The Angelicscalliwags Challenge: Week 5

My frugal (or at least potentially frugal) partners in crime
My frugal (or at least potentially frugal) partners in crime

One of last week’s goals was not to go shopping at all, bar our weekly grocery shop.  We did much better than usual and went only twice, but to be frank giving up popping to the shops was much harder than, say, giving up coffee.  This is on account of the snack factor.  Habits are hard to break, and this one feels momentous.  I think I was ready to give up coffee as I’ve found it fairly easy, but giving up night-time snacking?  This, we’re proving to be a bit rubbish at.  And there’s a reason (isn’t there always?).  Now this is a reason, not to be confused with an excuse.  Oh no, I don’t make excuses, only reasons.  And yes there is a huge difference (in terms of accountability).  Excuses assume the (albeit secret) fault lies within.  Reasons mean the responsibility belongs elsewhere.  Not one to particularly enjoy self-flagellation, I tend to veer towards the reasons rather than excuses.  All this to (in a rather long winded way) say  that yes we failed but it wasn’t our fault.

The reason we are failing to cease all snacks is clear: We see every night as a date night, a special time to spend snuggled up watching one of our dvds (we don’t have broadcastable telly) with a cup of tea and a snack.  And it feels good.  It feels good to be alone, to be together, to be relaxing and, yes, to be eating.  I like all those things and I particularly like them when they happen at the same time.  It will not work to give it up.  So we’re not going to.  And that is that!  We are however going to reduce the amount we snack on.  Our plan is to have half portions and eat them really slowly.  I feel a verse coming on about lamenting the loss of substantial snacking, but I’ll spare you and move swiftly on…

The challenge is on to pay off our mortgage in 2 1/2 years (mad goal) or in 5 years (sane goal).

For the rest of the posts in this series see here

How did we do this week?

Once more we were able to put £100 into our mortgage account but we have no pennies for the rest of the week other than planned spending.  No shopping this week for us.

I have to say that it is getting progressively harder each week to squirrel away this much, but faint hearted we are not.  We are determined, although ask us to give up snacks and the answer will always be no!  So not that determined then.

What have we been doing this week?

  • The main thing I did was to constantly ask myself if we really needed to buy something.  I used my enormous fortitude to make some rather suspicious soup from unrecognisable frozen veggies.  Gary showed his equally enormous fortitude by eating it.  I continued to make do in this manner until we ran out of milk and then used that as an excuse to buy everything in the shop.
  • With the computer down (I spilt a whole cup of tea over the key board) for a few days I took some time off and decluttered.  We filled a trailer full of stuff destined for the tip and the charity shops and earned ourselves a nifty £10 to spend in said charity shop (which we saved for future use).
  • I went through all our coats and shoes.  We gave away anything we didn’t use anymore or we couldn’t fit in the allotted space.  We live in what is essentially a large two bedroom house so space is always at a premium.  We started writing a list of clothing needs for the autumn/winter seasons and we intend to pray about these and keep our eyes open at the charity shops.
  • The older children and I had a talk.  Usually in September we buy them a new outfit to wear for church and other smart outings.  We won’t be doing that this year and I wanted to make sure they were okay with that.  They were fine with it, no complaining at all.  I love that our whole family are on board with this!
  • I spent no money on home school this week, putting it instead towards our mortgage payment
  • T11 picked our rhubarb and we boiled up some rather lovely rhubarb and ginger jam using ingredients I had on hand:
We made about 2 pints of jam, which is disappearing very quickly!
We made about 2 pints of jam, which is disappearing very quickly!
  • We were given some tickets for the circus next Thursday which the girls are going to with Gary on a special father/daughter treat.  Thanks Trudy!
  • I made three meals out of one chicken and announced to Gary that he was married to a very virtuous women!
  • We have once again added some flowers and herbs to our salads, all home-grown.

What have the children been doing this week?

  • T11 has planted enough lettuce to feed the 5000 and he paid for the seeds himself.  I love his can-do attitude!  He continues to tend to  his increasing herb and fruit garden.
  • He has also crushed up his now dried herbs and has stored them in some miniature bottles he asked my mum to save for him
  • He has now officially turned his science cove into an herbal workshop to mix all the herbal potions and powders he is making.  I am pleased to report I no longer have dodgy looking liquids sitting on my kitchen window sill.
  • L10 has been putting her flowers to good use to help a grieving neighbour by taking a beautiful bunch of homegrown flowers to help make her smile, along with a home-made card offering to make some dinners for her if she would like.  C10 added a story she wrote to show she was also thinking of her.  Yes, I was very proud and a little teary.
L10 with her gift
L10 with her gift
  • She also found some lettuce which had self seeded from last year in her flower patch.  It is quite a bitter salad but really lovely added to the basic salad leaf.  With that, T11’s flower petals and herb leaves our salads are delicious at the moment.  Each week we are adding something else from the garden and it is good to see and taste.
  • Our apple tree, which we planted last year, has many tiny apples growing, whilst our very mature apple tree is not as productive this year.  We are used to this.  It tends to produce prolifically every other year.  Last year the children picked and processed all the apples and we froze them.  These we have been enjoying over the winter and are now down to our last bag.
  • L10 has also taken a leaf out of her brother’s book and is currently drying some of our beautiful roses on his string.
  • C10 is in hen heaven and I have to say the rest of the family are with her!  Hens are so cool. Seriously.  They make the most peaceful noise, are eager to please and really friendly.  The children have one each and have named them Omelette, Nugget and Emma(!) (Emma was our baby sitter who the children just adore).  We let them free range today and they were so cute!  C10 has been incredibly responsible with them and I am enjoying her maturing before my very eyes:
C10 herding her chickens in
C10 herding her chickens in

Frugal tip # 4

We have lots of animals.  One Labrador, two moggies, two fish, two rabbits and three hens.  The rabbits came to us after their original owners needed to relocate.  What with straw, hay, dried food and saw dust they turned out to be quite expensive.  So we got thinking.  Gary repaired an old run to give them a static run overnight which was attached to their cage.  The second run (we were given two runs, both in bad shape), which we put them into each morning, is used as a movable run to give them access to fresh grass daily.  We don’t use straw at all, they keep their bedding and cage area spotless by using the outside run to go to the loo.    Their hay therefore acts as both their bedding and their main food.  We do not buy dried food.  I did  a bit of research and decided we would be able to meet their nutritional needs by giving them wild foods and fruit and vegetable scraps.  Each morning and evening, whoever is in charge of the animals picks them a huge bunch of dandelions leaves, grass and clover.  In addition each day we give them a nice sized fruit tree branch (we have three fruit trees in our garden) and they are able to nibble the leaves and wear down their teeth on the wood and bark.  We eat a huge amount of fruit and veg in our family so there are always cauliflower and broccoli stalks and celery leaves and carrot tops going spare.  After I have cut of the edible bits for us I cut the leftovers into large cubes and keep them in a bag in the fridge.  They get a bowl of these in addition to different veg and fruit scraps from my mum.  As for saw dust Gary keeps all the saw dust each time he saws up wood for our fire.  The only thing we buy is hay.  The rest is all free and we’ve had the vet check them over and they are very health yet very frugally kept rabbits.

What an I reading?

Unusually for me, not much.  I was too busy decluttering!  I did however happen upon this website, which is a whole website dedicated to free resources available in the public domain.  I really enjoyed perusing through it briefly yesterday and came across this full, free, modern UK maths curriculum.  It looks amazing and I am going to try it out on my children.  Next year I will be teaching four children maths and it is one of the only curriculums I buy in.  If this worked for us it would save me a fortune.  I am a little excited about the possibilities!

What will we be doing next week?

  • Not eating lovely big snacks in the evening
  • Not going shopping, especially for food which might be used for making lovely big snacks in the evening
  • Packing another five bags for the charity shops to earn us our second £10
  • Once I have mastered not shopping during the week, I want to increase the spacing between each grocery shop from one week to two.  In order to do this I need to put aside a bit of money each week so I have enough to do two weeks worth of shopping when the time arrives.  My goal this week is just £10 which I have already popped into a jar.
  • I want to make available to the younger children the left over craft bits and pieces we have.  The sooner they are used up, the less cluttered life will be and I can finally move onto chapter three in Crystal’s book (mentioned a couple of weeks ago).  I took a sneaky peak and it was on budgeting.  I decided I’d rather declutter!


  1. You are amazing… I am learning so much and gathering so many tips. But what I love most of all, is how this experience is forming your three older children’s characters and you are able to see parts of their personalities develop through this. It’s beautiful and goes to show that regardless of what we experience in life… and we are guaranteed both good and bad… if we keep our hearts and attitudes positive and cheerful, we can achieve MUCH and you guys are all focused on a goal together as a family. I believe this is a rare thing in today’s society and honestly? I applaud you, Gary and all your babies… big and small! Thank you for your honesty and transparency in being willing to share this journey! x

    1. Thanks Liezel! There is a feeling of togetherness whilst we do this, a movement towards a common goal. What is also really nice is seeing the children manage their own money. I’m watching some subtle shifts in how they view money. It’s all good!

  2. I have just spent a good 5 minutes laughing out loud!!! I’m home alone – Tom being out playing golf as it’s Saturday morning, never mind that’s it’s raining heavily – but I thought at one point if anyone came in they’d think I need to be looked about. You guys are having so much fun. Are those your own tomatoes already? Rhubarb looks great too. Can I just say too that I’m completely with you on the excuse vs reason thing. Just because is a great reason for anything. Love to you all. Can we Skype soon?

    1. Not our own tomatoes, no. We’ve not planted any tomatoes so far this year.
      Skype tonight if that suits? We need to talk to you about coming over as we are booking today.
      Talk soonxx

  3. You MUST really investigate the CIMT math programme. I have used it with my g’kids for the past 3-4 years. It is excellent, especially the elementary levels. We are just venturing into the middle years. D has had difficulty with math and needed to backtrack in order to fully understand it. He is doing very well now. I really like the cyclical approach in the Reception and Y1-6. It was just what we needed at the time. The three girls are doing it – one each in Y1,2, and 3. It does need adult input but it is well worth it.

    Myra, from Winnipeg, Canada, who is enjoying a lazy sunny Saturday morning

    1. We’re switching from Mathusee. I really don’t like it as a curriculum, never have but thought it might work for L10. It does to an extent but I just think there must be a better way!

  4. Love your frugal tips, I know it is so hard to give up buying things especially for the children (aside from the basic groceries). You are doing so well!

  5. Oh my gosh I just love your sense of humor! It is also so lovely to read about how kind, caring and ingenious your children are. Best of luck with the snacking!

  6. Loved this one as much as the others! V inspiring. The family pic at the top is gorgeous, and the jam looks scrummy.
    C(9) is reading the Little House on the Prairie series and listening to The Hunger Games trilogy (for the fourth time) – every time we are out walking she points out bizarre “edible” things. I’m not sure I’d fancy any of them as sofa-snacks though!

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