The Swan Life: October 2016

The Swan Life

The Swan Life: October 2016

Hey readers, its Lucy here again on The Green Swan. Last month’s update was well received so I thought I’d take another stab at it. You can find September’s recap here. This is a fun way to remember some smaller things from our month and to sprinkle in some of the ways we cut back on costs while still enjoying life.

Pumpkin Patch

Our month started out with an obligatory fall activity, visiting the pumpkin patch. We went to the same place as last year. Great thing about this activity is there’s relatively no cost. No entrance fee, most activities are complimentary and we can walk away with a happy little boy and a pumpkin for our front step. Yes, the pumpkins you buy here are not as cheap as say, the grocery store, but it’s worth it. We grabbed a wagon and walked through the patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin. The place even had slides, swings, toy cars, you name it. The perfect combination for a happy, and tired, little boy.

Travel

Unlike September, there was not much travel in October, which we enjoyed. No work trips for me and no bachelor parties for JW (he’s been on two this year!). We did take a trip to visit family in Atlanta over Halloween. Lucky for us we could drive there which is so much cheaper than buying two plane tickets. I also got us some discounted hotel rooms so that cut back on costs as well (I work for a large hotel company which provides some pretty good employee discounts).

Yes, we did dress up in costumes and hit the town. Couldn’t tell you the last time I dressed up for Halloween! We kept our costumes on the cheap side. We dug out some old Oakland A’s jerseys we got back when we lived in San Francisco, bought some A’s hats, eye black and there was our costume! JW’s brother even won a costume contest we stumbled across. He and his wife had the perfect couple costume that didn’t cost them much at all. He was Michael Phelps (complete with swim goggles, a gold medal and zip up hoodie… which he proceeded to remove during the contest and then stretched as if he were preparing for an Olympic race) and she was Michael’s fiancé… or I guess wife now (complete with a baby doll she held in a baby carrier that wore red, white and blue ear muffs). Thank you very much, we’ll take that $50 cash prize! Oh and if you’re wondering where our son was over the weekend, my parents visited and babysat. Hurray for free babysitters!

Birthday

JW’s birthday was in October (cue the Happy Birthday wishes!)He’s not one to enjoy receiving gifts just for the sake of giving them. Instead of buying him a material item, I took him to lunch on his birthday. We work about 4 blocks away from each other, but really never meet up for lunch during the week. This was a treat for us both. What made the lunch even better was that I had a gift card to this nice Tuscan restaurant. There was literally no cost for us. Score!

Family Pictures

We had our family pictures taken this month. It’s that time of year to get a good picture of the three of us to put on the Christmas card. This expense was something I decided a couple years ago was very important to me. Not only are you paying for the photographer, but you’re also paying to purchase the cards online and then postage. I know, it can really add up. The photographer we’ve used for the last three years actually lives near us. I found her through our neighborhood Facebook page and she does a great job. When I reached out to her this year about scheduling a session she said she’d keep the price same as last year for us (her prices had gone up the year before, I think her little business has done well). Great to hear our loyal business brings us some sort of discount. Now to get those pictures back and start on the Christmas card.

London vs. Dublin

This isn’t a big update on our London vs. Dublin decision, but we’ve done a lot of talking about the move and it sounds like London will be our best bet. JW has communicated with a leader in that office and it sounds like we’re more or less just waiting for them to send him an offer. There are things still up in the air (when they would add the new position, where the new person would sit in their small office, start date, etc). It doesn’t sound like there’s a big rush right now, which we’re completely fine with, given our new baby arriving in April. We’ve decided that an ideal situation would be a delivery here in the states, then moving to London a few months later (sooner for JW if he needs to be there to start the job).

House Cleaning

I mentioned that my parents visited us this month to babysit while we were in Atlanta. Prior to their visit we did a complete overhaul of cleaning the house. Always good to have an excuse to do so, huh? It got me thinking more about hiring a maid service to clean and what is our time worth to clean ourselves. There are certain chores the two of us have no problem keeping up with (laundry, dishes, vacuuming, etc.) But others are a pain in the neck (cleaning baseboards, blinds, scrubbing floors, etc.) I was intrigued when I saw a posting about an individual with a small maid service on our neighborhood Facebook page. Just like our photographer for the family pictures, it’s someone who lives in our neighborhood just looking for extra cash. The services include: all floors, bathrooms, kitchen and dusting for $80. Worth it? Maybe, what do you think? I think I would be in favor if we made it a yearly or bi-yearly service.

Blue Apron & Hello Fresh

Have you ever tried Blue Apron? It’s a food delivery service that sends you all the ingredients to make three meals. We were introduced to the food service a couple years ago when we were gifted a free trial. We ordered it, we loved it and we were hooked. Well not hooked enough to buy it every week, but we get it about every 4-6 weeks. It’s a fun way to try new dishes and branch out of our norm a bit. Luckily neither of us are picky eaters so we look forward to trying new flavors (some of the dishes have spices I’ve never heard of so I have no idea how it will taste just by looking at the recipe). We recently got a coupon in the mail to try Hello Fresh, a very similar concept. Hello Fresh sends meals to your doorstop for you to prepare. It was fun to mix things up, but I couldn’t tell you which service I liked better. They’re both great!

That’s basically our October in a nutshell. It seemed to be a fairly ordinary month for us in terms of activities and expenses. Did any of you dress up for Halloween? Win a costume contest? Who loves fall, but is a bit bummed we’ve had such warm temps?

Lucy

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Felicity (@FelicityFFF)

It sounds like you had a wonderful October!

The pumpkin patch in particular seems like a family tradition that’s definitely worth it. 🙂

We’ve actually been recently contemplating maid service. For us, I think we have more of a problem with picking up/being tidy – which maids don’t do. :/

JW

Yes I’d say the pumpkin patch has become a family tradition. It’s heaven for a little boy to be outside with no cares about getting dirty. I totally understand about the tidying up part too. I find myself in the same boat often.
Lucy

Vicki@Make Smarter Decisions

That’s awesome about the Halloween contest fun! I miss the “pumpkin patch” days with our kids 🙂 Time goes by fast so enjoy it! I appreciate your commitment to the family pictures. We haven’t ever had a formal picture done – just not something we value that much (we have lots of nice informal ones though!) Maybe this summer we’ll add that to the list! My son just got his senior pictures done by a friend in his class and they turned out great. We could hire him and keep it “local” and with a young entrepreneur! Looking forward to hearing about your future move!

JW

You’re so right about kids growing so fast! Im definitely the type to take pictures to help remember every stage. The family pictures are the only way I can guarantee JW and I get in the picture too!
Lucy

Apathy Ends

We have had similar conversations on the maid front – specifically for the baseboards and dusting. Even just once a month would make a huge difference.

I am the same on the gift front would rather do lunch than have people guess what to buy me 🙂

JW

Have you ever looked into pricing out a maid service on a monthly basis? I’m curious to hear how my price compares because I’ve never looked into other companies to price check. I would need to look into that more before pulling the trigger, but for now I’m more or less interested in the idea.
Lucy

Mr. SSC

We love hitting fall festivals (no real pumpkin patches around here), although it’s unsettling being at a fall festival in flip flops, shorts, and sweating like mad, go away summer, it’s November!

We do family photos as well, and jsut finally found a good photographer in hosuton that we like. our last one in LA was great, but the first 2 here were swing and a miss. Nothing like having nice family pics documented.

As far as the cleaning service. We still do maids once a month for that same sort of thing. We stay on top of day to days tuff, but man, 2 kids, 2 full time jobs, takes its toll and a cleaning service to alleviate that is worth it to us.

We haven’t tried Blue Apron, but when we were getting veggies from a coop, it was similar in that we aren’t picky eaters, but would get forced to try new things with fennel (we typically don’t buy but now love), arugula (we’d always trade someone for collards, lol), and other things. It was fun having to find new recipes for veggies that we most likely may not buy all the time, and better getting fresh stuff we did like eating. I can understand it being nice to get out of the culinary rut.

Happy birthday to Little Swan!

JW

Your comment made me chuckle because although we have found a good photographer, there’s never a guarantee we’ll get a smile out of our son. We just got them back and not his best smiles, but he’s at least looking at he camera 🙂
Lucy

Mrs. Picky Pincher

Man, I’ve been meaning to go back to a pumpkin patch! It’s probably way more fun if you have kiddos, but I freaking love fall/Halloween/pumpkins.

Hahaha, Mr. Picky Pincher is the same way about his birthday. He always insists on me not getting him a present. So instead we go out for a nice restaurant meal. In fact, his birthday is next week, so we’ll have to figure out where he wants to go! Next Saturday we’re throwing him a “Tin Foil Hat” birthday party because of his obsession with space/aliens.

As far as a maid service, I think it depends. If the hardcore cleaning is good enough and saves you a looooot of work, I think it can be worth it. Especially if you’re low on time but you have the money. We just moved into our first house, so I’m trying to set up a monthly schedule to do deep cleaning. So one month I’ll clean the baseboards and another month I’ll dust the blinds. It probably needs to be done more than that, but I think it’s manageable enough to keep the place clean enough.

As far as the delivery meal plans, I’m not a fan myself. I personally think they’re overpriced for the food that you get. But again, you’re paying to have time returned to you, so there’s a premium on prepared dishes. But if you’re looking to save money, I’d recommend just making these healthy meals at home. Take a look at their website to get meal ideas and make your own versions at home!

JW

Happy (early) Birthday to Mr. Picky Pincher! I will say going the route of a nice dinner in exchange of a gift is great. It’s a way for both of you to enjoy and celebrate. I wish I had a better eye for recipes or meal ideas. Sometimes it comes down to also finding recipes I like and I hate trying ones with tons of ingredients (fish sauce or something along those lines would sit in my fridge for years and I’d never use again). Doesn’t hurt to branch out a bit!
Lucy

Emily @ JohnJaneDoe

Lucy, you guys might want to go with the cleaning service monthly or so if you will need to sell the house in the spring…especially with the little one and little one 2 on the way. That way, when it comes time to get the house ready to show, you’ll be in a much better position. (or at least, it’s a good excuse 😉

We did professional shots with our kiddo one year only (with Santa at Biltmore), but mostly I use candid shots I take all year for our Christmas cards and family calendars. The professional shot was very good, but with a year of pictures to choose from I felt we had plenty of good pictures. My only problem is that this year I didn’t take nearly as many pictures, probably because my Little Bit now has a full 9-4 school day.

Harmony@CreatingMyKaleidoscope

I must admit to being very jealous of anyone with babysitters. We have none. There is a girl down the street who really wants to babysit, but we just worry about leaving her with all three of our crazy kids. One of these days, maybe . . .

We have never done professional family pictures. They always look so nice, but it just seems like such a frivolous expense when we’re trying to pay off debt and I can (and do) take thousands of pictures on my own.

Glad you had a fun October and nice to read another update from you!

JW

Oh I hear ya on the babysitter! We have zero family nearby (my parents are in the Midwest and booked a plane to babysit for us last weekend). We had a great neighbor who babysat a few times, but she moved to California.
Lucy

Jacq

Harmony,
Have you considered a ‘mother’s helper’ role to test the waters? It can be great for an outing when keeping an eye on 3 crazy kids is tough. You’d get to evaluate how she is with the kids, because 1 of you is there the pay rate would be reduced.
My parents did a test run with a play date at out house with the potential baby sitter, which worked out great. I think it was a Saturday afternoon and mom and dad were home, and Elizabeth spent some time playing with each of us, but it also gave my parents time to get some stuff done.
Yet another option if you think 3 kids is too much, could she watch 1 or 2 while you take the others, for example doctors appointment, or a specific shopping trip? As the oldest I found it boring to wait for my siblings, luckily I am a reader, so mom put a book in my hands and I was good.

As for formal pictures, that’s what we gave mom for Christmas a few years ago. My sister’s best friend is an amazing photographer and we went to a local park the last weekend in October. If was fun, mom loved it, and we supported a local artist.

Lastly I dressed up as Abby from NCIS complete with black wig and 6 inch platform boots. 🙂

Kelsey @ Tealmama

Sounds like a busy month! 🙂 Hope you had a wonderful birthday, JW.

I’ve been wanting to try Blue Apron, but haven’t taken the plunge. We have some pretty picky eaters in our family so I’m reluctant. Glad to hear you’ve had great experiences with both Blue Apron and Hello Fresh.

JW

Yes I would recommend giving it a try sometime! Do you know of anyone who buys it regularly? They get free meals to gift out all the time. Try and snag one from a friend 🙂
Lucy

Alexander @ Cash Flow Diaries

I love dressing up for halloween no matter how old I am!! 🙂

This year though we kept it really easy, I was a hunter and my wife was a deer/doe. It actually was a really simple and good costume although I had the easy way out as I already had hunting clothes. My wife had to buy deer ears and put makeup on her face. hehe

Brian @ Debt Discipline

Sounds like a great month. We didn’t take a trip pumpkin picking this year, with three busy teenagers we couldn’t get it schedule. We ended up buying some at Costco. A lot of those things we did when they were younger are beginning to slip away. Enjoy it it goes quickly. My wife dressed up as Cruella Deville!

We have not taken a formal family photo in a few years, but usually manage a family shot a few times a year, on vacation or special occasions. It might be time to have an updated one taken, everyone has changed a lot since the last one.

Have a great November!

JW

Yes it’s always great to update family pictures throughout the year. Especially difficult with three teenagers but so important! I’m cherishing the activities we do with a little one because as you’ve pointed out, they grow up and priorities change.
Lucy

Mr. PIE

With our boys now ages 9 and 7, we no longer do the pumpkin patch thing. Mrs. PIE is an expert with pumpkin carving though in addition to her exquisite cake decorating skills. So the boys have a blast with watching her carve. Our eldest also designed his own ghost and helped to carve it. So even more fun. With winter approaching in NE we are gearing up for our favorite season – ski season. Let it snow!!🌨❄️🌨

JW

Yes that’s a great talent! After scooping the pumpkin out with a restless toddler I was ready to quickly carve and be done with it. Can’t say out pumpkin this year was my best 🙂
Lucy

Dividends Down Under

Great to read another update Lucky! 🙂 Happy birthday JW!

That’s exciting news about the possible move to London, that sounds exciting and daunting all at once. Good luck with whatever you do, I’m sure it will be an amazing experience.

The maid – well, if it’s only half yearly or yearly then I’d say DEFINITELY do it. Helping someone with cash, and you get a really clean house for only $80? What’s not to like about that.

Some of my family do HelloFresh – they like the ingredients and the idea of cooking a new meal all the time. It seems a lot more expensive than your normal supermarket though. I guess it would save time and also very good quality ingredients 🙂

Tristan

Joe

Wow, what a busy October. We didn’t do much this Halloween. Mrs. RB40 was stressed out at work and Jr does not like to dress up. We just skipped the whole thing. Maybe next year… Jr went to the pumpkin patch with his school so that was cool. London sounds great. I think you guys would love it.

Mustard Seed Money

That’s awesome that you are leaning towards London. I think I would definitely lean that way as well if given the choice. I think you all are really going to love living internationally. Keep us updated!!!

JW

Thanks! Yea I think the more we research and think about it, the more we’re looking forward to London. Let’s hope all falls into place and we end up moving!
Lucy

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