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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Book review: The Thoughtful Gardener by Jinny Blom + Win a copy!

I’ve been reading about gardening this month, and it’s all down to the newly released book The Thoughtful Gardener. If you too have an empty garden (or an overgrown one, for that matter) this book is the perfect starting point to get you into the garden this spring. It’s packed full of inspirational ideas and plenty of photos of gardens in bloom that’ll get you wanting to plant up your patch. Read on to find out more about the book and author, and to enter my giveaway to WIN a copy of this beautiful new release, worth £35!Award-winning designer, and gardening columnist for The Times, Jinny Blom has carefully curated this gorgeous book to bring together design ideas from gardens all around the country. The Thoughtful Gardener not only provides plenty of inspiration with stunning photos, it also offers practical advice on how to make your own perfectly-designed garden at home.

Image by Andrew Montgomery / The Thoughtful Gardener by Jinny Blom

But that doesn’t mean a manicured lawn with topiary trees, a well-designed garden can be full of over-grown shrubs, blousey blooms and messy edges. That’s the lovely thing about this book; it makes gardening accessible to those of us who don’t have the time to trim the edges of our grass with scissors! Some of the gardens in this book have been growing wildly for years, but Jinny shows us how the original design allows for the plants to grow freely while still providing a surprisingly neat and calming space.

Image by Charlie Hopkinson / The Thoughtful Gardener by Jinny Blom

Read more and enter my giveaway to win a copy of The Thoughtful Gardener below..!

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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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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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Books, books, books – What I got for Christmas & first impressions

I guess I was quite adamant when I said I only wanted books for Christmas, huh? Because that’s what I got – and piles of ’em! So you can imagine how thrilled I am to start the new year with a stack of books to read and plenty of reviews to bring you throughout 2017. I’m just about to finish reading Dave Gorman Versus The Rest of The World so I’m excited to dive straight into these new books. Here’s what I received and my first impressions:book review 2016 2017 books tim peake amy schumer caitlin moran gretchen rubin-3Caitlin Moran – Moranifesto

I’ve read most of Moran’s books and this one has been on my wishlist since it was published in March 2016. I didn’t buy it straight away though because I find hardbacks more cumbersome to read and I was waiting for the paperback version to come out. How long would I have to wait? While I was browsing a book store in Ely in November I found this signed first edition and pointed it out to hubby. Thankfully he took the hint and managed to snaffle it for me without me knowing! Can’t wait to get started on this one.book review 2016 2017 books tim peake amy schumer caitlin moran gretchen rubin-9Tim Peake – Hello, is this planet Earth?

As someone who followed Tim Peake’s mission religiously (and was giddy with excitement when I met him only a couple of days after he returned to the UK) you can imagine how excited I was to unwrap this book. It’s a chunky square book full of beautiful photographs taken by Tim during his time on the international space station. The cover is a shiny hardback (which I think looks a little bit cheap or unofficial) but when you open the pages, it’s full of stunning photos alongside Tim’s own words about the images and locations. I’d actually recommended this book to mum as a suitable present for my husband, but it was actually him who bought it for me. Good thing we didn’t all buy it for each other!book review 2016 2017 books tim peake amy schumer caitlin moran gretchen rubin-7

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Pieday Friday – Sweet Potato Pasta with Alfredo Sauce 

Today’s recipe is from the newly released book ‘Eat With Intention’ by Cassandra Bodzak. This is not just a recipe book,but it’s also a practical course in quieting your mind, fueling your body, loving yourself, and changing your life for the better. Alongside the recipes there’s reminders to take care of yourself, and little meditation suggestions for everyday calm. This sweet potato pasta dish is just one example of the healthy yet fulfilling recipes in the book, and it’s quickly becoming one of my go-to recipe books for dinner (and puddings too!). But don’t just take my word for it – you can win a copy of the book for yourself! Scroll down to enter the giveaway below.sweet-potato-pastaSometimes we get so fixed on an idea of something that we close ourselves off from the infinite amount of possibilities for how it could manifest in our lives. I encourage you to think about something you deeply desire right now and strip it down to its basic core, releasing all of its trappings. When we are clear about what we truly desire, we open the door to unexpected opportunities and keep our eyes open for them along the way. Expand your options and expect miracles. Talk about an unexpected way to get your cravings met! If you have been craving the warm, filling, creamy decadence of fettuccine Alfredo without the dairy and gluten, then this is the recipe for you.

Feeling It Meditation

Sit in easy pose with your hands over your heart, eyes closed, breathing in through your nose and out your mouth. Allow yourself to fill up from your heart radiating outward with the feelings of your desire fulfilled. Release any specific images that may come up and return to your heart and tune in to the feeling that is enveloping you around having what you truly desire. Sit in this feeling for the next 3 minutes. When time is up, take a deep breath in and silently say to yourself, “I release my attachment to what it looks like and I welcome in unexpected ways for it to manifest.” Exhale and relax.

Yield: 2 servings

Ingredients: 15-ounce (425 g) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed,15-ounce (425 g) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed, ½ cup (120 ml) unsweetened almond milk, 7 tablespoons (105 g) nutritional yeast, 3 tablespoons (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, 2 tablespoons (30 g) Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon (14 g) vegan butter, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) garlic powder, 1 tablespoon (15 ml) salt, plus extra to taste, ½ teaspoon ground turmeric, 2 tablespoons (30 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, 2 sweet potatoes, skinned and spiralized, Chopped walnuts, to garnish, Chopped parsley, to garnish

  1. To make the sauce, combine all the sauce ingredients in a food processor and pulse until thick and creamy. Season with salt to taste.
  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan and sauté the sweet potato “noodles” for
    5 minutes, until softened. Add the sauce to the saucepan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, until heated through. Garnish with the walnuts and parsley, and serve. (Alternatively, heat the sauce in a separate saucepan and ladle it over a plate of noodles.)

9781631062360Recipe and images extracted from Eat with Intention by Cassandra Bodzak, photography by Evi Abeler. Published by Race Point Publishing (£14.99). More information on the book can be found here.

And if you would like to win a copy of “Eat with Intention” please enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. There are plenty of ways you can earn entries into this giveaway, so best of luck!

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Giveaway open to UK residents only. Giveaway runs from 18th -30th November 2016. One winner will be chosen at random after this date and contacted via email.


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House of Plants book review

Today marks the release of a fantastic book for all you plant lovers out there. House of Plants by Caro Langton & Rose Ray has just landed on bookshelves all around the country and you can be one of the first people to get your hands on a copy – yes, I’m hosting a giveaway to WIN a brand new copy of this fantastic book for yourself, read on to find out how you can enter below!

As someone who is constantly pinning photos of lovely loft apartments with glorious displays of tropical plants and succulents, I can’t help but adore this book. The photography by Erika Raxworthy is gorgeous – totally Pinworthy, I’m sure you’ll agree. And the practical advice and plantcare tips make even me (who has killed every plant she’s ever owned!) believe that I could have a botanical paradise in my own home. Today I’m sharing an extract from the book about pruning plants and caring for cacti – I hope it helps!

PRUNING & CARE (Cacti & Other Succulents)

It’s always wise to handle a cacti or succulent with care, no matter how harmless or hardy they may look. You may do damage to them, and equally the most innocent-looking species can cause skin irritation and pricks. Waxy-leaved succulents, including certain species of echevaria, can be bruised if their leaves are handled. Cacti with very fine bristles such as the Opuntia or ‘Prickly Pear’ easily shed their spines and penetrate skin. When removing a spiky cactus from its pot, you may need a pair of thick gloves to protect your hands. Alternatively, scrunch up a few sheets of newspaper until thick enough to wrap around the spines without piercing your skin.

PRUNING

Cacti generally need little in the way of pruning, except after they have finished blooming. At this time, the dried flowers can be gently removed. Leafy succulents tend to shed their leaves quite regularly, and any older, withered leaves or flowers can simply be plucked off to improve the look of the plant. When pruning a leafy succulent, remember that any healthy stems or leaf cuttings removed by accident can be easily propagated rather than thrown away.

CLEANING

Inevitably, your indoor plants will gradually pick up dust on their surface, which can inhibit their growth. In the case of a particularly prickly cactus, you may see little bits of loose soil caught up in its spines when you get it home. There are two ways to best clean different succulents. For prickly desert cacti, the best method is to use a soft paintbrush to stroke away any dirt or dust. For forest cacti or other spineless succulents, you can gently clean them with a damp cloth or sponge, taking particular care with more delicate leaves and stems.

FEEDING

When grown indoors, succulents are likely to mature slowly, and therefore require little fertilisation to survive. However, if you would like to encourage a succulent to thrive and flower, we recommend using a diluted house plant fertiliser regularly from early spring to late summer, and never during winter months when it is in its rest period. Specific instructions for how often to feed different species can be found on each plant focus page in our ‘House of Plants’ chapter.

This advice section was extracted from House of Plants by Caro Langton & Rose Ray, photography by Erika Raxworthy, published by Frances Lincoln (£20). You can find the book online here. But here’s the great news – you can WIN a copy of this lovely book for yourself. You’ll be sent a brand new copy of this newly published book direct from the publishers so what are you waiting for? Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below to be in with a chance of winning this gorgeous book.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway open to UK residents only and runs from 5th November – 16th November 2016. Winner will be contacted via email and will need to provide a delivery address to receive the prize. Best of luck!


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Cruelty-free eyebrows + the Little Book of Cruelty-Free

I’ve always had trouble finding products to suit my eyebrows, cruelty-free or otherwise. In fact, I’ve never found a match before. The thing is that my eyebrows are SO blonde that any of the products designed for blonde eyebrows tend to be too warm. Yes, orange eyebrows have been my destiny for many years and for that reason I’ve never used any products on my eyebrows before. So why would I start now?cruelty-free-eyebrow-cosmetics-products-makeup-review-animal-testing-mua-freedomcruelty-free-eyebrow-cosmetics-products-makeup-review-animal-testing-mua-freedom-12Well, the good news is that my cruelty-free journey has led me to some excellent budget make-up brands that I’d never tried before. And, interestingly enough, the eyebrow products they produce are considerably less orange than other blonde eyebrow products I’ve used in the past. I tried three different types of products before finding my ideal colour match so I thought I’d let you know how I got on with each of them.cruelty-free-eyebrow-cosmetics-products-makeup-review-animal-testing-mua-freedom-4Attempt number 1 was the MUA Brow Define brush-on brow colour. It’s like a mascara wand for eyebrows and I thought it could be a good two-in-one; taming hair and adding colour. It was exactly that, but for me it added a little bit too much colour. It picked up and coated the hairs rather than adding colour to my skin, so it looked much more natural than a pencil. But it was still a bit too dark for me. I can’t emphasise how very fair my eyebrow hairs are so it might be okay for you, and for blondes who want to go a little stronger on their eyebrows, it would be ideal. But as it was only £3 and I’d bought it on a 3-for-the-price-of-2 deal, I wasn’t worried about wasting money so I passed it on to my sister and moved on to this…cruelty-free-eyebrow-cosmetics-products-makeup-review-animal-testing-mua-freedom-3cruelty-free-eyebrow-cosmetics-products-makeup-review-animal-testing-mua-freedom-2The £1 MUA blonde eyebrow pencil. It’s much easier to control the pencil in terms of precision, so I could draw wispy lines to replicate hairs (so long as the pencil is super-sharp). Plus, there’s a brush on the end of the pencil to feather out the colour if needed. Still the tone of this blonde was too warm for my ashy pale eyebrows and made them a tiny bit darker than I would have liked. I suppose I’m still getting used to seeing my eyebrows after all these years so I felt it made me look a little surprised, although in reality it probably looked really natural. Even so, I wasn’t completely happy with the pencil so I tried a powder.cruelty-free-eyebrow-cosmetics-products-makeup-review-animal-testing-mua-freedom-5Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner! Continue reading “Cruelty-free eyebrows + the Little Book of Cruelty-Free” »


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Pieday Friday – Ultimate KFC (Korean Fried Chicken)

Today’s recipe is an extract from the fantastic new cookbook Korean Food Made Simple by Judy Joo. The traditional recipe for Yangnyum Chicken is the Korean version of good ol’ KFC so I thought it would be fun to share this recipe with you today while I’m away on my half-term holidays. What a fun ‘takeaway’ recipe to try out this weekend! Here’s Judy’s recipe:KMFS Ultimate KFC p167I have always loved fried chicken. But even though I grew up eating it in America, for me, ‘KFC’ stands for Korean fried chicken. There are many different versions, but what they all have in common is a very thin, hard crisp coating, which comes from using cornflour instead of flour, as well as double frying. My take on the dish, which includes vodka and matzo meal, is a little unorthodox and has a fair number of ingredients, but I call it ‘ultimate’ for a reason. Two things make it even better: its customary accompaniment of Cubed Pickled Radish and ice-cold beer.

Recipe serves 4

Coating: 30 g (1 oz) cornflour, 2½ tsp sea salt, ½ tsp baking powder, Freshly ground black pepper, 2 chicken drumsticks, 2 thighs and 4 wings (with tips), Vegetable oil, for frying

BBQ Sauce: 3 tbsp Korean chilli paste (gochujang), 3 tbsp ketchup, 2 tbsp dark brown sugar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil, 2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger, 2 cloves garlic, grated or finely chopped

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Book Review: Dream Decor by Will Taylor

It’s finally arrived! After months of waiting for the latest interior design book by Will Taylor to hit the shelves (and putting my name down for a copy really early) I was already too excited when the delivery finally dropped onto the doormat. Unwrapping the parcel felt like Christmas and, having avoided reading any other reviews or peeking at the pages, I had no idea what was inside. Cancel all my meetings – Dream Décor was finally in my hands and I was ready to read.dream decor will taylor interior design book review_-24 dream decor will taylor interior design book review_-12This book is the second publication by Will Taylor of interior design blog Bright Bazaar. I’ve been a fan for years and this inspirational site is one of the first places I go for new season design ideas and makeover projects. I loved the colour-packed pages of Will’s first book Bright Bazaar: Embracing Colour For Make-You-Smile Style so I was confident that I’d enjoy reading Dream Décor just as much. I snapped some photos before I’d even opened the book – I think you can tell from the photos just how keen I am to flick through it – and then I settled down for an afternoon of browsing through Will’s latest release.dream decor will taylor interior design book review_-25 dream decor will taylor interior design book review_-17I’d spotted a few news updates online about the launch of the book, which took place on 12th May at West Elm London on Tottenham Court Road, and I SO wish I was the type of blogger to get invited to these kind of events! I noticed a few of my blogging pals posting pre-release photos of the book on their Instagram and I wondered how they got hold of them. Jealous, or what?? Even so, I still managed to get my copy of book on the very day it was released. Dream Decor: Styling a Cool, Creative and Comfortable Home, Wherever You Live hit bookshelves all around the country on 17th May and I can’t believe it’s taken me nearly a week to write this little review for you. dream decor will taylor interior design book review_-26 dream decor will taylor interior design book review_-18So let’s start with the cover. It’s beautifully adorned with one of my favourite interior design trends of the year – watercolour stripes. It looks fabulously nautical and hints at the content to come; there are plenty of pages of coastal inspiration inside the book and it even kicks off with a photoshoot of Will’s own seaside-esque home office. With photography by Andrew Boyd and beautiful real-home locations from around the globe, you can tell that this book had a higher production budget than the first. I know that an interior design book should have lots of gorgeous photos but oh-my-goodness this book is bursting with hundreds – I might even say thousands – of beautifully styled décor photos. dream decor will taylor interior design book review_-19 dream decor will taylor interior design book review_-14

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Pieday Friday – ‘Broth’ & ‘Simply Ramen’ cookbook review

Two very similar, yet very different cookbooks. One eager food blogger. A whole weekend of reading, Post-Iting and note-taking. Equals today’s Pieday Friday blog post. Yes, I’m reviewing a couple of freshly published cookbooks, both focusing on the wetter side of cooking – Broth and Simply Ramen.broth and ramen cook book review pieday friday cooking recipe ideas-7I don’t know why, but it seems like the right time of year to be cooking up this kind of meal. The dishes in these cookbooks are much lighter than the stews and casseroles I’ve been slow-cooking all winter, yet they’re still warming meals that help you feel cosy on rainy April days as you cup your hands around a steaming bowl of soup. I’ve definitely been inspired to whip up a few bowls of something hot and wet over the past couple of weeks so I thought that the time is right to share these books with you all.broth and ramen cook book review pieday friday cooking recipe ideas-14 broth and ramen cook book review pieday friday cooking recipe ideas-10broth and ramen cook book review pieday friday cooking recipe ideas-17First up is BrothIt’s a very reassuring – almost old-fashioned – publication that shares the very basics of broth-making, and how to turn these stocks into delicious and filling soups, stews and main meals. Using simple methods and easily accessible fresh ingredients the authors Vicki Edgson and Heather Thomas whip batches of base broths, and share lots of ideas for different meals that can be created from one stock. Take, for example, the basic chicken broth; this can be turned into a classic chicken noodle soup, an Italian Stracciatella, a simmering risotto, Asian hot and sour soups, or even a chilled gazpacho. It makes all that boiling seem worthwhile when you can make so many dishes from that one base stock.broth and ramen cook book review pieday friday cooking recipe ideas-12 broth and ramen cook book review pieday friday cooking recipe ideas-8 broth and ramen cook book review pieday friday cooking recipe ideas-13 broth and ramen cook book review pieday friday cooking recipe ideas-9I’ve picked out some of my favourite recipes from this cookbook to share with you today so please feel free to download the PDFs for each recipe (kindly supplied by the publisher Jacqui Small) and try out the cookbook for yourself. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Broth is just a soup cookbook. There’s a whole chapter on stews, sautés and casseroles including pot roasts, side dishes, risottos, pasta meals and braised meats. Is was here that I found my favourite tagine recipe that I plan to slow-cook this weekend, so it’s a great source of inspiration for all types of meals.

PDF Recipe – Broth – Game Broth_

PDF Recipe – Broth – Aegean Fish Soup

gamebroth_26 gamebroth_39 gamebroth_89AgenianFiSp_08 Continue reading “Pieday Friday – ‘Broth’ & ‘Simply Ramen’ cookbook review” »

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