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: 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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My upcycled picture frame breakfast tray project is in Reloved Magazine!

I’m delighted to share with you some pics of my latest project in Reloved magazine. This month I made a breakfast-in-bed tray as a romantic treat for Valentine’s Day. What do you think??I upcycled an old picture frame and turned it into a breakfast tray by removing the glass, and decoupaging old book pages (a falling-apart copy of Jane Eyre and a Marilyn Monroe biography, if you’re interested!) onto the back-board. It’s a similar effect to the book-page feature wall I created in my bedroom – if you missed that blog post you can check it out here.I added a couple of decorative handles (taken off some old drawers that used to be in my mum’s kitchen!) and gave the whole tray a protective coat of sealing varnish.

The full step-by-step guide to making the picture frame tray for yourself can be found in Issue 39 of Reloved magazine, and if you’re quick you can still pick it up in the shops this week. The next issue comes out on 23rd Feb, so you’ve not got long to grab a copy!Here’s some photos of the magazine itself – I’m always SO thrilled to be featured in print and see my projects shared with so many thrifty readers. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing my name on the page as ‘the designer’ – eeee!

My one-cup teapot set is from The Caravan Trail – lovely bright colours for Spring!

The next of Reloved (Issue 40) is out this week and contains lots of lovely Spring and Easter-themed upcycling projects so be sure to check that out too!


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I’ve been featured in Papercrafter magazine!

Today I’ve got some really exciting news to share – I’ve been featured in Papercrafter magazine! A whole two-page spread has been dedicated to my tips, ideas and projects and I couldn’t be happier! I’ve taken some photos of the feature so that you can see what it looks like and maybe have a read of the pages. Continue reading “I’ve been featured in Papercrafter magazine!” »


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Books, books, books – What I got for Christmas & first impressions

I guess I was quite adamant when I said I only wanted books for Christmas, huh? Because that’s what I got – and piles of ’em! So you can imagine how thrilled I am to start the new year with a stack of books to read and plenty of reviews to bring you throughout 2017. I’m just about to finish reading Dave Gorman Versus The Rest of The World so I’m excited to dive straight into these new books. Here’s what I received and my first impressions:book review 2016 2017 books tim peake amy schumer caitlin moran gretchen rubin-3Caitlin Moran – Moranifesto

I’ve read most of Moran’s books and this one has been on my wishlist since it was published in March 2016. I didn’t buy it straight away though because I find hardbacks more cumbersome to read and I was waiting for the paperback version to come out. How long would I have to wait? While I was browsing a book store in Ely in November I found this signed first edition and pointed it out to hubby. Thankfully he took the hint and managed to snaffle it for me without me knowing! Can’t wait to get started on this one.book review 2016 2017 books tim peake amy schumer caitlin moran gretchen rubin-9Tim Peake – Hello, is this planet Earth?

As someone who followed Tim Peake’s mission religiously (and was giddy with excitement when I met him only a couple of days after he returned to the UK) you can imagine how excited I was to unwrap this book. It’s a chunky square book full of beautiful photographs taken by Tim during his time on the international space station. The cover is a shiny hardback (which I think looks a little bit cheap or unofficial) but when you open the pages, it’s full of stunning photos alongside Tim’s own words about the images and locations. I’d actually recommended this book to mum as a suitable present for my husband, but it was actually him who bought it for me. Good thing we didn’t all buy it for each other!book review 2016 2017 books tim peake amy schumer caitlin moran gretchen rubin-7

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Pieday Friday – Sweet Potato Pasta with Alfredo Sauce 

Today’s recipe is from the newly released book ‘Eat With Intention’ by Cassandra Bodzak. This is not just a recipe book,but it’s also a practical course in quieting your mind, fueling your body, loving yourself, and changing your life for the better. Alongside the recipes there’s reminders to take care of yourself, and little meditation suggestions for everyday calm. This sweet potato pasta dish is just one example of the healthy yet fulfilling recipes in the book, and it’s quickly becoming one of my go-to recipe books for dinner (and puddings too!). But don’t just take my word for it – you can win a copy of the book for yourself! Scroll down to enter the giveaway below.sweet-potato-pastaSometimes we get so fixed on an idea of something that we close ourselves off from the infinite amount of possibilities for how it could manifest in our lives. I encourage you to think about something you deeply desire right now and strip it down to its basic core, releasing all of its trappings. When we are clear about what we truly desire, we open the door to unexpected opportunities and keep our eyes open for them along the way. Expand your options and expect miracles. Talk about an unexpected way to get your cravings met! If you have been craving the warm, filling, creamy decadence of fettuccine Alfredo without the dairy and gluten, then this is the recipe for you.

Feeling It Meditation

Sit in easy pose with your hands over your heart, eyes closed, breathing in through your nose and out your mouth. Allow yourself to fill up from your heart radiating outward with the feelings of your desire fulfilled. Release any specific images that may come up and return to your heart and tune in to the feeling that is enveloping you around having what you truly desire. Sit in this feeling for the next 3 minutes. When time is up, take a deep breath in and silently say to yourself, “I release my attachment to what it looks like and I welcome in unexpected ways for it to manifest.” Exhale and relax.

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients: 15-ounce (425 g) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed,15-ounce (425 g) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, ½ cup (120 ml) unsweetened almond milk, 7 tablespoons (105 g) nutritional yeast, 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons (30 g) Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon (14 g) vegan butter, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) garlic powder, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) salt, plus extra to taste, ½ teaspoon ground turmeric, 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, 2 sweet potatoes, skinned and spiralized, Chopped walnuts, to garnish, Chopped parsley, to garnish

  1. To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a food processor and pulse until thick and creamy. Season with salt to taste.
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the sweet potato “noodles” for
    5 minutes, until softened. Add the sauce to the saucepan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until heated through. Garnish with the walnuts and parsley, and serve. (Alternatively, heat the sauce in a separate saucepan and ladle it over a plate of noodles.)

9781631062360Recipe and images extracted from Eat with Intention by Cassandra Bodzak, photography by Evi Abeler. Published by Race Point Publishing (£14.99). More information on the book can be found here.

And if you would like to win a copy of “Eat with Intention” please enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. There are plenty of ways you can earn entries into this giveaway, so best of luck!

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Giveaway open to UK residents only. Giveaway runs from 18th -30th November 2016. One winner will be chosen at random after this date and contacted via email.


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House of Plants book review

Today marks the release of a fantastic book for all you plant lovers out there. House of Plants by Caro Langton & Rose Ray has just landed on bookshelves all around the country and you can be one of the first people to get your hands on a copy – yes, I’m hosting a giveaway to WIN a brand new copy of this fantastic book for yourself, read on to find out how you can enter below!

As someone who is constantly pinning photos of lovely loft apartments with glorious displays of tropical plants and succulents, I can’t help but adore this book. The photography by Erika Raxworthy is gorgeous – totally Pinworthy, I’m sure you’ll agree. And the practical advice and plantcare tips make even me (who has killed every plant she’s ever owned!) believe that I could have a botanical paradise in my own home. Today I’m sharing an extract from the book about pruning plants and caring for cacti – I hope it helps!

PRUNING & CARE (Cacti & Other Succulents)

It’s always wise to handle a cacti or succulent with care, no matter how harmless or hardy they may look. You may do damage to them, and equally the most innocent-looking species can cause skin irritation and pricks. Waxy-leaved succulents, including certain species of echevaria, can be bruised if their leaves are handled. Cacti with very fine bristles such as the Opuntia or ‘Prickly Pear’ easily shed their spines and penetrate skin. When removing a spiky cactus from its pot, you may need a pair of thick gloves to protect your hands. Alternatively, scrunch up a few sheets of newspaper until thick enough to wrap around the spines without piercing your skin.

PRUNING

Cacti generally need little in the way of pruning, except after they have finished blooming. At this time, the dried flowers can be gently removed. Leafy succulents tend to shed their leaves quite regularly, and any older, withered leaves or flowers can simply be plucked off to improve the look of the plant. When pruning a leafy succulent, remember that any healthy stems or leaf cuttings removed by accident can be easily propagated rather than thrown away.

CLEANING

Inevitably, your indoor plants will gradually pick up dust on their surface, which can inhibit their growth. In the case of a particularly prickly cactus, you may see little bits of loose soil caught up in its spines when you get it home. There are two ways to best clean different succulents. For prickly desert cacti, the best method is to use a soft paintbrush to stroke away any dirt or dust. For forest cacti or other spineless succulents, you can gently clean them with a damp cloth or sponge, taking particular care with more delicate leaves and stems.

FEEDING

When grown indoors, succulents are likely to mature slowly, and therefore require little fertilisation to survive. However, if you would like to encourage a succulent to thrive and flower, we recommend using a diluted house plant fertiliser regularly from early spring to late summer, and never during winter months when it is in its rest period. Specific instructions for how often to feed different species can be found on each plant focus page in our ‘House of Plants’ chapter.

This advice section was extracted from House of Plants by Caro Langton & Rose Ray, photography by Erika Raxworthy, published by Frances Lincoln (£20). You can find the book online here. But here’s the great news – you can WIN a copy of this lovely book for yourself. You’ll be sent a brand new copy of this newly published book direct from the publishers so what are you waiting for? Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below to be in with a chance of winning this gorgeous book.

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Giveaway open to UK residents only and runs from 5th November – 16th November 2016. Winner will be contacted via email and will need to provide a delivery address to receive the prize. Best of luck!


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Book Review + Interview – Upcycling by Max McMurdo

I can’t believe that it’s been a whole week since this book launched and I’m only now telling you about it. I’ve had my eyes on it for weeks and have been eagerly awaiting it’s release. Teaser tweets and Instagram posts by Max have got my excitement for this book bubbling up to a dangerous level. Combine that with my already OTT love of thriftiness and DIYing, and you’ve got one giddy girl on your hands. So you can imagine how quickly I tore open the packaging of my book delivery last weekend.gumtreebus-max-mcmurdoThankfully, it book itself didn’t disappoint. I knew it would full of Max’s trademark industrial projects and thrifty flips, but I didn’t realise just how comprehensive it would be. This isn’t just a ‘look at this pretty room’ design book. Oh no. It’s full of practical advice and step-by-step, photo-by-photo tutorials. It’s so detailed that even I feel confident about removing a drum from an old washing machine and turning it into an illuminated side table.max-mcmurdo-upcycling-diy-book-review-2With techniques for measuring and cutting, drilling and sanding, wiring and finishing, Max teaches you all the DIY skills you need to know in order to complete the projects in the book. If you want to know what a nylock nut is, Max’ll tell you. I thought I was alright at a bit of DIY. Good, even. But it turns out that there’s so much more I can learn. Thank goodness I’ve got this book to teach me the tricks of the trade. They don’t call me thrifty for nothin’ and if I’m going to upcycle, I’m darn well going to learn how to do it properly (and safely!).

Just before the book launched last week I had the opportunity to ask the author some probing questions so that I could share his answers with you today:max-mcmurdo-upcycling-diy-book-review Continue reading “Book Review + Interview – Upcycling by Max McMurdo” »


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Pineapple Infused Vodka + DIY Cocktail Glass

Summer is in full swing AND it’s the weekend, double wooo! To celebrate, I’m sharing a summery cocktail and spirit infusion and a quick DIY cocktail glass project. These have all been extracted from Mason Jar Nation by JoAnn Moser. This recipe wold be great for fruity summer cocktails or even for a birthday party so read on to find out how to make it…mason jar nation book reviewIn honour of moonshiners of old and new, here’s a less volatile preparation that doesn’t require a still: pineapple-infused vodka. Complete the concoction with a Mason jar cocktail glass and a summery drink recipe using your homemade hooch, and you’ll be good to go.

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An Amsterdam Affair book launch & interview with author Amanda Addison

I have some very exciting – and much anticipated – news to tell you today. The latest novel from award-winning writer Amanda Addison has finally landed on Kindles all around the country. An Amsterdam Affair was launched on Amazon on Thursday and I’ve been lucky enough to interview Amanda to find out her inspiration behind the novel and how she likes to work. Having thoroughly enjoyed reading her first novel Laura’s Handmade Life, I couldn’t wait to see what Amanda would come up with this time!addisonbeach-kindleSupported by the Arts Council, An Amsterdam Affair is a bitter-sweet family saga about searching for lost love and how families come undone and are re-made. At the heart of the story is a family secret. If you enjoyed the inter-generational themes of romance and second-chances in Last Tango in Halifax; or the artistic and seaside motifs in Notes for an Exhibition this may be the book for you. I’m sharing an extract from the novel below so have a read and see what you think! In the meantime, I’ll crack on with questioning Amanda about the inspiration behind her art, crafts and novel.

Whereabouts in the country are you based and how does the location inspire your art and writing?

I live in the countryside in South Norfolk, not so far from both the Norfolk and Suffolk coast. My favourite all-time place to be is beside the seaside. I’ve always had a real ‘call of the sea’ – my mother now lives a few minutes’ walk from the sea in Cornwall – so it must be in my blood. I love to paint and write about the sea – it’s a constantly changing subject and therefore one I never bore of! As an art student I made an artist’s book – entitled The Sea for my final show at Chelsea School of Art. It included paintings and poems and I covered it with blue silk. I’m a great admirer of the artist Maggie Hambling, who painted the sea every day for a year. Her shell sculpture, on the beach in Aldeburgh, is a key location for a romantic tryst in An Amsterdam Affair.

In many ways the settings in An Amsterdam Affair are almost characters in themselves, reflecting the main characters’ changing moods and emotions. Sam, one of the story’s narrators uses a beach hut as her studio. I write about East Anglian big skies, the sea, windswept beaches and flat landscapes both sides of the North Sea. Great Yarmouth, a town on the edge and Amsterdam, a city I lived in briefly many years ago, with its warren of streets, canals and cosmopolitan galleries.Addisonhut kindle2 small

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