The Swan Life: January 2017

The Swan Life

Hello readers of The Green Swan! It’s Lucy here to give an update on how The Swan Life treated us in January. As a reminder, I’m not the financial brain in this household. I am, however, here to support JW and provide a different perspective on this ol’ blog of his. Thanks for letting me come back again and share my thoughts!

New Recipes

I’m proud to say for the month of January I accomplished my 2017 goal of trying 2 new recipes each month. We actually exceed that goal and went way over two, but I’ll share the two I liked the best. The first was Creamy Chicken and Biscuits. It’s cold weather season (maybe not as bad in the south, but still chilly compared to our warm summers) so I love cooking up a good hearty meal. This one was found on Pinterest (go figure) and I was totally in love! Most often when we buy poultry we’ll try to save and buy the bulk pack. Then I like to bake the extra chicken, shred it and put into individual Ziplocs to store for later meals. This recipe is perfect for using one of these individual bags. Another reason we loved this recipe is to get some more vegetables in our diet… aka more vegetables for our toddler.

The other recipe we mastered in January was a Panera knock off cinnamon crunch scone recipe. We’ve really enjoyed our weekend mornings at Panera using up some gift cards, but those certainly don’t last forever. JW actually found a couple recipes online and we tried them all before settling on a combination of two of them. The recipe itself is great because it has shredded apple and turned out to be a bit healthier than some others. We then added in some cinnamon chips and voila, a Panera-like cinnamon crunch scone!

The Swan Life - Scones
Hmmm…delicious scones!

Award and Work Perks

My company threw our holiday part at the beginning of January. JW and I decided I’d attend alone which meant no money paid out for a babysitter. No, that wasn’t the only reason why we decided I’d go stag, but it certainly helps. I can’t say this party is something I look forward to each year, but it always turns out to be a fun night. This year turned out extra special because I actually won a leadership award. No, I’m not saying this to brag, I’m saying this because the award came with cash money! Well not technically cash in my hand, but extra in my paycheck! It wasn’t as much as, say, my quarterly bonus payout, but it’s something. As I’m sure we can all agree in the FIRE community, every little bit counts.

On top of the cash award I also won a raffle at the holiday party! Seriously, I didn’t realize how good the night would be heading into it. The raffle was free, everyone was given one ticket upon arrival just for showing up. My prize was a Keurig Rivo Cappuccino and Latte System! That’s a $200 prize my friends, score! This is totally an item JW and I would never splurge on. Although I do enjoy a good latte from time to time so it is a nice addition to our kitchen. I will say the special pods you have to purchase to make the espresso is more than we are used to (we’ve been enjoying our home brew cold brew), but still way cheaper than a latte from Starbucks. Between the new scone recipe and our at-home lattes, we can basically take out our Panera trips from the budget altogether!

The Swan Life - Keurig Rivo
You’re coming home with me!

Funny how I’m more excited about the Keurig Rivo than I am the cash award, even though the cash award was for worth more! But it feels nice winning something that I know I would like but wouldn’t otherwise buy…and no, I wasn’t about to let JW sell it online…

Movie On The Cheap

We took our son to the movie theater for the first time on a rainy Saturday afternoon in January. Weird for someone who grew up in the Midwest to say it was raining in January and not snowing, but that’s not the point. It wasn’t his first ever trip to the theater (my parents treated him to a movie the last time they visited), but it was our first time as a family of three. My parents did help us uncover the “dollar theater” near our house which I’m now in love with. The movies aren’t the most recent (some are already on DVD), but that is no problem to me! The tickets literally cost $3. It’s the concessions where they really make their money. No worries, we came prepared with a few snacks of our own… shhh! It was a fun afternoon activity that we won’t do all the time, but necessary when we need to get out of the house on a rainy day.

What Else in January??

We made a trip to the consignment store to pick up some warmer weather threads for our son. Again, crazy for this Midwesterner to think shorts and t-shirts in January! We made out with some great deals, but the main thing that caught my eye about this trip was actually a missed opportunity. They were holding a promotion for 50% discount on fall and winter clothes for newborn to 12 months. This would totally be something we’d take advantage of for baby #2… if we knew the gender! Dang, negative strike for our plan to be surprised on the day of delivery.

JW helped us out big time around the house last month. He’ll explain more about it in a future post all about the downfalls of being a homeowner, but I also wanted to commend him on a few jobs well done. He took advantage of Amazon to find replacement parts for our kitchen sink that has been leaking for a bit. No, it wasn’t constantly leaking, but you had to be very careful with the way you turned it off to prevent it from leaking. Sometimes that was forgotten and we’d find a trickle… and wasted water. He also did a great job fixing our ice machine in the fridge. This sounds like a daunting task to me… troubleshooting, figuring out the issue, finding the parts, purchasing and crossing your fingers it works. Great news, he fixed it!

Last, but not least was a slightly expensive, special occasion purchase I had to make. I’m going to be in my cousin’s wedding this upcoming July, something I didn’t think I’d do again now that I’m in my 30’s. Don’t get me wrong, I’m totally excited and so happy for her (my only girl cousin who I’ve been very close with growing up)! The challenge with this purchase was guessing my size. By the time she sent out the info on the dress and asked us to get measured I was already in maternity clothes and not able to get true measurements. Plus, let’s be honest, those would be pre-baby #2 measurements anyways. So I called the dress shop and we took a stab at it. Luckily my cousin’s parents are covering half of the dress (thank you to my aunt and uncle!), but my portion still came to about $110. I’m crossing my fingers my size estimation was spot on and I won’t need any alterations, aka more money spent on the dress. What do you think my odds are? Wait, don’t answer that.

I hope you all started 2017 with a bang! Any recipe suggestions we should try out in February? What other zero or low cost activities do you recommend with the little kids? We usually get out and ride bikes, but I’d love to hear other types of activities!

Lucy

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20 Comments

  1. Great January! One of my goals is to try a new recipe each month, and both January and February it was cupcakes. Last month I made white chocolate cupcakes, which sounds great but they were too dense. This month I found a new vanilla cupcake recipe which was amazing! It can be hard to find a good fluffy homemade cake recipe.

    1. Great idea! I like how you stuck with the one kind of food until you found a recipe that was great. We did the same with the scones and found one that fits our needs perfectly! -Lucy

  2. We’ve been spending a lot of time at the children’s museum this winter. We spent maybe forty dollars on a membership. We stop in about once or twice a week for a few hours. Added benefit on travel often other museums reciprocate so something to do if the kids get bored on vacation.

    1. That’s a great idea for some indoor activities with kids! The $40 membership is not bad one big when you go once or twice a week. This might be a good idea for us to look into next winter when we find ourselves cooped up more. -Lucy

  3. Those scones look soooooo gooooooooood.

    I’d always recommend making your own bread, which has been a big game-changer for us. Mr. Picky Pincher and I are finicky about bread and “fancy” bread at the store costs $3 – $5. At home it costs about $1. 🙂

    We had a pretty nice January. I’ve been so lazy lately, so I’ve been trying to get my butt in gear to take care of more things around the house.

    1. They tasted as good as they look! Do you have a bread machine or truly make it from scratch? I’m impressed either way, great work! -Lucy

  4. Congrats on the award and winning the latte machine! That would make my night too.

    I’m trying several new recipes this month – we’re trying to eliminate grains this month (or at least limit – I have teenagers). And I’m trying to do it without getting crazy on meat consumption. So far, so good! I’ve found soups and casseroles work well for this. Maybe a future post!? Btw, those scones look amazing!!!

    1. It’s probably a good idea to put some focus in the type of recipes you want to try. Eliminating grains is something we’d have a hard time doing at our house, but maybe I should search for some casseroles. I really like making a big meal on the weekend so it provides left overs during the week… because I definitely don’t have time to cook! -Lucy

  5. I really like your 2 new recipes/month idea. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut. We tried a few new recipes in January too and they worked very well. I’ll have to make them again. Chinese spare ribs was easy to make and they were really good. Chicken Pho noodle was easy to make too and it was great when we were sick.

    1. I don’t always do a good job branching out to the Asian style meals, but I should! Every time we’ve gotten one in our Blue Apron I’ve liked it. I think it’s time to search outside my comfort zone! -Lucy

    1. Hmm You Tube is not somewhere I’ve turned for help cooking… but I like the idea! I agree about the comfort zone, I need to branch out a bit more too! -Lucy

  6. Nice January, and those scones look really good. Mrs. SSC just found a good recipe for some orange/cranberry scones that finally had the texture spot on. Not too dense, not too dry.

    The library is always a good spot for us, at least for an hr anyway. If a family membership to a science/natural history museum is inexpensive and close enough to use often, that is good as well. We use the zoo a lot, because there are only maybe 2 months that we can’t go to the zoo for at least a few hrs.

    1. These are all great ideas! We haven’t ventured to the library in a while. Last time we went he wasn’t interested in any of the books and didn’t know the meaning of “shhh, it’s a library” 🙂 -Lucy

  7. The $3 movie sounds cool. What movies did you guys see? I have to see if they have those available in NYC area. Movies are so expensive nowadays. As for other activities with little ones in winter time, we like museums…children’s museums, science museums (usually have activities for younger kids), Natural History Museum here (my son loved the dinosaur section). Indoor play areas can be pretty fun too…but some of them seem really hectic with a bunch of crazy kids =)

    1. The movie we saw was Storks and we all liked it I think. Good timing for us to find out about the cheap theater. I look forward to going back! Science museums sound like a great place to take kids indoors! -Lucy

  8. I like the new recipe idea. I had a goal of every week, but 2 a month seems a lot more reasonable. I did do something new this week…mashed turnips. I usually roast them and leave the mashing to potatoes, but the hubby and I decided we liked mashed turnips better (the 6 year old wouldn’t try them.)

    Second-run movie theaters are awesome! We love ours, even though it takes a good 30 minutes to drive there. But it’s good to get the big screen experience even if the movie is already out on DVD or streaming, especially for animated kid’s movies or action movies.

    1. Great idea to mash the turnips! How did they turn out? Did they look like mashed potatoes though and could you fool a young one into eating them 🙂 You’re right, even if the kids have seen a movie and we take them to see it again on the big screen, they will love it! -Lucy

  9. I did chicken enchiladas, and froze some. I also did a beef stew in the crock pot so I’d have some variety & froze a container of that. You can put vegetables in either recipe easily. I put frozen green beans in when I heat up the stew for something green, aside from the carrots. I put corn in with my enchiladas, but diced peppers could go in easily too.
    Things are slowing down from being hectic, I haven’t had the space to consider new recipes. Old stand bys got me through January. Because I’ve been visiting family every other weekend, I decided I really do need to get 4+ meals out of each cooking session, the 2 serving Blue Apron doesn’t do it for me right now.
    I’m meeting out of town friends for lunch tomorrow & then have a doctor’s appointment in the afternoon I know will leave me grumpy, so I am letting myself order out dinner. I have both a coupon and a gift card for Red Robin. Potatoes are my comfort food. 🙂
    I can’t wait to hear about your recipes in Feb.

    1. Those are all great ideas! I should think more about freezing meals… especially with a little one on the way and assuming I’ll have less time/interest in cooking. I love have gift cards and using them on nights when it just isn’t possible to cook. There is nothing wrong with old standbys! -Lucy

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