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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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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Tuesday Shoesday – Blue suede boots for autumn

I’ve never seen an autumn like it. There are so many leaves on the ground at the moment that you can’t really see the grass anymore. The colours are so vibrant and I’m sure there are more shades of orange, red, green, yellow and brown in this year’s fallen leaves than ever before. And with a garden covered in beautiful autumn leaves like this, who wouldn’t go outside for a spot of leave-kicking at the weekend? Well, that’s what I did anyway!autumn-shoes-blue-suede-boots-kicking-leaves-fashion-trend-winterMy husband did the most adorable thing and raked the leaves into the shape of a heart. And then even went to the trouble of spelling out the word autumn across the middle. He’s a creative sort and knows how much I love this time of year. I’m pretty sure that’s why he did it, and not just to get a great Instagram photo for himself. Anyway, after he’d finished taking some snaps, I had the best fun kicking my way through the words and destroying the whole thing, bwahahahha!autumn-kicking-leaves-gifAs it’s Tuesday Shoesday I felt it would be appropriate to share some snaps of my new autumn boots at the same time. After my trusty brown boots finally crumbled after two years of constant wear, I decided it was time for a new pair. I wanted them to last me well, but look a little more cool than I usually choose. Plus, I needed my shoes to come in under my £20 budget too. That’s not too much to ask is it? Well, apparently yes, it is.autumn-shoes-blue-suede-boots-kicking-leaves-fashion-trend-winter-8I had trouble finding a pair of boots that did everything I needed. I mean, I just wanted some boots with a small heel, speedy zip fastening (I’ve no time for laces these days), in lovely faux suede or leather, and in this year’s hottest colour navy blue. After shopping around it started to look like my thrifty budget wasn’t going to stretch to a new pair of boots for me this year. However, when I hopped onto the Deichmann website I found rows and rows of shoes and boots, with most of them priced at £20 and under.autumn-shoes-blue-suede-boots-kicking-leaves-fashion-trend-winter-4I perked up a bit at this point and clicked through out their most recent collection for Autumn/Winter 2017. Wahey! Boots! Wedge boots, Chelsea boots, ankle boots and knee-high boots. And not just boots; my favourite shoe style brogues were available in patent navy blue too. But that’s not what I was there for. I stuck to my shopping list and looked only at the ankle boots section. My will-power is strong.autumn-shoes-blue-suede-boots-kicking-leaves-fashion-trend-winter-3 Continue reading “Tuesday Shoesday – Blue suede boots for autumn” »


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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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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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Tend your garden in Spring to create a healthier, low-cost Summer

It’s a common misconception that fruit can only be grown in ‘warmer’ climates. Okay for some fruits this is true but there are so many fruits that you can actually grow yourself in your own garden, even in the British weather! With Spring finally upon us, now is the perfect time to start thinking about getting the most out of your garden. How exciting would it be if you could use your own home grown fruits or vegetables for baking, drinks and other concoctions all summer long? You’ll be able to enjoy the gardening aspect (and therefore get more exercise and fresh air!) as well as the delicious taste of your home grown fruit or veg.DIY plant markers for garden-4Growing your own fruit and veg is not only satisfying, but very healthy. Having constant access to all kinds of fruit and veg will encourage you to be more adventurous with your meal planning and have healthier snacks throughout the day. Try and focus on growing fruit and vegetables that you and your family like, and eat a lot of. This way you’ll be sure everyone is happy and you’ll all be able to enjoy freshly grown seasonal produce. Along with the health benefits you’ll also be saving yourself some money, as it costs little to grow your own in comparison to the prices you pay at the local supermarket.spring garden veggit patchBefore you start buying seeds and raking over the soil, think about what types of fruit and veg would work well for you this summer, that way you’ll enjoy lots of fresh produce with minimal wastage. You could grow yourself some strawberries, apples, blackberries or grapes to use in homemade crumbles or pies. You could even use your fruit to create some exciting summery cocktails or fruity drinks to enjoy in the glorious sunshine. There are also so many different types of veg you could grow, from tomatoes, potatoes, asparagus, carrots or even artichokes! Think of all the dishes you’ll want to make with your home-grown veggies; homemade pies, fresh salads and even home-grown pesto..! You can save so much money on family meals by growing your own produce at home and it’s really fun to do with the kids too.

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Weekend DIY project – Welly boot plant pots

Everybody knows wellington boots are an amazing accessory for any wet day, but unfortunately we tend to find ourselves only wearing them a handful of times throughout the year. As a result of this, especially with the little ones, the next time you go to pop them on they’re too small. Well, if you find this to be the case then don’t worry, you can make yourself some welly planters! What better way to not only add a little fun to your garden, but to recycle too! Here’s a guide on how you can make your wellies into fun little plant pots and add a little extra colour to your garden.welly boot DIY project_-9

Make your own DIY planter from recycled wellies!

Before you begin making your welly planters, there’s a few things you’ll need:

  • Wellington Boots
  • A Drill
  • Compost
  • Seeds
  • Watering Can
  • Stones or Pebbles
  • Waterproof labels (if you wish to label your plants)

Now you have everything you need, you can get started. Make sure you wash your wellington boots with warm water and a little soap, just to give them a freshen up. Dry them off with an old tea towel and then you’re good to go. You can use new wellington boots if your current ones still fit, that’s up to you, but I’d recommend going rummaging at the carboot sale to pick up a used pair for pennies! Next, remove any insoles or liners that are inside the wellington boots, as we need as much space as we can get.

Hold the wellington from the bottom, sole facing upwards (and use a clamp on a workbench to hold it in place!) while you drill a few small holes around the edges of the boot and a couple on the sole. This will make sure that when you water your plants, the water drains out evenly and the compost will be able to breathe. Fill the bottom of the wellington with some stones or pebbles, this is to weigh the welly down so that if there are any blustery days, your new planter will be less likely to fall over. Also, having stones at the bottom will make it that little bit easier for the water to drain out, as there will be room between the compost and the holes.

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Book Review – Inspiration for colourful outdoor spaces with “Happy Home Outside” by Charlotte Hedeman Guéniau

It may be wet and snowing outside this morning but no amount of bad weather can dampen my mood. And that’s because I’ve been enjoying reading a particularly sunny book this weekend – Happy Home Outside by Charlotte Hedeman Guéniau.happy home outside book review garden inspiration summer spring 16It’s an inspirational ‘exterior design’ book packed full of ideas for making your garden into a truly magical space. With sun-lit photos, bursts of fruity colour and want-to-sit-there locations throughout, it’s certainly been keeping me in an optimistic mood. In fact, it’s made me look forward to summer (as a winter baby I always prefer cooler months) and I can actually imagine myself sitting outside this year and spending some time in the sun (wearing SPF50, of course) thanks to the photos in this publication. happy home outside book review garden inspiration summer partyhappy home outside book review garden plants inspiration summer-2With a foreword from Will Taylor of Bright.Bazaar – one of my favourite design blogs and source of many colourful Pins – this book kicks off with a rousing call to enjoy ‘The Outdoor Life’ this year; to seize the moment, to surround yourself with colour and nature, and to spend quality time with friends and family. I literally couldn’t agree more.HHO pg102 pic (c) Skovdal & Skovdal HHO pg 32 pic (c) Skovdal & Skovdal

From Happy Home Outside: Everyday Magic for Outdoor Life by Charlotte Hedeman Guéniau. Picture credits: Skovdal &Skovdal. Published by Jacqui Small (£25).

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