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Frugally Unique
by Blythe Elspeth

The frugal lifestyle is not something that most people aspire to out of choice but out of necessity. I, on the other hand, discovered the joy of the five dollar dresser or the fifty cent cookie jar long ago simply out of love.

Being resourceful and watchful for bargains and cast-asides is rather exciting and intriguing for me, not because antiquing is in style or flea markets are suddenly "in", but because I truly acknowledge the sheer power, beauty and uniqueness of second-hand treasures.

There's a coziness to the much-loved and timeworn. It's as if I can relive those laundry days on the rocks by the lake just by touching those linens that most people now have no use for or sell for a quarter at a yard sale. It's amazing what I have bought for mere pennies that people comment on or covet; yet, these same people would never think of buying anything "used" - as if "used" is some horrible degrading word.

Somehow, people have lost what it means to be unique. Different. Eccentric. They've lost themselves amidst the piles of decorating magazines on the floor. What's "in" goes up and suddenly comes down without a thought once the style changes. And if those doilies that aunt Bertha painstakingly crocheted fifty years ago don't match the décor, they're outta here! That's where I step in. I love those odd dishes, mismatched dressers and lavender doilies. They're full of character and filled with memories. They may be inexpensive, but they're loved and they're useful. The workmanship is beautiful too. They speak of an age where care and thought were put into almost everything and even the smallest scrap of material was put to use and not tossed aside into the scrap heap. Oh, sure they're "used", but they're far from horrible. They're not expensive, but if being expensive means being "better", well all I can say is that I've seen some pretty horrible expensive things out there!

I suppose the saying "to each his own" is appropriate here. Some people just don't approve of my second-hand taste or my slipcovered chairs. They'd much rather buy everything new and colour-coordinated. And that's okay. For them. I rather enjoy wondering who owned that slightly worn ottoman or what kind of exotic tea graced the old shelf I picked up for a dollar at the thrift store. Goodness knows I don't' have to worry about anyone else ever having the same furniture as me or the same china. And I don't scream at the kids if they get chocolate ice-cream on my couch (I just wash the slipcovers!). I suppose my priorities are just different. Breaking a teacup is not an issue since nothing matches anyway, and my house is always colourful since I don't have a written-in-stone colour scheme. People seem comfortable in my home knowing that they can put their feet up if they're tired and sip hot chocolate from a different, interesting cup each time they visit.

The power and allure of second-hand articles is a thrill and a comfort. Being frugal doesn't mean not being able to surround yourself with beauty as well as function. Second-hand IS beautiful as well as functional and affordable. I'm saving the environment, since who knows where half the mismatched and tossed-asides in this world would end up if someone like me didn't see their inherent beauty. A landfill? Perhaps. A gutter? That, too. At least my house and my surroundings are teeming with rich, vibrant memories and colourful eccentricities. The décor is not out of a magazine, and I'm sure some interior designers out there would have coronaries if they stepped into my living room, but it's unique, it's within my means, and ultimately, it's home.

Call me a cheapskate, a penny-pincher or just plain cheap. Some of my friends call me "the woman who rescues memories". I kinda like that.



Blythe is a full time wife and mother of two little girls, but she manages to find time for ghost research, tarot, Feng Shui, Wicca, and writing and illustrating articles on a variety of subjects, such as New Age Parenting and Frugal Living for both on-line and hardcover publications. She also has a great sense of humour - which is honed daily as she juggles her many obligations and interests. She has been contributing to ArcanaMatrix since its inception. You can read more of Blythe's articles, Expert Advice and Spiritual Advice at
Email Blythe at




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