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Friday, 27 April 2012

On why a Kindle inspired me to start reading

As a child I was an avid reader from Reception Class up until I was 19, my repertoire consisted of Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl, Goosebumps, Beatrix Potter, Jack London, Dick King Smith along with Janet and Allan Ahlberg. I read everything and anything I could get my hands on. From the age of ten my reading habits changed drastically when I discovered Stephen King's "IT" a massive book for a ten year old to read and I think it took my 3 or four months to complete. I remember feeling unimpressed with the book because the film had terrified me so much I slept with the light on for week. Nevertheless, IT encouraged me to explore Stephen King novels and my parents and their friends lent me copies of his novels. I read Point Horror of which I remember my favourite being the Vampire's Love series.

In my teens my tastes in books stayed somewhat the same. I remember having a deep hatred for classic novels such as Charles Dickens (which I still loathe) because reading them in school had utterly ruined them and taken away their magic. I branched out to autobiographical's in particular Dave Pelzer which I found the overwhelming sympathy by the masses for Pelzer to be crass and pathetic. I think the mos enjoyable autobiographical novel during my teens were the Frank McCourt books "Angela's Ashes" and "Tis" perhaps because I love reading books that encompass the era in which my grandmother was a child, makes me feel close to her and makes her own struggles more real rather than now humourous stories. But mainly my tastes stayed in horror and folklore discovering Anne Rice at 17.

I'd spend my weekends perusing Waterstones and Occult shops looking for new things to try (in which I found Wicca and purchased my first books "Witchcraft - Theory and Practice by Ly De Angeles" and "A Witches Bible by Janet and Stuart Farrar" - which were grossly wrong choices).
By the time I was 22 I hadn't read a book for pleasure in two years. It was an absolute tragedy. I was devastated that I'd turned my back on one of life's greatest pleasures. I just didn't make the time for reading anymore and I placed blame on working and working towards a degree.

For my first wedding anniversary Mr Frugal Witch bought me a copy of the Time Traveller's Wife because at the time I was so high on my role as a new wife that I actively sought wife related things (articles, TV programmes, etc) just to heighten my feelings. The Time Traveller's Wife really captured me. I laughed, I cried, I felt sorry for Clare Abshire.... And the book really stirred my desire to read again. But, life kinda got in the way again and money was always spent elsewhere leaving my reading time was designated to the Internet and I was fine with that because I was still reading. It wasn't like I flat out refused to read.

When the Kindle 2 adverts aired. I scoffed at it. "IT WILL NEVER REPLACE THE FEEL AND SMELL OF A NEW BOOK" "WHAT HAPPENS IF IT BREAKS? ALL YOUR BOOKS ARE GONE AND YOU WILL BE STUCK AND YOU WILL BE ANGRY RAWR". Looking back, these statements can be applied to film vs digital photography of which I believe there is a place for both (I own and regularly use both formats).

One Dreary April weekend in 2011, Mr Frugal Witch arrived home from a day of shopping in Exeter.
 "I have a present for you, and you're going to hate it" Said he, heavy hearted handing me a shopping bag. I opened it and there inside the bag was a box marked Amazon.co.uk. Mr Frugal Witch states that the look I gave him in that moment was as if he'd given me a bag of snails (FYI Snails make me wretch and feel disgust can't even dine in French Restaurants).
 "You can take this right back! I DO NOT WANT!" I wailed like a banshee.
Mr Frugal Witch, clearly loving my over reaction to the situation pushed further
"It was a free gift with my phone contract, I don't want it and I thought you'd appreciate it" unable to stifle his laughter "If you don't want it, just put it on eBay and buy some clothes or make up".

Before I could stop myself, I'd set up a Kindle Account and downloaded public domain books for free.

"This Kindle store is shit! All the eBooks are the price of hardbacks some are even dearer!"
"Put it on eBay, my darling waifu"

Many weeks later and the Kindle still wasn't listed on eBay, I'd read the Iliad, re-read Othello, enjoyed Austen and loved the Bronte sisters but I wanted more recent books. So I went on Amazon.co.uk and had a heart attack. £16 for a bestseller in eBook form. Are you mad?! Are you crazy, Amazon?

 Do you know what I did? I went to the Piratebay.org and downloaded 2,000 books which included Charles Bukowski, Max Brooks, Charlaine Harris, Naomi Kramer, H.P. Lovecraft, Alfred Hitchcock, Alan Ball, Sophie Kinsella, Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, and a HOARD of paranormal novels, erotica (which is my current favourite genre and NOBODY would ever guess!), Neil Gaiman and Philip. K Dick which I am LOVING "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep".

Okay, so downloading eBooks is an ethical and moral issue, Authors suffer financial losses, the literary world collapses like the music world. But, a lot of authors are putting their books online for free ust to get an audience plus, paper readers VASTLY OUTWEIGH eBook readers and in all honesty why should we be forced to pay £16 for an eBook? It's robbery and benefits nobody but Amazon.co.uk.

In the past year, I've read 100 books. I am reading at every opportunity. I'm halfway through "Claiming Beauty" by Ann Rice and you know what? I am absolutely thankful to the Kindle in relighting my desire to read (see what I did there?). AND, if there is a book I need such as an Occult Book or a book by a favourite author, I will ALWAYS buy it because I like to support authors who broaden my knowledge. It's a win-win situation


Friday, 20 April 2012

One More Medicated Peaceful Moment - Our Second Month Into Our Project

Lay your head down child
I won't let the boogeyman come
Counting bodies like sheep
To the Rhythm of the war drums.


As a huge fan of A Perfect Circle, I thought it would be completely appropriate to buy this painting, I hate blue. I hate blue a lot, but the shades of blue in this compliment the purples in my living room, plus, it reminds me of summer evenings in the dreary Devonshire winters. I'm a One Of A Kind girl with a love for OOAK pieces so I was delighted to purchase this piece, a guarantee that no other APC fan would have. GO ME!

Unfortunately, It was bent and the canvas was very frayed in the corners. I'm not sure if this was mishandled in transit or just hadn't held up well since it's creation way back in 2004. I simply couldn't tack it to my wall and I also didn't notify the seller because despite the damage (You can see the fray in the below pic under the 's' and top right), I really liked it and to return the item and get a refund wouldn't have solved anything.. So, I went to Wilkinson's (my favourite budget home decor store) and found a frame to stop further damage

 Now, Etsyer's tend to think outside the standard framing size so I improvised and used black card to disguise the mismatch and it looks pretty damn gorgeous and protected. The order totalled to £34 incl p&p which I think, given that this is a OOAK painting, is a completely reasonable price


 The artist says:

Original artwork by Chandra Leming, 2004.
Gouache on paperboard.
Measures 14.5" x 10.5" and is ready for framing, or can be hung directly on the wall, poster style.

This work is from a concert poster style project and is based on my memories and experience from A Perfect Circle's "Thirteenth Step" tour.
This is an original, one of a kind painting- there are no copies or prints available!!
This work is signed on the front with my printer's chop, as well as signed, dated, and titled on the back.

Please read my shop policies before purchasing.
Thanks for looking!
<3ChandarChandar

Have any questions? Contact the shop owner. 

The previous month, I had shown you guys some beautiful cushions I had bought from My Vicious Boutique. I ABSOLUTELY ADORE THIS GIRLS WORK. Seriously. So I bought 3 more cushions from her. I bought two more Gothic Tree cushions AND! I bought this gorgeous Bat cushion from her in a custom listing. 




















Sorry for the image, the pillows were due for a wash and an iron and I couldn't wait to put a photo up!

I want to buy more from Vicious Boutique but she doesn't usually list items. I convo'd her and she happily obliged with my request for the three extra pillows. I'd love to convo her again and ask for more pillows but, I feel rude especially as nothing is listed in her shop at the moment. Order total came to £29 including p&p

Total spent in July 2011 £63
Total left £369

Thoughts - In the past two months I feel we have made too many extravagant purchases. I was distracted by so many beautiful, unusual handmade things that I now need to make a serious effort to buy wall art on a frugalist budget. I have spent a good couple of months planning this whole project and while it seems like I'm going to run out of funds fast at this rate, I decided it would be better if I bought the extravagant pieces first. We are both extremely confident that we can decorate our house for £500.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

When renting pulls the rug under your feet - literally!

I am not ashamed to admit we rent. It used to be seen as dead money but not anymore especially in the current economical climate. Mr Frugal Witch and I have already been victims of the economy twice in the past five years a mortgage just isn't worth the risk.

Equally, renting comes with it's own set of issues, unscrupulous landlords, rent that goes up every year but the BIGGEST issue is one that we are currently facing... We've been renting the cottage off an opera singer for the past two years. Very nice lady, had no problems whatsoever.

So, imagine the shock and horror that consumed me when I collected my post yesterday and there waiting for me was... An eviction notice *Dun* *Dun*  *Dun*!!!

"DEAR MR AND MRS FRUGAL WITCH

RE: YOUR HOUSE, YOUR STREET, DEVON

It is with regret that we are serving you with two months notice from the 19th April.. The owner's personal situation has suddenly changed meaning she now requires the house back. Blah blah, blah, blah blah.

Love and kisses*,
Your estate agent"

*No actual love and kisses, more like GET OWT OFF YOUR HAUS NOW (if Arnold Schwarzenegger actually served us the papers).

My first and foremost reaction to anything bad happen is to either assume it's cancer or death or both. Seeing as a house obviously can't get cancer, I curled up into a ball and cried with thoughts of impending doom and despair and planning a layout of my new cardboard box home. Were we bad tenants? Absolutely not! Our landlady got evicted from her home so she needs her house back. I'm sad that she got evicted because she seemed to love her life as a big time singer, but I'm glad to hear that this eviction isn't our fault and that she and the estate agents will provide us with sound references.

While I was curled up in a ball weeping into my cats face, Mr Frugal Witch put on his white knight armour, brought me a fennel tea, offered a few "there, there's" and went out to speak to several of our landlord friends... None of whom had any houses going.



WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU'VE BEEN FACED WITH EVICTION

Well what do ya do? Do you stick your head in the sand and pray that a house comes your way? No! Because that will never work. Every day is now a race against the clock, a race to find somewhere to live asap.

First of all, if you're already with an estate agent get them to send you properties as close to your current property as you can on the day you've found out you're getting evicted and make viewing appointments even if you don't like the houses. Since finding out we're getting evicted we've already had one viewing which we we were all set to put a deposit on, but someone beat us to it the day before the eviction notice which left us feeling depressed but not to worry, the house was filthy and the vomit green carpets wouldn't compliment my gorgeous cream rug, not to mention the kitchen had one worksurface which held two plates and nothing more.

Keep optimistic

I can't stress this enough. It's a kick in the teeth for sure when you don't get a house. I honestly thought, with the way things had gone yesterday, we'd be inbetween homes by now. Don't get a house? Focus on all the things you hated about that house and why it isn't suitable.

View, view view

You're not exactly in a position to pick and choose, especially if the eviction wasn't expected. But, the sooner you start to view, the sooner you can get a sense of what's available in your price range and room to hold out for a better property. On the day after being served an eviction, we've got 3 viewings lined up on Monday. Two of which we really are not thrilled upon. One is storage heated and because I am a cold blooded little thing I'd be freezing and, as I work from home, I don't want to spend 6 months in a freezing home AND a freezing office. The other place is a flat above a hairdressers. *Deep sigh*  But, we are also viewing another cottage on Monday, which seems more appropriate for a young married couple with a couple of kitties.

Keep work in the know about your situation

Don't suffer in silence. Let your boss know your situation, they may offer a few compassionate leave hours here and there to view properties.

Get in touch with your local housing authority

When eviction is sudden, it can be difficult if not impossible to have a month's rent in advance along with a deposit. Now is the time to act. Local councils and housing authorities can often provide bond money to people who are facing homelessness and even find temporary accomodation. As an ex employee of the Citizen's Advice Bureau, it can be worthwhile to visit them as they can also help find temporary accomodation and even bond money. But, if the CAB is as swamped with cases like they were when I worked there, it could potentially take 3 months for them to see you.

Remember, it's a temporary solution to a temporary problem

Even if you have to live in a flat with one bedroom, even if you have to move away from the area. it's temporary you can always move back when a better house presents its self.

Cry, giggle and eat pizza in bed with your husband/wife/girlfriend/cat

Because it helps!

And lastly...

Think of the potential that you can help your new house reach with Etsy.com!


*I'll be back at some pont this week to resume my etsy picks, I'm just too sad right now. But I will post pictures of what we managed to complete in this house.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

We Love Skulls and Night Time - our first month as Etsyers

I really do. I love Dragon skulls even more, I picked up this at a carboot sale for £6 because I couldn't find a nice one on the internet. They were all kinda tacky and cheap looking Except this dude. Bought on impulse, the original owner hadn't even taken it out of the box!




It resides on my fireplace normally! But there are things our mantlepiece we can't allow you to see... Yet.

What goes with dragon skulls and doesn't leave mug rings? Human Skull coasters!!!





From the seller:


"These coasters are made using hand-cut travertine stone tiles, 4" square 1/3" thick, and natural cork feet

Fact: The Colosseum in Rome is made almost entirely of travertine!

Full color Images are integrated to the stone surface using a multi-step process that I have perfected. I take great care, use the best products available, and spend the time needed, to ensure the most beautiful, highest quality stone coasters available.

The end result is a sharp, colorful image combined with the natural qualities, unique to each stone remaining unchanged.

Each stone tile is sealed on all sides, with several additional coats of a semi-matte protective sealant on the surface. The result is a smooth high quality finish that does not become tacky when wet.

Custom orders using YOUR OWN PHOTOS, design, logo, invitation, menu etc are welcomed. Please contact me for additional information.

Please convo me with any questions, requests or large orders

Have any questions? Contact the shop owner "

You can buy these from  http://www.etsy.com/shop/rbclarkson?ref=seller_info

Price in June 2011 was £16.11 (£25 incl p&p) but have since risen in price to £34 incl p&p. Fear not, this  was a luxury purchase.if you are looking for cheap cheap cheap stone coasters, you can get coasters in all sorts of materials for as little as £5 incl p&p such as this delightful set of fabric coasters from Giny's Gifts Etsy Store



With our Woodland themed living room, we decided we wanted to go a bit further than a woodland theme. We wanted to create night and day in true fashion following sunrise and sunset. I found perfect night time pillows.


Seller says: Throw Pillow Cover ONLY

Handmade throw pillow cover made from 100% cotton Front, and cotton poly blend for back cover.

Measures: 16x16"
Envelope opening in the back for easy cleaning.

"Haunted Mansion" by Sanae for moda fabrics collection.

Custom Orders are available, please feel free to contact me for any questions you may have.

Pillow not included, but are available for $7 each and shipping will be adjusted.

Regular Ground Shipping.

(1)

Have any questions? Contact the shop owner.

You can buy pillows from My Vicious Boutiqueat £8 each I bought two totalling £19 inc p&p

We love internet humour and we want our bathroom to point and laugh at us while we do our business. I know I said "do one room at a time!" but I had to buy this hand towel to creep our guests out.






















Seller says This black 25x15" hand towel is a perfect addition to a home or a bedroom. Inspired by the all-mighty ceiling cat, this adorable towel features a machine embroidered cat face and the text, "towel cat is watching you masturbate."

Have any questions? Contact the shop owner.

Bought from ShaeWow for £8.05 incl p&p

Total spent in June - £68 including bluebell wood print
Total left - £432

It started with a canvas that didn't belong on Etsy

It helps if you start off with an eye catching piece when you're working with a blank room. I picked up this canvas for £10 in Wilkinsons and everything fell into place (I'll post proper pictures of it in the living room big reveal as I could only find my 100mm lens.)
Dimensions are 24"x 84" roughly and it fits perfectly above my mantlepiece. We thought that we should base our living room around this piece so we found a theme of woodland/fantasy that could subtlely incorporate my religion as I am firmly in the "broom closet" irl (in real life) and have been for the past seven years. It's not that I'm scared, I just don't think my relationship with God and Goddess is anyone elses business. Anyway I am digressing.

Purple will be the key to the living room. Not everything has to be purple but purple should feature in almost everything...

But holy hell I want a dragon!

Budgeting, organisation and willpower.

Before you rush into frugal decorating come up with a figure you'd like to spend on your house. As it's frugal you don't want to spend in excess of £1000, that would be silly. We set a loose budget to decorate our whole house on £500. Now, we don't use credit cards, never have never will and we also don't make use of hire purchasing because Mr Frugal Witch and I have both been laid off twice during this long recession so we have little faith in long term financial commitments.

Because we don't use credit cards we gave ourselves a monthly decorating budget. You want to be realistic to your income, DON'T sacrifice things that you really need. Instead, focus on what you don't need. We thought long and hard and we decided that we could easily sacrifices nights out which totalled to about £35 each a month giving us a budget of a flexible £70 a month to decorate with. We also decided not to spend money on the house at Christmas and in the months March and May with which our disposable income greatly reduces making it impossible to do Christmas and birthdays as well as spend money on the house. Remember that this is YOUR budget so if you have only £10 to spend a month there is absolutely no shame in spending a few months saving up for a specific piece, but equally, spending £10 on Etsy wall art is incredibly doable.

Plan your decor around you.

We have six rooms in our house and we want each room to reflect our loves, passions and hobbies. Sit down and write a list of  these to see if any themes jump out at you. Our list comprised of:

Fairies, Goblins, Nature, Magick, Unicorns, Star Wars, Jurassic Park, Taxidermy, Portal 2, Nintendo, Legend of Zelda, Tim Burton, Gothic, Purple, Bram Stoker, A Perfect Circle, Xbox, Internet humour.

One room at a time is what you should aim for. Preferably, start off with the room you spend the most time in. It'll be tempting to rush out and buy loads of things for the sake of it but don't! You'll regret it. The beauty of monthly decorating is that you spend time really thinking "Do I want this?" and by the time you have your allowance for the month, you'll be able to answer that question without guilt.

Also, spend your allowance as a lump sum. This will discourage you from spending a little here and a little there on impulses. Spending as a lump sum enables you to keep track of how much you're really spending.
Don't feel guilty about having one or two luxury items in a room. By luxury I mean spending almost a whole months budget on one or even two items. If you truly believe that a piece belongs in your house that totals to or goes above your monthly budget, then but it. We have one or two luxury items that have totaled to our budget and we've saved up to purchase them. Often, Etsy sellers can and will reserve an item for you and many Etsyers will happily take a down payment on a piece you are afraid could be snapped up by somebody else.

I'll say this now but, it is wiser to buy rugs, throws and bedding outside of Etsy. Etsy is incredibly expensive for these and this, along with stuff we already own is why this is almost entirely Etsy stuff.

So without further ado, let's get on to show and tell


An introduction to our project

Mr Frugal Witch and I have been married for four and a half years in the six years that we have been together we've lived in places that our hearts weren't really into. Our tastes are somewhat "out there" and we've struggled to decorate our numerous homes in a style that we loved. When we got our first flat we went to B&Q and bought a deep red paint with plans to make our home delightfully gothic.

In our fledgling marriage we acquired a lot of mismatching furniture and our place sucked. We envisioned a gothic feel and we went out and bought a deep red paint. As soon as it was dry, we immediately regretted it. It was far too dark for a pokey little flat. And we left it. We eventually moved to another flat and didn't bother to decorate mainly because we couldn't be bothered to spend money on a flat in which we were never really there except to eat and sleep.

Fast forward two years and we are in our current home, a cute little cottage overlooking Dartmoor National Park.  We love our little home and we wanted to decorate it according to our tastes. But there was a problem a big one.

Mr Frugal Witch and I spent our Saturday's in search of pieces for our home with no success. The major flaw in our home improvement project was that stores carried 3 or 4 themes that everybody in our part of England had and we wanted pieces none of our friends had.

Mr Frugal Witch and I had drawn up plans for each room and googled around extensively looking for inspiration. We found nothing. We googled "Gothic living rooms" and got stuff like this:



Now, I'm not saying this is an ugly room, far from it. But it's red, as most gothic rooms are and red makes me depressed! I wanted a grown up Gothic look that wouldn't look like a dungeon and suited our house perfectly.  So we wondered around folornly for months in home improvement stores coming across generic stuff that makes a home look like an art gallery and in our Victorian cottage, cold art gallery style decor would not a marriage make. And then I found it, in Wilkinson's of  all places, a gorgeous canvas for £10!!
 
And that's when we decided to decorate as frugally as we could with one of a kind items or at least, items we wouldn't find in our friends houses. Okay, so I didn't get this from Etsy but it did give me an idea to have purple accented throughout the living room which made things a whole lot easier

I've been an Etsyer on and off since 2007 and way back then, Etsy was really a bazaar of crochet hats and gloves. I returned in 2010 with a photography shop and was pleasantly surprised by all the homewares on offer at a very reasonable price. What if we could decorate our home almost completely with pieces from Etsy.com on a budget? That's how our project came to be. As it's a month to month project, we'll be posting the items in individual blog posts followed by a blog post with before Etsy and After Etsy. 

We've been meaning to start our blog for sometime and now we are having a little bit of a decorating hiatus, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity. We'll also offer alternatives and how to guides when handicrafts are the cheapest solution for unique homes.