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? Green fingers…

Well, my garden makeover is ploughing on (excuse that pun) but this week I’ve done something that had left me in pain. Last week I shared my plans for making a big change to my garden over the Summer but now I can barely walk because my legs are so sore. Was it from digging? I hear your ask… Did you hit your leg with a hammer while building? Nope. I hurt my legs from painting the fence. And I have no idea how!

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I think it might have had something to do with bending down, squatting and moving along, repeated 100 times while painting all the planks of wood on the thrifted back fence. It certainly felt like I’d done a ‘buns-and-thighs’ workout afterwards and I actually suffered for a few days! But at least the reddish fence has become a greenish fence after 2 coats of paint. Ideally I’d like to paint another layer of ‘forest green’ treatment on but I was rather fed up with it by the time this run of fencing was finished so it’ll have to wait! Plus, I was covered in green paint. Like nothing you’ve ever seen before. I didn’t think I was being messy but it’s in my hair, on my face, all over my (ok, hubby’s) boiler suit and my floral wellies are now sporting additional foliage in the form of green splotches. Green fingered is an understatement!

Other improvements: we’ve flattened part of the lawn by moving some turf off the bump at the top of the lawn, and we’ve moved excess soil onto the lower part of the grass. It’s definitely not flat, but it’s less of a tripping hazard now! We’ve also laid some weed-resistant fabric over the area that I’m planning to move the caravan to (you can see it in the photo above). I’m planning to cover the area with wood-chippings to save us from needing to move the caravan to weed or mow beneath it. That’s the plan anyway!

More updates to come soon… How’s your summer gardening going? :)

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How does your garden grow? Making a start…

At the weekend I told you all about my plans for growing a garden that ‘Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary’ would be proud of and this week I wanted to share the first step in making our garden into the ‘outdoor room’ that I’d love for it to become. Essentially, we are overlooked by two neighbours, and an access path runs all the way around the outside of our garden, so anyone can walk-by our garden at any time and see what we are up to. Aside from neighbours wheeling their bins and bikes around the path, it hardly gets used, but even so there is a massive lack of definition in where our garden ends and the neighbour’s garden starts. In fact, when we first moved in the neighbours behind told us that they had no idea that there was even a back door on the house, because they had never seen anyone going into the garden, but could see us very clearly now that we had started to use it! So privacy is an issue – not least because the little girl seems scared to play out in the neighbour’s garden when we are outside too – and we’d like to enclose the space a little to make it safer for our cats to play outside and not get attacked by the neighbour’s “cat killer” dog.

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So we have put up a thrifted fence. I say thrifted because we spotted it after driving home from the carboot sale. The fence was being taken down from someone else’s garden by a builder, so we stopped for a chat and he explained that the fence had been hit by a car and half of it was damaged so it was being replaced by the insurance company. The old fence was going to be scrapped and a lot of it was smashed up, but some planks were still sturdy enough to use so we politely asked if we could give them a new home. So it took a few journeys to move all the fencing to our house but we got it here in the end and measured it out in the garden.

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Luckily, there was enough of a useable run of wood to fence all the way across the back of the garden. So with the help of my father-in-law, my husband put up the frame and nailed the fence planks to it, and within a day the fence was in place. I’m not too keen on the reddish colour and the planks need treating again, so I’m going to buy some ‘forest green’ treatment and will paint it on myself.

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To celebrate the new fence, mum bought us some fruit trees that had been discounted from QD – pear trees, couple of apple trees and a cherry tree. They are small but sturdy so we have dug them into the corner of the garden, which we intend to become a ‘wildlife’ area of the garden. We may well choose to move the centre tree as it grows, but at the moment it was better to get them into the ground and growing rather than dying in their pots! So after one busy day, we have a back fence up and 5 trees planted and it makes quite a difference to the garden; we can really see what space we have now that a boundary is up! More updates to come next week so watch this space!


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How to make a yearly family photobook

If you’re a parent, aunt, uncle, or grandparent, you know how time flies. Kids just grow up so fast. Which is why I think using Blurb to create yearly photo albums, is such a cool idea. A yearly photo book is the perfect solution—and it’s not as time-consuming or difficult to produce as you might think. Read on to discover achievable steps to success.

Step 1: Create a “year” folder on your computer to file your photographs and add additional folders inside, one for each month. This will help keep things in order and make flowing content into your book easy later on. You can also add a text file in each month’s folder that you can use to jot down any quotes or stories.

Step 2: Be camera-ready! Keep your camera in the same spot in the house—ready to grab—for when you want to document the latest masterpiece, fancy dress outfit, or daring antic that comes your way. Continue reading


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Ideas to spruce up your old sofa

Has your sofa seen better days? If the cushions are losing their plumpness and the seams are splitting, you might want to just throw it out. Or do you? That sofa has sentimental value: it was the very first piece furniture you bought with your first salary, it was where you usually have popcorn dates with your spouse, and it’s the most comfortable place in your home. Yes, it might be thread-bare and worn, but you just do not have the heart to get rid of it. That’s how I feel about my old battered leather sofa (that I bought second-hand in the first place) because even though it’s old and a bit saggy, it’s still my dream sofa – the kind that you sink into in coffee shops! – and that kind of comfort only comes from usage over the years.

Well, if your old couch really is that comfortable or sentimental and you cannot stand to be parted from it, you can give it a makeover to get it looking good again. You can still get yourself a new sofa and move the old couch into a different part of the house of course, but there are a lot of different options that you can look at when you are looking to renovate your favourite place to sit.

DIY ideas for a sofa makeover

Reupholstering your old couch

One way that you can get your old couch looking like new is to get it reupholstered. Go to a home-improvement store or a large furniture shop and choose the type of material you are going to use. Preferably, use the same kind of upholstery material that your old couch is originally made of When choosing colours and patterns, ensure that the material you choose does not clash with the colours and patterns of the room where your couch is placed. Is the couch too bouncy and has lost its firmness? Then perhaps you might want to replace any dodgy springs at the same time to restore its firmness. The leather upholstery on my sofa is fine as it is so I’ll just be giving it a wipe over with some leather treatment and buff it up to restore shine. The problem with my sofa is that the base is a bit saggy from years of use and it certainly needs fixing or a little extra reinforcement!

Dressing up your sofa

Once you have fixed the base (i.e. you have reupholstered it or replaced the faulty springs), then you can dress up your old sofa yourself and transform it into something which looks good and feels comfortable again. In fact, you may even find that this option is a lot cheaper than having your old couch reupholstered, especially if yours is not seriously tattered and battered.

An easy way to cover up any unsightly rips in the fabric or stains that can’t be removed is to use a sofa cover. If you have any sewing skills, you can even make one yourself to fit your sofa exactly. And if you’re really desperate for a quick fix, use a colorful blanket; just tuck the blanket tightly into the sofa seats. This is a quick and easy way to bring back life to your old couch.

Orange Tweed Mill Blanket Knitted Wool Throw Tartan grey sofa retro dralon cushion 60s 70s

Getting some new cushions

Another great way to add some pizzazz to your old couch is to get some new cushions for it. If you throw a coloured blanket over your couch and then add some cushions which complement the colours, you can roll away the years of your longtime seating partner. This is an inexpensive way to bring a breath of fresh air to your living room, whilst preserving your favourite couch and making sure that it has a use for many more years to come. Again, you can easily make your own cushions – see my DIY efforts here and here.

Saying Goodbye

However, you may find that your old couch is just too old or damaged to be reused. For this, the most cost effective solution is to replace your favourite seat in your home. You may still be able to preserve your old couch in some way, perhaps using it in your garage or patio, but also remember that you get a chance to choose a new sofa which is going to make your living room even more comfortable!

Why not go for a nice L-shaped sofa to make the most of the space in your living room or even go for a reclining sofa? There are lots of options out there when you need to find a new sofa. So, when you are sitting in your living room with your feet up on your new sofa, you may just forget about your old couch completely!


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How to make a living room table using an old pallet

Today I’m having a rare day off! I’m very grateful to my writer friend Amandine who has agreed to fill in for me and has written this fabulous article about making her own pallet coffee table – enjoy!

Last September I moved to Milan with my husband into an amazing two-levels loft apartment. We instantly fell in love with this place and it quickly became ‘ours’. The living room was already furnished with modern white and brown bookshelves and a TV stand, and in the same room, we had a staircase to get to the second floor, an old white desk and even a vintage fridge! I did rather like how the apartment was furnished but my only problem was the living room table; a simple black ikea table that had already been ruined by the previous tenants and I desperately wanted to change it for a natural wood, vintage-style table. After a little research on the Internet, I decided to make my own table using an old pallet bought for 3 euros at the “ortomercato” of Milan. Here is my tutorial to make your own:

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Here is what you need to buy before starting:

  • 5 meters of heavy sandpaper - sure it is thick because you will need to remove 1 cm of the entire surface
  • 2 litres of clear varnish
  • 4 caster wheels with fixings of any length depending on how high you want you table to be and two casters that can be locked to ensure the table stays in one place when you’re using it!
  • Plastic gloves

I chose a particularly old and dirty pallet to give a vintage aspect to my living room. The first step was to clean and sand the pallet by removing 1 cm of the old wood. Use gloves to avoid splinters getting under your skin! This was the hardest and longest part: it took me 8 hours to sand every part of the pallet to get a soft and clean surface, but you can always use an electric sander to get a quicker result. It was nice to see the grain of the wood appearing as I sanded away the layers.

Next clean off the pallet to remove the dust and wipe it down to prepare it to varnished. You can paint the pallet with clear varnish twice to protect it against damage and water but leave 24 hours before starting the second layer so that it dries hard.

Leave the pallet to dry for at least two days after varnishing to be sure it has absorbed all the varnish. Finally, you can add the four wheels, putting the two locking casters at diagonal corners to stabilize your table. You can also add a glass table top that you can order to the right measurements for your table.