The Swan Life: September 2017

Swan Life

Lucy here to share the month from my perspective. September was a fairly normal month in the Swan household. We had some fun taking a trip to see family, found a great new way to order our groceries and started prepping for the fall/holiday season. I’m also writing this post as we sit on a balcony at our hotel in Hilton Head Island… more on those details next month.

Washington DC Trip

Our month started off with a great trip up north to visit family. My brother and his wife and daughter live outside of Washington DC and we owed them a visit for a while now. They drove down to Charlotte shortly after our second son was born and we celebrated our first son’s 3rd birthday. We figured the three-day weekend with Labor Day would work best, less PTO needed to take off.

It was a pretty cost effective trip too. First off, the cost of driving was much less than purchasing 3 plane tickets. Gas for the whole trip was about $90 and without looking at prices online the flights would probably be north of $900 total. Huge savings right off the bat. Next savings was where we stayed. No hotel room needed (and let me know tell ya, I know hotels). Staying at their house saved us easily $150/night and we stayed 3 nights saving us $450 before taxes. Again a huge savings.

Of course the activities throughout the weekend revolved around the kids, and some college football. One day we drove into the city to visit some museums. Our plan was to arrive right when the Air and Space Museum opened and that we did. Actually got there about 10 minutes early and there was a small line out the door. This was the highlight of the trip. The kids (minus the baby who was obliviously content the whole time) loved the spaceships and IMAX short featuring Big Bird and Elmo. It might even turn into a great Halloween costume idea for the cygnet #1.

Order Online Groceries at Walmart

I’ve talked before on this blog about my obsession with Instacart. We were gifted 3 months free subscription while pregnant with cygnet #2. We took full advantage of that after we had the baby, but still there was always a delivery fee for each order. So even though we got the subscription for free, there were still charges outside the cost of our normal cost of groceries. A colleague of mine told me about online groceries at Walmart. You could pay a fee for delivery, but instore pick up was completely free (with a minimum order of $30 or more). We tested it out and decided this would be our weekly go to. It’s super easy to add things to your cart throughout the week (either online or through the Walmart Grocery app).

If I haven’t mentioned this on the blog before, I detest going to the grocery store more than once a week. I try hard to be organized and ready with our meal plan, but let’s be honest, with our work schedules and activities it can be hard. I always make sure to have a few go-to quick dinner ideas just in case. This is a huge time saver for us on the weekend. Of course driving to the store still takes some time, at least we can cut out the time it takes us to walk around and shop. And shopping with a three year old can be a challenge. Can I get an amen?

Swan Life

What makes this service even better? The fact that JW will take our oldest son to pick the groceries up, leaving me at home to tend to other weekend chores. One caviat I’ve found is the turnaround time. You reserve a time for pick up, but the window is about 12 hours. Meaning you can’t order and expect them to be ready in about 2 hours, it doesn’t work that quickly. This just means I have to really be on my game and think ahead for ordering. Something I’m slowly but surely getting better at

Fall Prep

Each year we have a mini family tradition when it comes to decorations. We try to add one item for our house each fall and holiday. This year we picked out a fun fall wreath. I absolutely love the way it goes  with our cream front door and orangish bricks on the house. I’m not very good at interior (or in this case exterior) design. I don’t have the knack for mixing patterns, colors, etc. I easily get sucked into Pinterest when trying to find ideas. Which is why I also try to stay away from Pinterest when needing ideas. We actually bought this wreath at Walmart for just $10. You’re probably saying to yourself “wait a minute, I thought you didn’t shop any more and just pick up your groceries at Walmart!” This purchase actually came from a week that I did not order the groceries in time and we had to make a family trip to shop for them. I guess sometimes it pays to not be on your game.

Swan Life

Fall prep also calls for some touch ups around the house. We’re hosting Thanksgiving this year so JW and I have both started updating some areas of our house that haven’t been touched since we moved in. One big item was the lights and light fixtures around the house. Who knew our entry way chandelier was so dirty… until we cleaned it. Holy smokes the glass is so much clearer now that JW took it all down and washed it! We know how much home maintenance and chores rub him the wrong way, but it was a great task to have done.

He also bought a few new fixtures for ceiling lights on Amazon. We’ll be putting those up this next month before Thanksgiving rolls around. Now I need to think of other items to start prepping for company (both family and friends… we’ll have a total of ten people counting our family of four). We plan on buying some paper plates for ease of washing and will most likely stay busy with a combination of outdoor activities and college football. Looking forward to it!

Raffle Winning and Christmas Shopping

This month I attended a charity luncheon with coworkers. I was invited as an attendee from someone who had purchased a table. It was a touching charity that had many people tearing up during a video shown. The reason I bring this up is because of a raffle they offered and yours truly winning a Kendra Scott necklace. Ever heard of this jewelry before? It’s high quality and not cheap. I also happen to love it, but don’t even spend my money on it. I ended up winning the Rayne Necklace in White Pearl. Coincidentally enough, a necklace I had my eye on before.

Weirdly enough, this got us thinking about starting our Christmas shopping and we did start pretty early this year. We actually did a little online shopping at Kendra Scott for my sister-in-law. She also enjoys her jewelry and we found a great piece in rose gold that I know she’ll love. While thinking of Christmas gifts JW did a bit of searching online for my father. For those of you who don’t know my dad… wait that’s all of you… he brews and bottles his own beer at home. He has a very small operation, but really enjoys the process, trying new flavors and sharing with friends and family. JW found this great GrowlerWerks uKeg 128 Pressurized Growler on Amazon. Bad news was that it was pretty far out of our price range for gifts. Great news is we started our shopping so early that I figured my brother probably hadn’t bought anything for my dad quiet yet and thought maybe we could go in on it together. We sent him a message and he was in. Perfect, another family member crossed off of Christmas gift list.

We can share these ideas early because we actually haven’t shared this blog with any family members. We find that not only do we prefer to keep this anonymous from strangers, but also from our family.

How did your September treat you? Have you tried out ordering your groceries online at Walmart? Are you prepping for the holidays already too? Anybody start their Christmas shopping in September like we did?


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  1. I haven’t tried out Walmart for groceries to go. Have you always shopped at Walmart? I may have a difficult time convincing my wife to start shopping there.

    Also, thanks for the link to the Growler. That is an awesome gift idea – something I may need for myself!

    1. Yes we have actually shopped for groceries at Walmart for quite a while. Originally it spurred from the fact that I only like to shop once per week and I wanted to get as much as possible in one location. Shopping at Walmart allowed me to not only get the groceries, but also pick up shampoo, toothpaste, etc. Then it turned into me loving the groceries there! Not ony were the prices better than our local grocery store, but the produce was very good. I was originally concerned that the produce section wouldn’t be as good, but in reality it was better! The only real downside to this is the distance we drive to go to Walmart. If we’re making a quick trip to the store we’ll opt to go around the corner to the grocery store. -Lucy

  2. Great month JW and Lucy! We love D.C. for frugal grin family vacations. It’s only a 6-7 hour drive from CT, and has so many fun and free things to do. My boys also love the air and space museum, although they’re also big fans of the botanical gardens. Love the wreath!

    1. You’re right, DC is a great spot for family adventures. There’s so much more to do, we could return over and over again and not hit it all! We’re about the same drive time to DC which works out really well to drive as opposed to purchasing flights! I have to give JW most credit for the wreath… he has good taste! -Lucy

  3. Sounds like a great month! Love how you saved money on travel by driving instead of flying. I had no idea Walmart was getting into the grocery delivery game! Our local grocery stores have started doing curbside pickup, which is also a nice option, but delivery is nice as well. I still go to the store myself, but I could see how this service would be a blessing for people with small kids!

    1. I’ve never opted for the actual delivery through Walmart, only pickup. I noticed when checking out online that delivery is an option. I’m pretty sure they use another company for that though, it’s not done by their employees. I love things that make life easier! -Lucy

  4. I like the idea of the Walmart Groceries on the Go! I use Google Express and Shipt for online shopping and deliver (I’m a working mom, so I try to get rid of shopping!) but they typically price-up items a bit. I hope you have a great fall!

    ~Mrs. Adventure Rich

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