colours, all of which took two coats of paint to get a strong enough colour. The first layer would have resulted in a seaside-style ‘washed’ finish, but we wanted a defined colour for each shed. In fact, the best paint we used was actually the B&Q own brand garden paint, which we used for the cream-coloured trims. This was thicker than the other paints so it went on much more easily, with fewer drips, and only really needed one coat to cover the treated wood.

What do you think of the trend for sheds decorated like beach huts? Have you gone for a bright or pastel shade in your garden? Perhaps you’ve gone all-out coastal with a striped design? Let me know by leaving me a comment below or by tagging me in your Instagram photos @Cassiefairy.


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Glamping inspiration – My dream bell tent

If you have to go camping, it might as well be in one of these. I hereby admit that I am a bell tent fan. I feel like I’ve been spotting them everywhere I go and it’s only making me covet them more and more. Yes, glamping is certainly a holiday I can get on-board with, if it’s in one of these canvas beauties. bell tent camping glamping vintage 2Hertz glamping at Blogstock 2014-2bell tents latitude circus tent canvas marquee teepee tipi colourful-2I’ve only stayed in a bell tent once, for a couple of nights at Blogstock, (check out my Blogstock pics here) but it was one of the best camping experiences I’ve ever had. The extra height meant that my husband could stand up without any problems, and I didn’t have to crawl in and out of the tent doorway. There was plenty of room for all our stuff (we don’t really travel light, I blame our car with it’s giant boot for that) and it could even fit a double bed in too, so you can imagine how comfortable we were.

And when it rained, our canvas tent remained pleasingly dry. There was no chance of accidentally bumping the canvas and causing moisture seepage like in a traditional tent; the sides were so far away from us! We could simply lie back and watch the rain pitter-patter down outside out tent, feeling super-cosy tucked under a blanket with a carpeted floor beneath our feet.

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Urban or rustic – what’s your garden style?

It’s that time of year again. Whether it’s the weather, having more time during longer days, or the summer break you’ve booked off work. Whatever the reason, July and August seem to be the months of the year that we spend the most amount of time in our gardens. So today I’m sharing a quick garden quiz to help you find out your own creative ‘garden style’, plus there’s a chance to enter a competition with Furniture Village to win a designer rattan garden chair worth £1395 so read on to find out more..!Garden Quiz - Copy (2)Even year-round allotment gardeners can be found putting even more effort into their veggie patch at this time of year – pruning, sowing, harvesting, fertilising and netting. And fair-weather gardeners like me finally find the time to step outside and do a little bit of weeding. The mowing needs to be done regularly – it seems like the grass grows at lightening speed during August, and returns to its original length only days after being cut. There’s so much maintenance that could be done in the garden but all we really want to do fire up the BBQ and lie back on a sunlounger with a Pimms. Or maybe that’s just me?? Continue reading “Urban or rustic – what’s your garden style?” »


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Creating a cheap & simple eco pond – No matter what size your garden

Ponds are a fantastic addition to any garden, whether you’re looking to add a beautiful and relaxing focal point or to attract pond dwelling wildlife such as amphibians or insects, or a combination of both. While I have only a little knowledge of garden water features, thankfully the lovely experts at Swell know all about it. All those years of experience makes them extremely knowledgeable on the subject and they have very kindly offered to share this guest post to show us all how to make the most of our gardens with an eco pond . Enjoy!eco pond 2One of the most common stumbling blocks for those wishing to own a pond is a lack of adequate outside space. It’s no secret that housing even a small, traditional pond requires a reasonably large plot. For example, typical dimensions of a small pond are likely to be something in the region of L120 x W90 x H40cm which is no good at all if you’ve only got a small back yard. Of course, they also require a fair amount of time and/or money to set-up and maintain.

But never fear, although a traditional garden pond may be off the cards, a small outside space and limited budget does not mean that you have to do away with the idea of having a pond all together. By creating a mini eco pond you can have your very own pond, no matter what size your outside space, on a shoe string budget. Even better, you will be helping numerous species of amphibians and insects to flourish!

So where to begin? To start you will need to choose your container. One of the many great things about eco ponds is that the choice of what to use as your pond container is entirely up to you. It could be anything from a washing up bowl to an old Belfast sink. Feel free to be as creative as you like!

Container

Your container will need to be buried in the ground (ideally about a third of the way) to ensure that it isn’t knocked over and also that it is not too high for wildlife to crawl into. Alternatively, say if you have no grass area at all and consequently cannot bury your container, you will need to secure it perhaps by placing heavy rocks in the bottom of it. Then you will need to build a pathway leading into for wildlife. Pebbles, bark or wood logs are ideal for this. Regardless of whether or not your container is buried in the ground, it’s a good idea to add bark and pebbles inside it so as to provide a platform for wildlife to climb on.

Dechlorinator

It’s more than likely that you will use tap water to fill your pond. If this is the case then be sure to use pond dechlorinator, which is something that you will find in the pond products section of any leading pond and aquatics supplier and is very good value for money. Dechlorinator helps to remove harmful chlorine and chloramines found in tap water and thus makes it safe for aquatic life.

Plants

Live plants such as Elodea (or pond weed) help to ensure that your pond is well oxygenated through the process of photosynthesis. This is vital for ensuring the breakdown of decaying waste as well as the survival of plants and pond dwelling wildlife. Additional ideas for plants that flourish in ponds or wet soil and will also enhance the aesthetics of your pond include; Waterlilies, Marsh Marigold,  Common Skullcap, Common Valerian, Willow herb, Creeping Jenny, Water Mint and Watercress.

Food

Adding a little food to your eco pond such as pond tadpole and frog food will help to encourage wildlife into it.eco pond 3

When it comes to your eco pond, you really can create a pond that is as individual as you are. You can hand-pick every component of it from a container, which can essentially be anything that holds water, right through to the type of pebbles that you use. So why not let your creativity run wild! Also know that you will be helping to provide a home for many of Britain’s pond-dwelling creatures that sadly are constantly under threat from a reduction in their natural habitat.

For more information about pond keeping as well as a wide variety of pond products and equipment please visit Swell UK. And if you have any ideas of your own to share please do leave me a comment below or tweet me a photo of your own water feature to @Cassiefairy.

 


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DIY Project – Make your own personalised wedding bouquet

One of the key things that a bride-to-be should consider for her wedding (besides her wedding dress of course!) is the wedding bouquet. Any bride would want to be sure to choose the most amazing, beautiful and unique flower bouquet on her wedding day, but simply choosing beautiful blooms is sometimes not enough. Some flowers have different symbolism (older generations may point this out!), some may not withstand a whole day of carrying, while others may cause hayfever outbreaks! So it’s important to consider which flowers would be best for you on the big day and one sure-fire way to get the beautiful bouquet your heart desires is by making your own. And that’s where today’s guest post comes in..!Customized bouquetWhile I’m away for the half term holiday I’ve asked the specialist team at Fresh Flowers how to make a special, unique, and thrifty bouquet at home. Thankfully they were able to help and have come up with a DIY wedding bouquet project that you can follow step-by-step. This way you will be able to carry a beautiful personalised bouquet down the aisle, while also saving money. So for those women out there who are starting to plan for their weddings, here is the tutorial (with handy photos) that you can refer to in the run-up to the big day.Step 5First of all, here are some of the things that you need to prepare to make this DIY wedding bouquet: Continue reading “DIY Project – Make your own personalised wedding bouquet” »

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