Last Saturday after Thanksgiving, we headed out for our second annual trip to a tree farm outside of Sequim to get our Christmas tree. Since we live in a more urban area, there aren’t many tree farms to choose from close by, and even those are a good 45+ minute drive from us, so we’ve chosen to make a day of it and go a bit farther instead.
In previous years, we’ve walked our tree home from the pop up tree stand at the gas station around the corner, but the last two years have been way more fun. This year, A Purple Life joined us for the day, and we got to take her on a trip to her very first tree farm experience, plus we spent a bit of time in Sequim afterward listening to music before their tree lighting ceremony.
You know how I’ve mentioned that we love traveling on the ferries after Labor Day weekend because it’s off season? Well, apparently we aren’t quite at off season yet because even returning home Saturday afternoon was a 1-2 hour wait for the ferry. Yuck. I realize it was a holiday weekend, but in the past, as long as you returned on a Saturday, you were fine. Perhaps that is no longer.
Friday’s Frugal Five
1. Black Friday this year was again not spent shopping, but this year we did spend some money, unlike last year. A friend joined us and we spent the day in Woodinville exploring some of the breweries, distilleries, and wineries they have. The town is only a 15-20 minute drive from our house, and is reasonably accessible via bus, but the schedule is truncated on holidays and it’s still a bit of a walk after getting off the bus, so we drove this time.
When we went with Budget Epicurean back in May, the weather was lovely, the buses were running their regular schedule, and we didn’t have a big dog with us. Both trips were great, but it did mean that I got to be designated driver this time around and got to sample very little. It also meant we spent less as well, except for the bottle of port we brought home for another night.
We may not have spent any money on things on Black Friday, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t any better or more righteous than people did. If you had a plan, spend money on things you would have otherwise, or spent money on things you will truly enjoy and won’t break the bank, I have no beef with the people who do go shopping on Black Friday. For me though, Black Friday shopping has generally just been an excuse for buying excessive things that I would not have bought full price. Not a good reason.
Also, there are plenty of people who can only afford a few luxuries if they do shop on Black Friday. There were years where I made considerably less than I do now, and those sales felt like a Godsend to be able to buy a few extra gifts or niceties than I would have been able to otherwise. And even then, I still never worried about how to pay the basics.
Black Friday shaming is awful, and it needs to stop. That said, it sucks that the consumerist bit has continued to take over more and more time, taking away people from their families when they would rather not be at work. (Then again, I was all about working Black Friday the year I was employed at Petsmart, because it meant I got more hours that week and time and a half pay felt like I had won the jackpot. So again, nothing is as simple as black-and-white like we would prefer it to be).
2. We bought a significantly larger Christmas tree this year, and it turned out we needed an extra string of lights, so we set off to walk to the drug store on Sunday when we figured out the deficiency. On our way to the store, we stopped to drop a bag of our son’s hand me down clothes for our neighbor’s son (Success! Didn’t have to go through the explanation process of letting go of his things this time either).
Our neighbors were watching the Seahawks football game and had invited another neighbor down for brunch and extended the welcome to us, so after our trip to the store, we went to their house to watch the rest of the game. That turned into an extended brunch that then turned into a dinner where we all pooled our Thanksgiving leftovers as well as the oxtails we’d had simmering in the crockpot back at home.
We ended up not heading home until bedtime, and we still haven’t finished decorating our tree. Totally worth it for another great day with our neighbors, and there’s nothing better than just having to walk up the hill home after a party that isn’t at your own home.
And one of the kids found this neat little guy in the woodpile:
3. We will be making gingerbread houses with the same neighbors and one of the kids can’t do artificial dyes, so I headed over to Whole Foods to pick up decoration candies that were made with just natural coloring. Once I looked at the prices, I decided to head over to the Trader Joe’s in the same complex and see if I could find supplies there instead. I could, and they were half the price for larger servings. Whole Foods might have a great selection, but I’ll take the prices at Trader Joe’s any day.
4. I’ve continued to eat oatmeal with banana for lunch regularly during the week instead of picking food up. Not the most exciting meal, but it’s quick, cheap, and reasonably healthy. Another bonus is that it’s a meat free meal, which I’m trying to do more of. Instead of trying to go vegetarian for full days at a time, I’m doing a pretty good job (about half the time) of just eating meat once a day, usually at dinner, and in smaller portions.
5. I’ve had eleven no spend days for the month of November (twelve if I can make it today and finish off the month with a no spend day). I’d have one more, but I picked up the cost of dinner for my family Wednesday night. My parents will generally pay when we go out to eat and never expect us to pay, even now that we’re grown, but it feels good to pay our share now and then (usually when I’m sneaky and pay before they realize I’ve done it).
My grandmother was out of town for the past month with my aunt, who lives in another state, and my son was so excited to have his Grammy back that we ended up staying at their house all evening, well past dinner time. They have such a special relationship, and I’m so glad they get to spend so much time together.
I had absolutely no time on Monday (work ran longer than anticipated), but I still squeezed in a 10 minute “run” on the elliptical in the work gym. It meant I also worked out in my regular clothes since I didn’t even have time to change, but it was so worth it to get some time in instead of nothing.
Since I picked the kiddo up a little bit early on Tuesday to get him his flu shot, he ended up falling asleep in the car on the way home. He was still napping when my husband got home a bit later, so I quickly left the house and got in a longish 45 minute run around the neighborhood. Of course, it poured on me halfway through, so my hands mostly went numb and I looked like a drowned rat.
Next time, I’ll pay a bit more attention to the weather forecast and wear a hat and a waterproof jacket. Regardless, it was a high anxiety day for me, and the run really helped even in the pouring rain. I so appreciate a husband who understands when I need some extra time for a run even after he’s had an extra long day at work.
Wednesday I fit in a short run as well as has been usual as of late now that I haven’t had the chance to do my long runs to work, but I ALSO hopped back on the elliptical for a short bit Thursday afternoon, again in work clothes just like Monday. That’s worked better than I would have expected (as long as I keep the workout short and not a run – no running shoes or pants – and I think I’ll try and continue that in the future, even if I look a bit odd doing it).
How was your week back after Thanksgiving? Any great frugal wins to share? I always love hearing them!