Angelicscalliwags Challenge: 2012 Summing Up

I promise this is my last post pertaining to 2013!  Next week I will be moving full pelt into 2014 with goals, pond studies and lots of history related posts as well catching up on what the little ones have been doing in Mr Men school.  For now though, I wanted to sum up how we did on our challenge to pay off our mortgage by the end of 2017.

Well, we’re still at it, which is brilliant.  Even if I fail, I want to know that I have tried my hardest and failed rather than failing because I gave up.  Due to the fact we spent the first half of the year squirreling anything and everything away we are currently well on track to meeting our five-year goal.  The second half saw a real slow down in what we were paying off and I see that continuing into 2014.  Our aim is to finish 2014 with 40% paid off (this is what we need if we are to pay our mortgage off in full by the end of 2017), but that looks almost impossible to me at the moment!  In December we paid off another 1% bringing the total to 24%.  This means we only have 76% to pay off.  The picture below represents what we have paid off on our mortgage, not the percentage of house we own (which would be more):


This year we are also inching our way towards our desire to live more simply and self-sufficiently.  I say inching because with us change is always slow and at times almost imperceptible, but it is there.  I may do a monthly post on the changes we are making, if for no other reason than to have it all written down, recipes and all, for my daughters to refer to when they are older.

At the beginning of last year I wanted my house to be clutter free by this Christmas, and whilst it is not there yet, we have made huge headways.  We live in a very old cottage with no loft, garage or indeed any room for storage.  I have always saved the older ones school bits and pieces to use with the younger ones but this has become unsustainable due to the lack of storage space.  Over the past year we have taken bags and bags of clothing, toys and home school stuff to our local charity shop and have received over £70 to spend in their shop.  This year I intend to finish the job and hopefully by Easter it will be done.

Our chickens are currently giving us 3 eggs a day and I have to say are really worth having.  We have extended their run and could, at a later date, have a few more.  We compost their manure and then use it on our beds.  Truly win-win.  We will be looking into cutting down the day-to-day costs of the chickens over the next year.



T11’s herb garden continues to produce over the winter and he has created the most amazing plans for this coming year.  More on that over the spring, but our aim is to increase our harvest of particular crops to negate the need to buy them at the shop.  T11 has it all in hand!

T11's herb 'patch'

I’ve been trying out some home-made product recipes this year, and to be honest haven’t been too impressed by my endeavours.  However, I started to play about and tweak the things that weren’t working and I have made a fabulous washing up liquid (my own recipe), made of liquid soap, bicarb, washing soda and tea tree oil.  It is thick, doesn’t leave yucky water scum and is pleasant to use:


I’ll post the recipe sometime in the next few weeks.  It only saves pennies on the Ecover one I currently use (the only one we all seem not to be sensitive to) so I’m not sure if it’s worth the work, to be honest, if saving money is my goal.  I think it is time for me to rethink the reasons for doing this.  I LOVE the process of making my own products, it soothes something deep within me.  This maybe should be enough, without the need for copious savings to be made.  I love the idea of using organic, environmentally friendly ingredients.  And I love, love, love that I am creating my own combination of fragrances to use in the products (I took aromatherapy and massage diplomas when I was nursing).  This may well become a hobby rather than a money-saving activity, and you know? I’m okay with that…I could do with a hobby!

Another thing I have enjoyed getting into has been my grinding.  Gary bought me a grinder for my birthday a couple of years ago, but until recently I hadn’t had the time to use it with any regularity:


Over the past couple of months I decided I would stop buying any kind of breakfast cereal or bread and force myself to use my grinder and roll oats and grind wheat.  I get buckets of both oats and wheat berries from a local farm and have been reliably rolling my own oats for a while now.  I wish the same could be said for the wheat and bread making…  I do it but not enough and out of sheer laziness have been known to send T11 down to the shops to buy a loaf of yucky white (the only sort they sell).  So this year, I am going to make myself grind, mix and knead (or at least I will make my Kitchen Aid do the mixing and kneading – see laziness again!) and everyday I intend to produce a wonderful loaf of home-made whole wheat bread.


I love the feeling of a new year!  I don’t really make new year resolutions, more set myself goals to reach throughout the year.  We’ve done well in 2013!  And this year seems full of wonderful promise, filled to the brim with simple yet comforting activities.  We are all so looking forward to it all!


  1. I’m very interested to hear your thoughts on keeping chickens as a backyard project, rather than on a small holding. We too are thinking about the possibilities and will be looking forward to seeing how you reduce their costs. Could you share how much you spend at the moment, perhaps weekly?
    Thanks Claire, as always, for sharing

    1. Probably less than £2 on food, and then straw each week when we change them, as well as anti mite dust. I would say they probably pay for themselves in eggs and then some.

  2. Excellent! It seems to me that you are doing well. I got a kitchen aid for Christmas and it is my new best friend. It makes bread so much easier and there is nothing lazy about using it for kneading. We are plenty busy, friend.
    blessings, Dawn

  3. I think this is such a good goal, and even if you don’t manage it, you will still have paid much more off your mortgage than you would have if you hadn’t started this project. 24% in one year is great!

  4. I enjoy reading what you are doing. I have started a small panic as we look at houses and realize that the houses are smaller than we have been living in. I have stopped buying cereal this year. We eat oatmeal, eggs, or Dutch pancake. I would love to grind my own flour.

  5. We have thought about having animals and veg garden, and all that, but we’re not living in a neighbourhood where the sounds of chicken is welcomed, but that plan has been shelved. I think you’re doing really well with your plans, and I shall be very interested to read more about it. Self-sufficiency is indeed a very worthy goal to work towards. I would love to be able to do that at some point.

    I also completely understand what you mean about the cost of handmade items versus buying them commercially. Mass production has certainly turned the economics of handmaking activities into seemingly uneconomical pursuits because the homemaking costs seem so high. However, the skills and interest/hobby that one gains along the way is irreplaceable, so keep doing what you’re doing. I’d be very interested in your home-made recipes for cleaning products, and other expertise you feel inclined to share! 🙂

    1. Interestingly, if you only get girls they make little to no noise at all. If a fox or danger was near you would hear them, but general day to day they are very quiet. My cats make more noise!
      Oooh, I’m so pleased someone other than my children will read my recipe posts! Thanks so much Hwee for all your encouragement.

  6. Congratulations for doing so well on your house pay-off. It, too, would be interested in your recipes. We make our own laundry detergent, until I get tired and go buy it at the store. Hmmf.
    We are going to have an old-fashioned Christmas next year. We are going to make gifts through the year, buy a real tree, and make all the ornaments ourselves. I plan on leaving all our Christmas decorations in the boxes in the garage. I don’t know if anyone is really excited about that, except me, but we will see how it goes.
    I say bravo to T11 for his herb garden. He’s doing a fantastic job!
    Keep up the great work, Claire. You are inspiring:))

    1. That’s so interesting about Christmas because we are doing almost exactly the same thing. Perhaps we could share ideas throughout the year? We will still use everything we have but are determined to home make everything else, from presents to cards to the children’s pyjamas (I’m no seamstress, so heeellp!)

      1. As I think about it, sometimes I think I am jumping into a big hole! I would love to exchange ideas. I don’t do much sewing as far as clothing, except for skirts with elastic waistbands, so I am not sure I would be much help. I am determined to start making lists and getting everybody on track with what gifts they would like to make. I know if we don’t start early, we will never get done.

  7. You are doing a stand up job reducing your mortgage by 24%! I am duly impressed, and I hope you feel the pride you deserve in such an accomplishment!! I also want to properly scold you 🙂 no one should use the words “grinding my own flour” and “laziness” in the same sentence. Ever. 🙂 I do believe someone (in a later post) wrote something about simplifying this year… enjoy that Kitchen aid!

    1. LOL! I missed you!!
      Yeah, that whole simplifying thing? It’s just not as simple to simplify as I first thought! It seems everyone bar me likes complicated.
      He, he, laughing again, having reread your comment. If Gary were here (he’s asleep) he’d be applauding you right now!

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