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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26 Comments on "The Swan Life: November 2016"

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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.

Jon @ Be Net Worthy
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… Read more »
Mrs. Picky Pincher
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… Read more »
Emily @ JohnJaneDoe
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… Read more »
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… Read more »

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.

Amanda @centsiblyrich

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.

Ellie @ The Chedda

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!

Martin - Get FIRE'd asap

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?

Mustard Seed Money

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 🙂

FF @ Femme Frugality

We totally do the ornaments on trips thing, too! And I love that sweater. I made mittens and hats a few years ago. Fun and frugal way to give!

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!

Amber tree

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