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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Pieday Friday – Using herbs in juicing + mojito juice recipe

I think you can probably guess from my recipe posts this year that I’m getting into juicing. I’d love to say that it’s because I’ve decided to live a more healthy lifestyle and want to reinvigorate my body, but that’s not really the reason. It’s as simple as ‘I don’t like fruit’. Sure, berries and dried fruits are fine with me; I’ll pop a handful on my soaked oats in the morning and get a little dose of goodness that way. But ‘proper’ fruits, y’know, the ones you have to chew (apples, pears, pineapple, peaches, oranges, plums etc) I just don’t like. I think it’s the texture that puts me off. I don’t mind the flavour of these fruits but I don’t like to eat them. Actually, that’s a bit of a lie. If you cook them, I’m quite happy. Apple pie? Yum! Stewed plums and custard? Yes please! ANY fruits in a crumble? Mmmm! But that’s not a healthy way to eat fruit, is it? With added sugar and a dollop of ice cream on the side, you can see why I enjoy cooked fruits so much. So my solution to get some much-needed vitamins into my body is juicing.

I’m happy to guzzle down juice all day long, but who knows what goes into the cartons you buy in the supermarket? I’d rather see the whole fruit go into the juicer and lovely fresh juice come out so that I know what I’m drinking, and I know that it’s good for me. I’ve been inspired by the #ExperienceFresh campaign and want to eat more raw and organic foods as a result.

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Pieday Friday Recipe – Moroccan mint tea infusion

Today’s blog post is all about fresh herbal tea, and I’ve shared a recipe for my all-time favourite tea below. I’ve been inspired to create this blog post for two reasons. Firstly I got a brand new teapot this week and I’ve been dying to try it out. It’s a fabulous retro design and I love the clashing colours – just right for my mid-century modern style home! And, secondly, because practically the only things that are still growing in my veggie patch are herbs. Yes, my herb garden is looking as bushy as ever and I’ve been thinking about different ways to use up these delicious leaves.healthy moroccan mint ginger lemon herb infusion tea recipe-2 healthy moroccan mint ginger lemon herb infusion tea recipe-11 healthy moroccan mint ginger lemon herb infusion tea recipe-13Mint is my favourite tea of choice. It’s so simple to grow mint and I have a huge pot in my herb garden, ready to steep in hot water at a moment’s notice. Even after a very harsh trimming back last month, the sturdy little mint plant is growing strong again so you can easily harvest plenty of mint for your tea, safe in the knowledge that it will always grow back soon!

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Pieday Friday recipe – Homemade pesto from our herb garden

I spent most of yesterday working in the garden. After a week away, followed by a week of poor weather (when I didn’t really fancy working outdoors) the veggie patch had started to look quite neglected. Weeds were sprouting, the runner beans were looking a little too long, and three courgettes had turned into marrows! When the bright sunshine finally burst through the clouds yesterday we decided to take the opportunity to get out into the garden and start tidying up our veggie patch. pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-9We began by pruning back the leafy branches of the tomato plants in the greenhouse (along with some rogue tomato bushes that had popped up in the herb border and the courgette bed) so that the last of the tomatoes could ripen in the September sun. A large bowlful were ready to pick, and it looks like more will be ready to harvest this weekend, so I’m thinking about ways of preserving them. I saw a recipe for smoked garlic tomato relish in the current issue of The Simple Things so I’d like to give that a go over the coming week – I think it would be a delicious accompaniment to my cheeseboard at Christmas.pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-2 pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-5After all the weeding, my eye settled upon the basil plant that I’d grown from seed as a ‘companion’ plant for the tomatoes in the greenhouse. I don’t know when it had become such a huge bush, but it now looked massive in comparison to the neatly trimmed tomato plants. It was even blooming into flower so Hubby and I started cutting it back to make space in the greenhouse so that more sunlight would reach the tomatoes. We ended up with a huge pile of basil prunings, and I was just saying to my husband that it would be a waste to throw it on compost heap when I remembered that one of my all-time favourite pasta dishes is made with basil. pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-3pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-4 Why didn’t I think of it before? Why had I gone a whole summer without blitzing up some basil? I love pesto. I’m one of those people who would actually eat it out of the jar with a spoon. It’s so obvious now, but I’d never considered it before. I planted the basil seeds so that I could throw a few fresh leaves into a Bolognese or layer them with mozzarella when using up my tomato harvest. At no point did I ever imagine that I’d make pesto, nor that I would grow such a huge plant that would provide enough basil to whizz up into a sauce. So I was pretty chuffed when this thought pinged into my mind yesterday and I set to work immediately.pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-6 pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-8I googled pesto recipes and each one I read suggested throwing a handful of this and a sprinkling that into the mix so I came to the conclusion that, as long as you have plenty of basil to start with, you’ll end up with something like pesto at the end, whatever you choose to add for taste. So here’s how I made it:pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-10 pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-13I plucked the best leaves from my massive bunch and washed them thoroughly before putting into a blender cup and pulsing for a few seconds. The basil whizzed down to practically nothing but blimey the smell was gorgeous! I threw in a couple of handfuls of lightly toasted pine nuts and the same amount of grated parmesan. I also added about a clove-and-a-half of garlic and whizzed the whole lot together.pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-12 pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-15The paste was pretty thick by now so I stirred in some extra virgin olive oil, bit by bit, until it turned into the consistency of pesto pastes that I’ve bought in the past. I added a splash of lemon juice and a crunch of salt and pepper to taste (tasting was the fun part, and I had to check it a few times to get it right, mmm!). When it looked right and tasted right I popped it into a jar and poured a little extra olive oil over the top to ‘seal’ it.pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-14 pieday friday diy homemade pesto basic recipe garden produce veggie patch meal dinner-17Of course I couldn’t wait long before trying it out, so last night’s dinner was spaghetti with a huge blob of pesto stirred in. Oh my goodness. It was divine. I’m not being overly smug, but it was better than any other jar of pesto I’d eaten before. I think it was the fact that it was so fresh that made it so zingy and flavoursome. I’m going to add little dollops of my pesto on top of our homemade pizzas this weekend and I can’t wait to eat it again! Honestly, have a go at making your own fresh pesto, you won’t regret it. And you don’t need to grow-your-own to do this; if a basil plant has been marked down in the supermarket, grab it and blitz it up for dinner!


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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. DIY raised herb garden veggie patch and patio-6 DIY raised herb garden veggie patch and patio-7 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… Growing squash plant Growing pea plantsEverything 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!

Before…                … and after!

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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