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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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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How to plan a beautiful baby shower

When your pal is expecting her baby it’s a joyous occasion that you may wish to celebrate. Gathering all her friends around for a lovely afternoon tea party is a lovely way to celebrate your friend, and can even be used to reveal the gender of the baby. It’s basically a much calmer, daytime version of the hen party and you all had a great time at that party, didn’t you?! Basically, I think that any opportunity for a party and to get together with friends should be taken so here are my tips for baby showers:

baby-gold-party-shower-gender-reveal-partiesImage from BestFriendsForFrosting.com

Location: It’s likely that a baby shower will take place in someone’s home. Perhaps grandmother-to-be has a big enough conservatory to serve up an afternoon tea? Maybe a summer garden party is more your thing? Either of these options will hep to keep costs to a minimum as you won’t have to pay out for a venue. However it does mean that you’ll have to sort out the food yourself. Alternatively, a lovely lunch could be arranged at a favourite restaurant or tea shop, so ask around for prices per head and see if you can get a deal for a group booking. decorate-for-a-party-p131-photography-by-leslie-shewring

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Thrifty party decorations – DIY paper flowers

If you’re planning a party or simply want to jazz up the kids’ bedrooms, this is the DIY project for you! Paper flowers are easy to make and cost hardly anything, yet they are impressive decorations for any kind of party. You can make them in lots of different sizes and could tailor the colours to match your party theme; go orange and black for Halloween or bright rainbow hues to give a fiesta vibe to your summer BBQ. Gather a few together on a wall to create a backdrop for a wedding photobooth or hang as decorations over a birthday buffet table. Whatever you want to use them for, I guarantee that you won’t want to stop making them once you’ve started, so get your mates involved and even let the kids have ago at making plenty of paper flowers for your next event. Here’s how to make some impressive paper flowers:Decorate for A Party, p105, photography by Leslie ShewringThere are quite a few steps to these paper flowers, but they are well worth the time and once you have made a couple of them the process becomes faster. To make smaller versions just omit the inside yellow pieces and use fewer sheets, cut smaller, for the outer petals.

YOU WILL NEED assorted colours of tissue paper, fuzzy pipe cleaners, scissors

STEP ONE: Carefully stack approximately 12 sheets of tissue paper, lining up all the edges carefully. We decided to use 4 yellow for the centre, these are stacked on top, then 2 or 3 white and then 6 sheets of orange. Start to fold all sheets over at the same time in 5cm/2-inch folds. Now fold back the other way, and repeat accordion style until you have folded all the paper.

STEP TWO: Unfold all the paper carefully and take out the yellow paper that will be used for the centre of the flower. Fold the yellow paper back in pleats, then fold the folded paper in half. Trim off half of the unfolded ends.

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A floral bedroom makeover – Flooring dilemmas

Whenever I get that spring cleaning feeling, it always turns into a bigger job than I imagined. What starts out as a wipe-down-the-skirting-boards and dust-the-curtain-rail kind spring clean, always seems to turn into a complete room makeover. And this year is no exception. That urge to decorate has arrived and I’m starting this weekend! As you read this, I’ll probably already be up a ladder, painting the ceiling. The fact that we already had the right paint in the shed meant that there were no excuses. We had all the tools at our disposal to start a makeover project and this time, it’s the bedroom that’s getting a new lease of life.bedroom makeover ideas metal bed

Perfect cream metal bed frame

Having already decided to paint the walls the same shade of cream that we’d used in the hallway, it was easy to imagine what the end result would be. But it’s not just the walls that that needed to be changed – it was the flooring, furniture and window treatments too. So, in the absence of any before-and-after photos yet, today’s blog post is about choosing new flooring for the bedroom and to give you an idea of the kind of look we’re trying to achieve. In fact, you can take a look at this Pinterest board to find out the inspiration behind this spring makeover.decorating bedroom ideasSo, as you can probably tell from the images above, we’re trying to get a ‘country’ bedroom finish. Not too ornate or French, just cosy and a bit floral. Pretty similar to my little vintage caravan, but the cosy indoors version. Layering up quilts, using lots of cushions and draping snuggly rugs over the floor – that kind of look. But just what type of flooring will we use? THAT is the question.bedroom makeover ideas shabby chic Continue reading “A floral bedroom makeover – Flooring dilemmas” »


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Spring fashion – Style Icon Challenge

For my Style Icon Challenge this Spring I chose Holly Willoughby. I’ve always loved her classic girly style and could easily picture myself in any of the cute tea dresses she wears so it was an obvious choice for me.

I am a huge fan of floral patterns, especially as we head into summer, so shopping on Boohoo.com to pick out the cutest Holly-inspired dresses was great fun. There were plenty of pretty patterned options in the ‘New In’ section and I deliberated over a shortlist of 6 dresses – wrap, sleeveless, bodycon and bardot style –  in a variety of summery shades, before making my final choices.

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Using garden pumpkins for my autumn display

This week I decided that it was an appropriate time of year to create my annual autumn flowers display in the living room. It’s usually more of an October thing, but I’ve been feeling decidedly autumnal after kicking up the leaves last weekend, writing about my favourite autumn colours and textures on Tuesday Shoesday and blackberry picking (which resulted in a yummy blackberry tart). The squashes that we’ve grown in the garden played a big part in my decision to bring autumn indoors, because they have finally ripened and hardened so were ready to pick.

Growing pumpkins and squashes for autumn

I want to share some photos of the growth of the squash because I really couldn’t believe my eyes when this tiny plant took over the garden, with it’s tendrils travelling all the way to the back fence, sprouting small yellow balls as it went. In the end the plant produced about 30 potential mini-squashes, but the seed packet told me that the plant should only produce 2-3 fruits. I was confused about why my plant was doing so well, but decided to I leave it to do it’s thing and grow as many as possible. Only a couple of weeks later I found out that it had self-selected 4 balls to grow into mini-pumpkins, while all the other fruit balls shrivelled up. Amazing really! Here I’ve used the squashes in my tablescape along with a massive marrow – the courgette that hid away under a massive leaf and managed to grow itself to it’s full potential! Growing pumpkins and squashes for autumn-3 Growing pumpkins and squashes for autumn-6

I decided to go in search of some suitably autumnal flowers to complete the display and I found this ‘Autumn Fields’ bouquet from Debenhams Flowers (use discount code BLOGG33 for 33% off if you want to get your own bouquet for an autumn display!). I was pleased to find the bouquet packed full of orange gerberas, purple phlox and even orangey ‘cherry brandy’ roses – what a great colour combination for September/October and it’s these colours that really recreate the feeling of autumn for me. These really are luxury flowers and it made my sideboard look fantastically seasonal.tips to create an autumn floral tablescape display Autumn tablescape display - flowers and pumpkins-2I will probably add to the arrangement as I collect more conkers, autumn leaves and berries on my countryside walks, but for now I think it adds a lovely splash of colour to the room, and it definitely creates a feeling of warmth. It’s at this time of year that I really appreciate our mid-century modern living-room décor, as the teak furniture, leather sofa and orange wallpaper work together to ad warmth to the home and it really does look as autumnal indoors as it does outdoors.

Let me know if you enjoy creating floral displays in your home and get in touch if you’ve ever had an out-of-control plant in your veggie patch – I’d love to hear about it! Please leave me a comment below 🙂


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Colour-changing flowers…

Does anyone know anything about plants? Hydrangea bushes, in particular? It’s one of the few plants that was already living in our garden when we moved in two years ago and I really like it. I’ve been delighted with the sheer volume of flowers it produces each year and I love bringing them indoors for a summery floral display.

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The thing that has confused me about the plant is that they flowers seem to have changed colour. When we first moved in, the bush produced lilacy-blue flowers. Last year hubby gave it a strict pruning and when the flowers have bloomed this year they are all different colours; pink, blue, lilac and all shades in-between. Is this typical of a Hydrangea or have we done something wrong? Either way, I’m pleased with the variety of colours and it’s created a lovely display this year.

Hydrangea plant

There are so many flower heads on the bush that even after I’ve taken a big bunch of Hydrangea flowers to my mum yesterday there are still about 50 more flowers blooming in the garden. It’s definitely one of my favourite flowers and I’d love to grow some more Hydrangea plants – does anyone know whether I could take a cutting from my existing bush? And does anyone have any idea about why the flowers have changed colour? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Hydrangea flowers-2


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My little vintage caravan project ~ I’ve found the perfect shop!

It’s called The Caravan Trail and you can imagine how excited I was when I first stumbled upon the website after spotting a link on Twitter last week. It’s a website full of gorgeous homewares, with beautifully decorated crockery, pretty teapots and picnic items. And most importantly, there are caravan patterns everywhere! I ogled the ‘Festival’ collection for ages with its floral caravan designs and pretty bunting print before I decided on a pair of mugs. Obviously, I chose a caravan design for me – with multi-coloured campers and one just like my blue vintage caravan – and it was equally easy to chose a mug for hubby because there was a bright beach-hut design in the collection and my husband was a beach-hut builder – perfect!

His n Hers mugs from The Caravan Trail

I couldn’t wait for them to arrive and they were actually even better in ‘real life’ because the mugs are larger and even better quality than I expected. My tea break now lasts for longer due to the larger volume of liquid in my new cup hurrah! Hubby loves his mug too – not at all fazed by the floral girliness! – and it’s nice for the two of us to have a his ‘n’ hers set. I’ve been taking my mug out to the caravan while I’m working in there and it makes me smile every time I use it. Plus when I’m drinking from it indoors, I still feel connected to my caravan and it keeps me in a happy-camper mood!

I sent the link to the website to my equally caravan-mad pals and now I’m sharing it with you too, because I know you’ll love it as much as I do! Check out The Caravan Trail and let me know what your favourite collection is. I’m definitely going back for more and have got my eye on the melamine set for summer ‘al fresco’ eating, so watch this space!


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Tuesday Shoesday ~ Tropical palm prints

This week I watched a video on You Tube about the Aloha Summer collection from Dorothy Perkins and have been inspired to write a Tuesday Shoesday blog post all about this tropical trend. It’s a very ‘holiday’ look with bright colours – lots of summery yellow and blues – and plenty of floral prints. But it’s not the dainty ditsy flowery patterns from summers past: this year’s florals are tropical, with palm prints and big blousy flowers and this has inspired me to look around for some shoes and sandals that would compliment this collection. Have a watch of the video and let me know what trends you spot:

When you’re wearing a big bold tropical pattern, it might be best to pair this with some neutral shoes rather than over-do the trend from head to toe. I’ve looked for some neutral shoes that won’t take attention away from the print you’re wearing and some brighter coloured pumps to pick out the colours from the patterns:

how to wear summer tropical prints and patterns

All pretty prints & shoes from Dorothy Perkins

I also wanted to find a few floral patterned shoes in order to tap into the trend even if you don’t want to wear a bright print on your body. Not to mention the fact that I love patterned heels! I’ve found some pretty pairs online so let me know what you think of this trend and whether you’ll be wearing it yourself this summer 🙂

tropical floral summer print shoes sandals and pumps

Mr Shoes wedges / Dorothy Perkins sandals / Office pumps / Missguided heels


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Roses and Lilies

Today I just wanted to share a photo of a beautiful bunch of flowers I’m enjoying at home. There’s nothing better than having fresh flowers in the house; they brighten up the space, bring a focal point to the room and the smell of these roses and lillies is amazing!

pretty summer flowers - roses and lillies - by cassiefairy blog 2014

Hubby brought home the roses for me to celebrate my appearance in the local paper (see my blog post about it here) and a few days later he returned from picking up milk and bread at the supermarket with these lilies – which were reduced, despite the fact that most of the buds hadn’t even opened yet! That’s the kind of gift I like to receive from hubby – something thoughtful but thrifty! The roses had been marked down too, so my perfectly colour coordinated flower display only cost less than £4! They have already lasted a week and after a water change and stem trim, they are still blooming nicely. How silly that shops would think that flowers are ‘past it’ if a couple of buds have opened up, but how great that I can enjoy fresh flowers in my home for a tiny price! I’m always going to check the flower section in the supermarket from now on to see if I can find any more fresh floral bargains.

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