2013 is LOOMING LARGE!I can't believe how quickly time is marching on and that we're a mere four days from December 2012! Preparing for 2013 seems a bit 'pie in the sky', yet here we are... pies, shortbread, clootie dumplings and anything else you can think of begging to be baked or boiled!
Everyone's talking in Christmas-speak, Yule-speak and winter festivities-speak, so it's high time that I got to work on the new Frugaldom moneymaking challenge, before drifting off into fluffy-cloud-land to dream of Santa, roaring log fires, hot chocolate and marshmallows.
As most people know, a frugal lifestyle allows little in the budget for anything outside the cost of living, especially while trying to renovate an 1805 cottage that sucks every breath of warmth from you as soon as you walk in the door. 'Sausage dog' draught excluders, fleece curtain linings, winter woolies and extra quilts are all at the ready, having been rudely awakened from their summer slumbers. But that won't halt the ever-increasing cost of living. No way.
Beating inflation is about staying ahead of the game and, for those of us who are self-employed, that means one of two things... increasing the income or reducing the overheads. Well my overheads are as close to zero as I can possibly bring them without imposing hypothermia or malnutrition on anyone who ventures near, so that leaves income.
Frugal living means frugal working, so another new challenge has been launched for 2013. We've been doing these for years. Nobody has ever got rich yet, but they are such immense fun that it would be sad to stop trying now.
The premise is that you 'invest' a fixed amount, say £10, and then work towards growing your money to show profit. This year, I invested in some egg cartons and began selling frugal gourmet quail eggs. A fellow frugaler developed her skills in making jewellery items, while another bought fabric and sold cushion-sized squares.
Eco-art is about creating one thing from another using, wherever possibe, what would otherwise be treated as surplus to requirement.
With this in mind, I thought it would be rather fun to recap on some of the past challenges, products and ideas. For a start, it may tempt a few of you to consider joining our 2013 challenge
My garden logman bird feeder was built from off cuts left by the treefeller when a neighbour had a conifer felled in her garden last year.
'Cash cow', along with several other characters, was made from papier mache. We simply recycled old newspapers and turned them into banks - and all other forms of sealed pots - for yet another savings challenge.
The pebble and shell 'pets', as you can easily see, were made from pebbles and shells. (I think that was the 2005/6 challenge - we've been doing this for some time.) With investment made into tiny 'googly eyes', they, in turn, began finding their way onto everything! We sold some really, really crazy items via eBid.
Perhaps the days of larger free offcuts will return, but the recession is surely here to stay - nobody wants to part with free wood nowadays, not when it can go on a stove to help fend off the cold and boil a kettle for a cuppa. So, it's time to move on and attempt to make something from whatever people are finding themselves getting rid of to the bin man. Pity I can't recycle plastics. Hmm...
To hand, I have old clothing, household textiles and shredded paper! With this in mind, plus the fact that sis had the job of creating furry toys for tombola stall prizes, she gave me the idea of how I could adapt a previous project (1999, so few if any of you will remember it!) to bring it online and into production.
My 2013 Frugaleur Challenge is to make recycled furry friends, otherwise known as my clan of McGonks! The initial start-up capital will be invested in such things as website creation, felt, fur, ribbon, little pompoms, big googly eyes and any variety of sewing and replenishing the sewing box with toymaking related items. (I love homemade Christmas presents, don't you?) At the moment, I am unravelling an old jumper to free up some wool for knitting little scarves and crocheting mini-blankets, but I still need to source chunky knitting needles and a crochet hook - soon it will be gonks galore!
During a previous challenge - shell & pebble pets - I managed to grow my investment enough to invest in a lovely new glue gun, so that will help somewhere along the way. During the wood craze, I afforded to invest in a pyrography iron and I already have an office shredder, so that will help make the stuffing! Eco-arts, eco-gonks, eco-fun, who needs a Furby?!
I'm really excited about getting my new frugaleur project off the ground, having already invested in domain names for the new website and dusted down many of the files containing the photos and exploits of my previous character.
Not only will Clan McGonk exist, it will also have its own series of mini ebooks and a selection of collectable furry friends from which to choose. You'll can follow the stories online, take part and generally have some frugal fun. There's even a McGonks page ready to be developed on Facebook - how cool (and free) is that? Now that I come to think about it, perhaps I shouldn't have give away the sewing machine, afterall! I'm going to have to stitch up these furry little critturs by hand.
If you would like to take part in the 2013 challenge, check out the site at www.frugaleur.com and let's get making, baking, creating and crafting for the new year. It's frugal fun all round and we are always interested in trading with like-minded others.