The Swan Life: November 2016

The Swan Life

The Swan Life: November 2016

Hello readers, it’s Lucy again! Wow, did November fly by or was it just me? It’s definitely that time of year where the weather changes and the holidays fall upon us, we blink and the year will be over. I find myself making a few mental notes, more of a to-do list of things to complete before 2016 turns to 2017. Things like Christmas gift shopping, travel coming up (I have a bunch in December), decorations for around the house. But enough about thinking in the future, let’s recap November!


For some reason my past monthly recaps (from September and October) have started out with travel. Looking back on a given month is usually easier when I think through where I was and what activities were going on.

I took a very quick work trip to Chicago earlier in the month. It was actually amazing timing to be in the city… the day before I arrived the Cubs had won the World Series. Talk about lots of hype in the city. I may have grown up in the Midwest, but I am not a Cubs fan. I grew up watching Chipper Jones on TBS and have always been a Braves fan as a result. Nevertheless it was still pretty neat to see so many people walking around in their Cubs attire. There was a lot of pride in that city. Oh and I will also say that I escaped the city the morning before the parade. That gathering looked outrageous and something I didn’t want to slow down my Uber to the airport!

We also traveled for the Thanksgiving holiday. As I write this we’re driving back from my brother’s house outside of Washington D. C. Great thing about this trip was it only took a car ride, not three plane tickets (huge savings there). Yes we will be traveling for both Thanksgiving and Christmas this year. It’s not the norm and not something we care to do. Not only is it the time it takes to travel and time off work, but it can also get expensive!


It’s that time of year to spend money on others. Oh wait, that maybe sounded bad. I mean it’s fun to exchange gifts and to buy something you know that other person will love. What JW and I are not fans of is the idea of buying a gift just to buy something (I think I actually mentioned that during my October recap when JW had a birthday). We have pared down the gift giving the past couple years and focused more on the kids (my son and niece), because kids are way more fun to buy for anyway.

We exchanged some gifts while at my brother’s over Thanksgiving. I decided to go the homemade route this year for my niece. Let me explain first, back when JW was taking night classes to get his MBA I needed to fill my time. I tried something totally new and learned how to crochet. It was actually a ton of fun and I’ve kept that hobby up here and there since (I don’t find a ton of time to crochet now with a little one, but I try). I found a cute pattern online for the sweater and thought let’s give it a whirl! I’m not a pro here so I will admit I had to YouTube how to make a certain stitch from the pattern, but I figured it out. The gift cost me 3 skeins of yarn, maybe $9 total and it was a hit. This is the type of gift that really means something and I’m happy to give.

The Swan Life
The sweater gifted to my niece…she can grow into it yet

Speaking of gifts, are any of you Black Friday shoppers? I can honestly say I have never once gotten up early for the sale. I haven’t found the sales to be for items I’m in the market for. Why bother fighting crowds and disrupting my sleep for something that I either don’t need or could find a sale on any other time of the year. We have purchased items on Cyber-Monday before, but that was from the comfort of our couch and for things we need anyway…my kind of shopping.

Holiday Décor

We put our tree up before Thanksgiving. Don’t judge, hear me out. My reasoning was because we are traveling for both holidays so I wanted to make sure it was up long enough for us to enjoy and appreciate it. Each year JW and I try to purchase one more holiday decoration for the house. We haven’t added to the collection yet this year, but we may also hold off. The tree was fascinating to our young son so that might be good enough for us (plus no need to add more bulk since we just did a purge and don’t want to add more to what we may end up storing if we do move to London).

It was a lot of fun to put up the tree. When we take trips we always try to snag an ornament to remember our travels. To un-box all these memories is always so much fun. It’s also a cost effective way to bring home a souvenir without breaking the bank.


Lastly, I received my Q3 bonus this month! It was in line with my expectations and I’ll pat myself on the back a little bit. Having this part of my paycheck is something that can not always be relied upon, but is always great to help boost investments. I work hard to earn as good of a bonus as possible, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen the way we’d like. But this quarter was good so we are happy to have that extra income and boost to the investments.

Do you feel like November flew by too? Any Black Friday shoppers out there and want to share their great deals? How about holiday décor, do you collect souvenir ornaments from special trips?








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  1. Love the sweater! I’ve always wanted to learn how to knit/crochet, but I just never seem to do it. I’m starting to think about what kind of goals I want to work towards next year-maybe I’ll put that on the list! For homemade gifts this year, I have strawberry jam that I canned this past summer from freshly picked strawberries. I’m thinking to make a nice jarred cookie mix to go along with it, and maybe a jar of cocoa mix, for a fun gift basket.

    1. You should definitely put it on your 2017 list! There are so many great websites with tutorials or video how-tos. I love the idea of making the Christmas gifts mid-year when the ingredients are fresh. Great head start to your gift gathering and it sounds delicious! -Lucy

  2. Crocheting – what a great hobby! Great for gifts and probably fun too. I’ve heard that some of these “old school” hobbies were making a come back. We’ve never been much for homemade gifts, but I love the idea. Our kids are teenagers now and nephews and nieces are in college so they either like cash or name brand apparel – lol!

    As for me, November flew by as well. We had lots of family in town for Thanksgiving, so we were fixing up the house in preparation for that. Looking at December, I have a week long work offsite next week and then just a few weeks in the office and the year is over – crazy!

    Thanks for posting Lucy, it’s nice to hear from “the other half” sometimes! 🙂

    1. Haha yes I love my “old school” hobby. Surprisingly it’s starting to gain more traction with the younger crowd and I love that! Sometimes cash and gift cards are the way to go… so easy! Hope you enjoyed your holiday and safe travels for work. I have a couple trips in December myself. -Lucy

  3. We did have a few frugal wins this month. We bought our first Christmas tree (an artificial one) on sale at Home Depot for $80. It came with built-in lights, so we didn’t have to worry about buying those. We decorated the tree with ornaments I inherited from my parents, so the cost to decorate the tree was free!

    During Black Friday we inadvertently scored a few deals. Black Friday makes me a little grumpy, but we’re buckling down in December to start paying our student loans, so we went a little crazy with the spending this month. We adopted a kitten from our local shelter and his adoption fee was waived as a Black Friday deal (we still donated to the shelter, though). I also purchased a KitchenAid mixer, which I’ve been pining after for years, so that was a dream come true. It did help that I got it for half price with a rebate from KitchenAid as well. 🙂

    1. We bought our Christmas tree a few years ago from Lowe’s after the holiday so it was way on sale. Your deal sounds great though too and before Christmas even! Congratulations on the new addition to the family 🙂 Great bargain shopping to adopt on Black Friday (can you call that shopping??) Ahh yes I LOVE my Kitchen Aid Mixer. What an amazing deal again! You are a true deal finder, I love it. -Lucy

  4. Congrats on a good month, Lucy. I knit, but I had to limit my knitting when Little Bit was small (between birth and about age 4), first due to exhaustion and then due to the fact that she kept trying to play with my yarn. Now she’s big enough that she (mostly) lets me do it without too much interference. Much of my knitting gets donated to our church’s Day of Giving sale (proceeds go to various outreach, like food banks, etc) but Little Bit has her share of knitted accessories…and keeps asking for homemade doll clothes.

    It makes total sense to me that you’d be hitting the road this holiday season, especially if you’ll be in London next year. I’m sure you’ll have family volunteers to come visit you.

    1. Haha yes this sounds oh so familiar. My son likes to grab the skein of yarn and walk away unraveling it. Not so funny to me, but we can quickly direct his attention elsewhere. Usually I have a hard time sitting and crocheting for long because he asks me to play with him. Can’t say no to that! I wish I did more and I would definitely be in favor of donating. Especially with items made with the leftover yarn from projects. It piles up quickly and is nice to get rid of it in a honest way. -Lucy

  5. Our November flew by as well. That’s a great sweater btw! No major black friday deals here, a few sets of Christmas lights at 50% off, and then 10% off a new mattress, with no tax and free shipping, so big savings there. Otherwise, just used the online deals to finish up Christmas and birthday shopping, Mrs. SSC has a Dec. birthday.

    We’re traveling for Christmas – just driving thank goodness. When we put our tree up the kids had no interest in decorating it this year. After a week, we just stopped asking and will just leave it with lights on only – one less thing to take down in a month. I think because they decorated a mini tree upsairs, they got that out of their system maybe? The rest of the house is festive enough for me, so I’m fine with lights only.

    1. I’m a fan of Black Friday shopping when it’s an item you absolutely need and/or have been researching for a while. I can imagine you did the research on the mattress and decided it was time to pull the trigger. That’s my kind of shopping! Hey a tree with just lights is probably still very festive and pretty! I actually kind of like that idea. I was worried our son would be very interested in taking all the ornaments off. Luckily he hasn’t. The fascination has been just turning on the lights. I’ll take it! Safe travels for the holidays! -Lucy

  6. That is one beautiful sweater. I wish I had had a talented aunt with good taste when I was growing up : )

    We had two sets of houseguests in November – early November and then for Thanksgiving. The month went by in a flash. In general, I’ve found that since Toddler BITA arrived on the scene my life has been accelerating. She must be a wizard with time swallowing abilities.

    Our tree is up. None of our gifts our bought though, so I’m going to have to start doing my headless chicken impersonation any day now.

    1. Sounds like a busy month! Hopefully you can savor December a bit more, but I feel like this time of year always goes by so far. Enjoy the family, friends and good food, huh? I’m with you on lacking the Christmas gifts. I need to get a plan in place and start shopping a bit more. -Lucy

  7. Congratulations on the bonus, Lucy!

    Great job on the sweater! It looks awesome! I learned to crochet much the same way. One Christmas during grad school, I had 2 weeks off for break and my husband was working, so I bought a book and taught myself. I still love to crochet scarves and cute hats. I’m also having a hard time finding extra time to do it right now…but still love to do it when I do have time.

    1. Thank you Amanda! Great working teaching yourself to crochet from a book! It’s a fun skill to have and even when I think I’ve mastered something, say a certain pattern, I realize there is still so much I don’t yet know. Keep at it when time allows! -Lucy

  8. If you want to improve your crocheting skills and get a memorable new Christmas decoration for this year, you should crochet one! I knitted a little fox wearing a hat and scarf, and it’s adorable. I’ve seen a ton of cute Christmas ornament crochet patterns too!

    1. Cute I’d love to see your fox! Last year I made crochet snowflakes for each member of the family. They were ornaments, but could also hang anywhere in the house. About 2 years ago I started a tree skirt… let me tell you that took me over a year! I did finish just in time for Christmas last year. I have a hard time coming up with ideas sometimes, but thank goodness for Pinterest! -Lucy

  9. Great work with the homemade sweater Lucy. I’m so against the over-spending and mass-consumerism buying of gifts at this time of the year (and any time really) but I have total respect for gift givers who make their own. Whether it’s something from the kitchen, or garden, or crocheted, the fact that a) something of yourself has gone into it, and b) the gift will most likely be something the receiver really wants gels with me.

    Are there any further updates on the London move? Maybe I’ve missed it but has a decision been made to make the big move?

    1. You’re right about homemade gifts. I also think of the sweater as something they’ll always keep, even after she grows out of it. At least I hope so, right?! No updates on London. We are both perfectly fine with the waiting period (the opposite of what we’d normally think). That’s mainly just due to the baby on the way. Our preference is to deliver here in the states. So we figure if we don’t hear anything until early next year that will be best. Thanks for checking! We’ll definitely keep you updated. -Lucy

  10. November for me went super slow and then at the end sped up. I am responsible for completing the financial statements and it ran into mid-November for me like always. However, once it was done time went by incredibly quickly.

    Anyway, we had another really great month and are really looking forward to the holidays when I’ll be able to take off a week or two.

    Congrats on the Q3 bonus 🙂

    1. Yes the ornaments are so much fun to unwrap each year when decorating the tree. Do you still make gifts like your hats and mittens? I’m always looking for new patterns and ideas. -Lucy

  11. Hi Lucy, looks like you had a pretty great November!

    I don’t just think November flew by, I am actually feeling that 2016 has flown by pretty quickly! I saw something I bought last December and I managed to see it again today. It just dawned on me that, wow. Almost a year has passed. And of course, congrats on your bonus!

    1. Good point! I also think 2016 has gone by fast and I need to hold on to the precious moments more (good thing I take a LOT of pictures). Before you know it we’ll be in 2017! -Lucy

  12. Handmade gifts are really nice and appreciated. Our kids really like it a lot when my wife makes them a skirt or sweater… It beats a bought one each time.

    And a bonus is always nice to get

    1. Oh yes I remember my mom making many of my outfits, mainly for Easter and Christmas. Those are cherished! Although we don’t put a lot of money into Christmas gifts, it’s always great to get a nice bonus this time of year. Heck, I’ll take it any time of the year! -Lucy

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