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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Exercise for the mind – dreaming about my ideal home

Do you sometimes find your mind wandering off to a place far away where it settles down on a comfy sofa to take in the stunning coastal view from your seafront property? When I’m daydreaming about my dream home, that’s exactly where my brain takes me and sometimes I can even do a tour of my imaginary home in my mind without ever leaving my desk. Hours of fun, huh? Well I’ve decided that my dream home shouldn’t be confined to my mind any longer and that sharing it on the blog will reinforce what I’d like to achieve in life. So, as a little exercise in projection and ambition, I’m going to research the realities of my dream home to give me a firm focus for the future and maybe you can do the same too!

I’m not saying that I’m unhappy with where I live at the moment – it’s in an idyllic village, on a peaceful road and is well-located (we have a train station nearby and an A road linking to all the big towns nearby) but it’s a small house and is unlikely to grow much bigger over time! This is precisely why I needed to renovate a vintage caravan to create my workshop and office space and we’re currently working on the garden to turn it into another outside room. I’m sure that I wouldn’t need to expand into the garden in my dream home because in my mind it’s already big enough inside!

coastal seaside house inspiration moodboard

Perfect seaside homes via Pinterest

I watch regularly Escape To The County on BBC (mostly when the lovely Alistair Appleton is on!) and have no trouble choosing which of the half-a-million pound houses I’d like to live in, but realistically I wouldn’t be able to afford a mortgage on a stately pile or sprawling modern luxury pad! So I’m researching where I’d like to live, what it would look like and how much this would cost me. And I’m starting with location: it needs to be near the coast, preferably with a sea-view, but more realistically it would be in-land but no further than half an hours drive from the sea. I think I prefer this kind of coastal location because as a child I lived more centrally in the country and holidays were always at the seaside so I associate the coast with happy times and relaxation. I know I wouldn’t be on a lifelong holiday if I lived in a seaside town (and I know I’d probably get naffed off with summer tourists!) but I feel sure that I’d spend more time outdoors and live a slightly slower pace of life.

So that’s the location sorted, so what about the house itself? I’d love a barn conversion. In fact, any kind of home which features large open-plan spaces and vaulted ceilings. It’s the sense of space that I’d like to achieve which, after living in bungalows for most of my life, would be a luxury. I do like the Georgian features of pretty doll’s-house-esque town houses; high ceilings, picture rails, tall windows and shutters etc, but I think a large home with these kind of period features would be way beyond my price range. I used a mortgage calculator on the Principality Building Society website and was surprised that I would be able to get a decent mortgage that I could actually afford to pay back but it wouldn’t stretch to my Georgian mansion on the seafront so I’m going for a small barn that I’d like to be able to convert myself.

I’m in no hurry to move, so my dream would be to buy an old farm building with planning permission and turn it into the home of my dreams over the course of a few years. It would have a big brick fireplace, woodburning stove or an Aga with back-boiler and solar panels on the roof because I’d like to be self-sufficient in terms of electricity and heating, as well as having a large enough garden plot grown our own veggies and be self-sufficient in the traditional sense too – although how much digging I’d actually do is anyone’s guess! I’d love to have a sun-trap walled garden that the cats would enjoy lounging in, with a hammock and alfresco dining area, then a ‘secret’ kitchen garden beyond that.

dream home barn conversion inspiration moodboard

My dream home inspiration moodboard on Pinterest

The interior of the house would look just like all the perfectly-staged houses in Country Living magazine and I’d throw in a few of our favourite mid-century pieces of furniture to make it more like the kind of home we would live in. Of course the most important thing in any house is space for a Christmas tree, so the ceiling would need to be open to the eaves so that I can fit in a massive spruce and loads of fairy lights!

This little exercise has been fun (especially hunting out images in Pinterest!) and I hope you’ll give it a go too. It’s really helped me to visualise what I’d like my future home to be and I’m interested to discover that my dreams are fairly realistic and quite possibly achievable n a few years time, which has given me something to strive towards. Can you envisage your own dream home? What would you choose and why? Let me know if you make up your own dream home blog post and I’ll share your links!

In association with Principality Building Society


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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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How to create the illusion of space in your home

Whether you have a large or a small home, it’s likely that at some point, you’ll bemoan your property’s lack of space. The size of your home matters to some degree, but it’s what you choose to do with the space available that really makes a difference. If you’ve lived in your home for many years, you will have had the opportunity to amass plenty of possessions and pieces of furniture, and the more cluttered your home is, the smaller it will feel. There are plenty of ways to create the illusion of space in your home with minimal expense, so don’t hesitate to try out these simple tips.

create the illusion of space with fgc-2

Optical Illusions

Certain patterns and materials will fool the eye into seeing a room as larger than it really is. A striped floor will make any room seem much wider and it’s a good idea to opt for pale colours. Glass doors that open out onto a patio, the garden or an adjoining room are wonderful for opening up your home and making it seem lighter and more airy. Glass doors can be purchased from a variety of retailers including Frameless Glass Curtains. Try glass-topped tables to trick the eye into perceiving a larger amount of space in a room, and enhance the effect with a large mirror. You can place decorative mirrors in any room in the house, and they will always make the space appear larger.

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Pieday Friday recipes for bank holiday fun ~ it’s all about the barbecue!

Okay, I can’t fight it anymore. After almost a week of unbroken sunshine and with the bank holiday weekend and half-term fast approaching I can’t deny that barbecue season has well and truly arrived. We all knew it was only a matter of time before we started tidying up the patio and the shops knew it too: everywhere you look there are offers on charcoal at the garden centre, deals on melamine plates in department stores and 3 for 2 on sausages and burgers in the supermarkets. We will all be having a BBQ this weekend and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Actually, I don’t have a barbecue. So I’ve got two options: cook my meat in the oven and eat it outside or invest in a BBQ (hubby’s preferred plan). I’m thinking that any purchase of a BBQ at this time of year would be a sensible idea, because it would have a whole season’s use ahead of it, but the thrift-meister in me is telling me to wait until the end of the summer and buy a barbecue in the seasonal sales ready for next year. In fact, I think that’s exactly what happened last year – I just forgot to do the buying bit by the time the end of summer sales arrived. So I guess that means I’m going BBQ hunting this weekend then?? We have friends coming to stay over the bank holiday so it would be lovely to sit in the garden, enjoy a nice meal and soak up the sun (wearing high SPF, of course – read my blog post all about it here!).

great BBQ recipes for homemade burgers plus sticky barbecue ribs and chicken

Here are a few of my favourite BBQ recipes from the blog so please check them out if you’re having a barbecue this bank holiday weekend:

Never one to be underprepared, did my research yesterday into the type of barbecue I should buy and found an excellent buying guide on the John Lewis website which I’m going to share with you all. It basically helped me get a good idea of what I want to buy versus what I actually need to buy and therefore I think that using the guide has saved me money and stopped me (and hubby) from buying the biggest BBQ we’ve seen – which was practically an outdoor kitchen - because in reality, we won’t need it! So here are the top tips for buying a barbecue this summer:john lewis bbq ideas for summer 2014

If you’re cooking for up to 4 people you’ll need a smaller cooking area, and can comfortably cook on a grill of around 1800cm². Also, if you’re going for gas, you might only need one or two burners on the barbecue, which will save on the amount of gas used per meal, compared to some of the 6-burner models. Cooking for larger crowds of more than 8 people is when you’ll need one of the largest gas barbecues (the sort that hubby loves) but for our family we’ll probably only need a BBQ grill of between 2000cm² to 2500cm² which is plenty big enough to cook for 6 people at once. Of course, you can cater for more people during larger parties if you have features such as griddles and warming racks on the barbecue because you can store and keep warm the first batch of food, while cooking up more meaty meals.

In terms of gas v coal, gas barbecues can be cooked with after about 10 minutes, but a charcoal barbecue will take up to 30-45 minutes to become white-hot and reach a good temperature for cooking. It’s easy to regulate the temperate on a gas barbecue in the same way that you can turn gas hob burners up or down, but on a charcoal BBQ it will be a case of raising or lowering the grilling surface to control the temperature. Charcoal or briquettes might be a cheaper fuel option than gas but will require more cleaning after cooking as you not only have to clean the cooking surfaces, but also clear out the ash. And finally, charcoal barbecues tend to be cheaper than gas, so it depends on your budget and what kind of fuel you’d prefer to spend your money on throughout the season.

john lewis top tips for bbq food summer 2014

I’m really pleased that I came across this buying guide and I hope it has helped you too. The good news is that there are plenty more advice guides on the John Lewis website for summer, including tips for the barbecue chef, a video on cooking with gas barbecues, recipes and a good grilling guide. My final favourite piece of advice is that when your barbecue arrives, it’s a good idea to position it on a level surface away from combustibles such as plants and fencing, and in a sheltered position if windy. This will mean that accidents and the possibility of setting fire to the hedge will be less likely and, as with everything, it’s all about safety first! Have a lovely bank holiday :)


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How to design the perfect kitchen

If your kitchen could do with an overhaul, now is a great time to start planning your brand new design. As I mentioned in my home inspirations post last week, I have been planning a kitchen makeover for some time but have never quite got any further than painting a few tester-pot swatches of colour on the walls! There are so many different styles of kitchen to choose from that this task may seem a little daunting at first. However, this guide will show you how to ace the design process and get the kitchen that really works for you and your family – then I’n actually going to have to get started on mine!

Getting Started

Look at your existing kitchen and make a list of what you like and dislike about it. Once you’ve identified what works and what doesn’t, you’ll be better prepared to design something that suits your needs. Think about who will be using your kitchen on a daily basis and the tasks that will be undertaken there. If you cook every day or do a lot of entertaining, your specifications should reflect this. Those with young children should consider their safety and comfort when it comes to the design process. You’ll need space for children to complete their homework, perhaps in the form of a breakfast bar. Those who cook often will need plenty of worktop space. Think about the existing restrictions on your design, including beams, supporting pillars and chimney breasts. Consider whether you want your kitchen equipment and foodstuffs to be displayed or kept being closed cupboard doors.

blue retro vintage Kitchen design

Love the blue accents in this kitchen design

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