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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A quick garden update ~ Homemade salad dressing

Although I usually like to eat my salads plain or with a tiny side splodge of mayo, I’ve been converted to salad dressings since making my own. It was my husband who first suggested making a dressing, mainly because he really likes balsamic vinegar and olive oil and to be honest he was probably getting fed up of all the dull, bare salads I was making! I caved in when I realised that I would be able to make use of some of the rapidly-growing herbs from my new raised bed ‘herb garden’ and I was eager to give it a try.

Here are a few snaps of my herb garden which is quickly becoming even more unruly since I took these photos so I think it’s time for a trim!

DIY plant markers for garden using pebblesDIY homemade herb and balsamic oil dressing using herbs from the garden DIY homemade herb and balsamic oil dressing-2 DIY homemade herb and balsamic oil dressing

The recipe is simple enough: it just involved picking your favourite herbs – we’ve used two varieties of sage, thyme and lemon thyme, rosemary and oregano – and popping them into an empty bottle with a little salt, pepper and a squeeze of lemon. Fill with 2 thirds olive oil and 1 third balsamic vinegar and give it a shake – et voila! Your dressing is ready! The longer the herbs are floating in the oil, the more their flavours will infuse into the dressing, so it will only improve with time.

DIY homemade herb and balsamic oil dressing using herbs from the garden-2 DIY homemade herb and balsamic oil dressing using herbs from the garden-3


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How does your garden grow? Finished veggie patch

I now declare this veggie patch… open! It’s planted up with runner beans, peas, squash, cucumber, tomatoes, peppers, chillis, lettuce and herbs, plus a gooseberry bush and blackberry plant in the side border and fruit trees in the corner of the garden. At the moment it looks really neat and tidy – the way I’d like it to stay, but I’m sure it won’t be long before the place starts looking like a disused allotment. I’m already finding it difficult keeping the herbs alive – I’m pretty sure that I killed off that basil and coriander and it wasn’t anything to do with the fact that I’d planted a supermarket ‘living herbs’ pot in the garden. Oh well! I’ve sprinkled some basil seeds where the plant once lived and I’m hoping for the best…

Everything seems to be taking ages to grow. I know it’s not the fastest process, growing plants, but I expected the runner beans to at least have started trailing themselves up the canes by now! I keep wrapping their little tendrils around the canes to encourage them! The things that are growing well are the tomato plants in the greenhouse. They have already needed additional support from canes and I’ve remembered to water them (most of the time!) so they are growing upwards and outwards rather well. We’ve just added a couple of lines of peas that we bought from a plant seller at the car boot sale but they’ve just started flowering in pretty colours and looking suspiciously like sweat peas, oops!

Even though I might not be the best at growing plants just yet, I’m sure you’ll agree that the garden has come a long way from its bare grass beginnings (see my first garden blog post here). The new veggie patch has really added some interest to the garden and the patio has added some much-needed outdoor living space for summer!

 I still cant believe that Cassiefairy.com has made it onto the Cosmo Blog Awards 2014 shortlist for Best Lifestyle Blog! It would mean the world to me if you would vote for my blog before voting closes on 29th August – thank you SO much!


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How does your garden grow? Raised beds

Earlier in the week I shared photos of the paths we’d been digging around the veggie patch and told you how we intended to create raised beds around the remaining mounds of soil that we’d taken out of the path. I know this might not be the obvious way round to create raised beds but we finished off the paths and tucked the weed-proof membrane under the wood surrounding the beds so that we shouldn’t get any sneaky weeds creeping out of the veggie patch and into our gravel path.

I forgot to take any photos while we were constructing the frame of the raised beds – in fact, I was busy doing a lot of holding while hubby screwed the corners into place! After each of the two raised bed frames were completed, we dug over the existing earth inside the beds and mixed in a big bag of compost. As you can probably tell from the photos, we had completely finished the first bed before I got out the camera and posed for a photo to make it ‘look like’ I’d been digging – but I honestly had!! :) I’m planning to plant up the raised beds with courgettes and runner beans, and make the large planter beside the patio into a herb garden, so watch this space!


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How does your garden grow? Don’t fence me in…

No, actually do fence me in. That’s exactly what the next step is – adding a fence to the side of the garden. Even though it was great having some new-found privacy with the back fence, it looked a bit odd in the garden without any sides to the fence, so we started putting up a side fence to divide our garden from the neighbours. This time we weren’t lucky enough to find a used fence that we could ‘thrift’ so we had to actually buy it from new and start from scratch.

The plus side of this was that I could paint the fence planks before they were nailed to the supporting batons, which ensured that no gaps of unpainted wood appeared when the fence dried out (read my blog post about painting the back fence here) and I know for sure that the wood has been treated on all sides. Plus, our neighbour now has a nicely painted back of the fence to look at and we checked whether our colour choice was okay with them before we started! It took a couple of hours to paint all of the planks on both sizes and my cat Muffin decided to help out after the paint was dry!

So after a lot more painting and more mysterious painting-related leg aches, we put the newly-painted fence up and nailed it along the slightly sloped edge of the garden. I don’t mind the angle at all, not least because following the slope meant that we didn’t need to dig it out order to get a straight top to the fence! Anything that saves on digging is fine with me, especially because I know we’ve got a lot of digging to come when we put in our veggie patch! Even our nephew helped out with the construction work..!

We now have a completely enclosed corner of the garden and can start work on the veggie patch within this area. At the moment we are leaving the left-hand side of the garden un-fenced, because we are planning to bring shed panels into the garden that way. We can put up the rest of the fence after we have installed everything else!


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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!

Garden makeover - new fence -1

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? :)