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January – end of month review

Posted by on Monday 31 January 2011 in goals, less than 12 clothes challenge, meta | 13 comments

Just a quick post reviewing my progress on my various goals/spending, and about tracking other stuff that I may or may not have mentioned.

(I mentioned this on Twitter – I’d had this bunting for a while and John surprised me by putting it up in our dining room. Pretty!)

Goals in 2011 progress

I haven’t really achieved any of my goals for 2011 yet – early days, early cold days. I think we’ve baked something every week so far though and I’ve also started tracking of usage of more consumables (FYI – but possibly TMI too – it takes us 6 days to use a toilet roll), so that’s a start. I also built some things from wood for the garden, which will help me with my piece-of-furniture making goal.

Buy less than 12 items of clothing in 2011

I haven’t bought clothes this month so my tally for the year is still at zero. (More info about the challenge…)

I did look at stuff in the sales online at the start of the year but wasn’t persuaded by anything. And last week, I went into a few shops that sell clothes amongst other things (mostly charity shops) – but I put my blinkers on and went straight for the other stuff – homeware things – instead of looking at clothes. It’s quite a poor area so the vast majority of the clothes are cheap makes – I don’t mind buying some of my items from charity shops but I want to avoid poor quality clothes wherever they are sold.

Growing stuff & the chickens

Since it’s still chilly winter, not much is happening on the growing front. I sowed some winter gem lettuce near the start of the month and they’re still tiny, but getting bigger by the day. We also had some fruit trees delivered – six apples and two pears – and John’s planted those out now. I also bought two blackcurrant bushes – I feel like we’re making good progress in the perennial fruit situation now.

The chickens have enjoyed the factionally longer days and the mostly warmer weather – and the two black rocks both started laying mid-month. Lime is still moulting and Buff is still refusing to give up the goods, but we’ve had a solid five eggs a day from the other five nearly every day for the last fortnight. We’ve had 109 eggs in total for January – not bad going since it was just one or two a day at the start of the month! (Also, in late breaking news, some of the chickens are currently grounded – I let them out to play again yesterday and someone, Ginger I think, led the parade into the wooded bit of our garden – it took me about half an hour to catch them all again!)


Some weeks I’ve been better at cooking than others – one week because I was out nearly every evening and the other because I was tired. Some highlights though: remembering how much we enjoy sausage & lentil casserole, starting our sticky rib sauce adventures and lemon curd, oh my, lemon curd.


I started crocheting a big stripey blanket – it’s slow going but it’s about 5ft long and 18ins wide now so it’s coming along.

My proCRAFTination project has taken a back bench to the mindlessness of crocheting stripes – I’ve finished sewing my dot-to-dot’s from Leethal. I also started but abandoned embroidering a purse (I had an idea that was very embroidery heavy and I decided it would have taken too long for the outcome to be worth it), and improvised a really bad crocheted dog bookmark — bit annoyed at both those projects because they fed into the meh-machine of me starting but not finishing projects, and with a bit of planning that could have been avoided. Onward and upward.

Outside, I made the wooden planters for the garden too – as much as I like crafts I can do on the sofa, I do very much like playing about with wood too. Got some more ideas of things to make over the next few weeks, weather permitting.


I’ve done better than I thought I would at keeping a track of all my spending. I’ve decided not to include food for consumption within the home for now as that’s not a problem area for us – but I am including takeout/delivery food or things we’ve bought while we were out & about — stuff that is a luxury and bought more out of laziness/frivolous desire than anything else.

Aside from food (including animal food) and bills (including mortgages & utilities), I’ve spent £199.96 – quite a bit! £28.24 (14%) was on frivolous food, £51.89 (26%) on household items (including toiletries as well as some photo frames and a lovely will-last-forever egg rack) & pet stuff, and £45.20 (23%) on transport (mostly bus fares but including two unavoidable taxi fares – more than normal of both because I was involved with a theatre production in the evenings for a fortnight). I also bought one book for pleasure, one book for work, and spent £32.13 (16% of the total) on craft supplies, mostly more yarn for the blanket. I suspect I spent a little more than I would do on some things as an aftermath of my no-spend period last month – hopefully February will be more frugal.

How has your January been? A strong start to the new year or are you in a holding pattern, waiting for spring?

And those people participating in 12 in 11 clothes challenge – how’s it going? I’m going to do a full recap at the end of Feb – but do let us know how you’re getting on!


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Colleen (365lessthings.com)

    Hi Louisa,
    just checking in to let you know that I also have managed to buy no new clothes so far this year. I am sticking with you on this challenge for one I want to reduce my wardrobe and two having someone accountable to makes the goal easier to stick to. So thank you!

  2. sara

    Well i have not bought any clothes..in fact i’m about to give some away..plus shoes..having a good ole clear out of handbags too..got far to many for one woman to own…got my allotment dug over and planned what veg where and how much..took your advice and went to my neighbours and explained about my recycling,re-using things and scored a big fat freezer for my trouble..yay me..its full of my veg now and will get used properly lol…started making cushions again..have been sending off for wallpaper samples to make new pictures..painting the frames and popping the sample in and i have lovely exclusive and expensive pictures.lol..baked at least twice a week..cooked everyday..totally organized the swapsies for this year..icecream man gets seasonal veg and fruit and i get icecream and lollies..my friend made my marmalade for me and is getting strawberries,raspberries,gooseberries,loganberries in return..the tea man gets a dozen eggs in exchange for very nice tea..which lasts us 2 wks..swapping books with my daughters in a circle..doing flower baskets for parents and in-laws in exchange for lifts and taking girls to coast for days out..so far thats it..but i have re-decorated my bedroom on a budget..got 2 pillowcases from argos for 99p..going to lace the edges to make them more feminine..lol..haven’t spent too much this month either..i started a penny jar too..and a 5p jar..thats for treats when its full..not too bad so far..will keep going though..
    Louisa..your doing great ..its lovely of you to let us into your life and share it..thank you..

    • louisa

      Cor, a busy month for you! I like your swapsies idea – I definitely want to get more things like that lined up this year.

      Well done on scoring the freezer! Hopefully that’ll start an avalanche of donated goodies :)

  3. Nikki


    Just starting this blogging thing and came across yours while searching for inspiration. Wanted to say I love your style, subject matter, recipes and I will keep on reading!


  4. Taphopile

    I’ve blogged 12 in 11. http://need2knit.blogspot.com/2011/02/12-into-11-january-update.html

    I’ve had some very close calls. If it hadn’t been for the challenge a lot more would have been brought home.

    We’ve spent a huge amount of January processing foodstuffs but we’re back to work today, so that will all slow down. Having nutritious and inexpensive “fast food” and preserved fruit on the shelves, and pizza bases and cake in the freezer, though, is so going to help break the takeaway habit.

    Now to come up with some more uses for jam.

    • louisa

      Hi Taph,

      I heart homemade ready meals too – saves us turning to takeout. As I said on your blog the other day, I love that you’ve canned soups too – something I hadn’t thought of doing. We usually freeze a couple of portions from each batch but they fill up the freezer and canning would be a much better options.

      Re: jam. Yes, I feel like that at the moment too. When I made my first batch of jam, I thought there was no doubt we’d get through it in good time – then I made another and another… Must eat more jam!

  5. bookstorebabe

    Well, there’s always a lovely jam cake. Mmm…Too much homemade jam sounds like a nice problem to have! This may sound a bit odd, but when I was young we used to dollop strawberry jam on top of vanilla ice cream. Mom only bought vanilla, when she bought it at all, so my siblings and I would get creative with the toppings.
    As far as clothes-so far all I have bought are socks. Necessity purchase, not frivolous. And I’ll be buying a decent pair of work shoes soon.

  6. Su

    The good news – I haven’t bought any clothes! I have had a ‘wardrobe cull’ and the only stuff remaining is stuff that I will actually wear, all mended, hung up & ironed! I have also completed a skirt that I started last year. I know that I need a short sleeved cardigan (I have reached that age when my upper arms need covering!), so I pulled out all my sleeveless tops and now know what colour will go best. Just have to get the cotton yarn now, so that I can make it. Because I have to buy the yarn it will come out of my ‘coupons’.
    When you know that you can’t just buy a cheap top or whatever, it really makes you look after what you already have.
    I have only spent £31.75 on food this month & that includes cat food! I had planned on using up food I already had in, thinking it would take about a week, I STILL have stuff left after a month! I have had to buy some stuff though, mainly milk, fresh veg & eggs.
    The bad news is that I have spent £58.50 on bus fares, so my target of spending less than £500 on bus fares during the year is looking highly unlikely. I have been so careful, have planned all my journeys, which bus ticket etc, etc, so I am a bit upset about this. But hey ho, you win some, you lose some.

  7. louisa

    Hi Su,

    Bus fares aside, it looks like you’ve made a cracking start to the new year – making a cotton cardigan of some sort is, I think, next on my list after I finish the blanket-that-will-never-end ;)

    £31.75 on food including cat food – impressive!

    Re: bus fares – I think the £500 is still possible – I’d guess it would be easier to be inspired to walk/cycle in the spring and summer. Have faith :)

  8. Su

    Normally I’d cycle to and from work in all but the snowiest of weathers, and I know this sounds improbable, but my frozen shoulder is really hampering me! It’s impossible to turn round to look behind me & to indicate that I’m turning right, both of which are pretty fundamental to reasonbaly safe cycling. I’m hoping that once the shoulder is ok, then I’ll be able to cut down on bus usage.

  9. Mel

    Hi can I join the challenge? I may need help I’ve bought two items of clothes and a pair of shoes (for work) already this month.

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