Another Birthday Day of Adventures!

by Katy on October 18, 2018 · 40 comments

We celebrated our daughter’s 23rd birthday with yet another Birthday Day of Adventures which included:

  • A trip to Kyra’s Bake Shop for a gluten-free cupcake. However, we splurged on just one for the birthday girl, as they’re $4.75 apiece (plus tip) and I’m too damned cheap for that kind of nonsense indulgence.

  • A foray into the impressively maze-like Cartlandia food cart pod, where my husband chomped down on a bacon cheeseburger while my daughter and I slurped down our Thai noodles. This was my first time to these food particular carts, and I’ll definitely be scheduling a return visit.

  • Admission to Quarterworld, which is a nearby bar-arcade that I’d always assumed was only for 21 and over. (It turns out to be all ages until 8 PM.) Anyway, we went during happy hour, which meant our admissions were a buck apiece, and the three of us happily fed ten dollars of quarters into the video games, pinball machines and Skee-Ball games until our jangly pockets were a distant memory.

    My husband and daughter sipped adult beverages while I enjoyed a refreshing cup of water. (C,mon . . . don’t even pretend to be surprised.)

    My favorite game? The Twilight Zone pinball machine, as Rod Serling and I share the same alma mater. ANTIOCH!

  • We then made our way over to the Academy Theater, where we paid $4 apiece to see the movie Leave No Trace, which was loosely based on a man who’d been secretly raising his daughter in Portland’s own Forest Park. I enjoy a good non-Hollywood blockbuster film, and this one did not disappoint. Lots of food for thought.

    And our movie snacks? Starlight mints, leftover from eating out while in NYC last week. (Thanks, mom!)

  • Our last stop was to Ya Hala, where we indulged ourselves with plates of Lebanese food. I was still full from lunch, so I ordered a bowl of lentil soup, although I do have to say that their hummus was the silkiest ever. I wish I could recreate it at home!

The decision to switch from physical presents to experiential gifts has been an amazing tradition to fold into our family culture. Our birthdays are now fun for all of us, and I love that we’re creating memories instead of clutter.

Want to know how we’ve celebrated past Birthday Days of Adventures? Click any of the links below to see how there’s absolutely no sacrifice when you choose experiences over stuff.

Experience Over Stuff: A Birthday Day of Adventures
Celebrating Birthdays on The Cheap: Experiences Trump Stuff
My Birthday day of Adventures
A 50th Birthday Day of Adventures
It’s Okay to Be Cheap
Eight Frugal Things – Birthday Edition
A Birthday Day of Disappointments
Birthday for a 17-Year-Old Boy
A Day of Birthday Surprises for My 18-year-old son
A Day of Adventures for a 16-Year-Old Boy

I’ve probably have written a few other birthday posts, but since I started this blog in May of 2008, there’s a deep and murky well of content.

Katy Wolk-Stanley    

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Texas Homesteader October 18, 2018 at 11:41 am

We are big on experience gifts as well! Especially Christmas gifts for our grandkids. We had no idea what they had/wanted/didn’t want and were always second-guessing our gifts to them. Now we take them to dinner somewhere, then a live production such as It’s a Wonderful Life or Christmas Story at the actor’s theater, a drive through an amazing array of Christmas lights at the lake, followed by hot chocolate at a nearby restaurant. So. Much. Fun!



Laura October 18, 2018 at 12:40 pm

Yes doing things together brings more joy than the momentary elation’s present brings!
My first post of 5 things
1. DH and I challenged ourselves to an extra week before we brought groceries and of course surprised ourselves at the good food we made from the items we had when we thought we had nothing (you can make a surprisingly good pasta sauce from water, chicken stock and mustard!)
2. Continue carpooling to work with DH even though it means we’re both at work longer because I start earlier and he finishes later
3. Made jam with all the 2nds strawberries that went cheap at the nearby farm – people had already asked if they were getting some for Xmas!
4. working through the house maintenance list (and attempting to do it by ourselves first unless it needs a licensed contractor, yay for YouTube!)because it’s only a valuable asset if it’s maintained
5. I resisted all the impulse shopping I wanted from the ads that pop up in social media – current plan is to let myself click through look at it, take a screenshot and then close it!


Sarah October 18, 2018 at 4:11 pm

When I make hummus, I “pop” all the skins off the chickpeas (pop them off between my fingers). Takes me a good amount of time (20 minutes at least for 1 can) but everyone tells me that I have the silkiest hummus they’ve ever had. Thanks for sharing your families memory-worthy, no-crap, birthday celebrations.


Kristen October 18, 2018 at 6:29 pm

Wow. That is some major commitment!


Katy October 18, 2018 at 7:01 pm

I’ve done that before, which helped. Plus it’s a good excuse to zone out in front of the TV.


Jennifer October 18, 2018 at 7:21 pm

I saw on America’s test kitchen(I think!)that it is necessary to purée hummus in the food processor for a full 5 minutes. They said in other parts of the country, they eat hummus for breakfast in a bowl with a spoon similar to how we eat oatmeal so they have to blitz it for a long time to get it really smooth. Thought it was worth mentioning..


Jennifer October 18, 2018 at 7:24 pm

Not country…other parts of the world is what I meant. I need to go to bed, lol


Allison October 18, 2018 at 4:51 pm

Happy Birthday to your daughter. I wonder if you could press your hummus through a mesh sieve to work on the texture? It’d be an extra step, but they tend to use them a lot on Bon Appetit.


Katy October 18, 2018 at 7:00 pm

That’s a good idea. I think I’ll try that next time.


janine October 18, 2018 at 6:43 pm

My son asked for the same major gift as last year. Tickets to a major league basketball game – we got them at Costco at a discount and he said they were good seats. This is the gift he remembered – going with his dad to the game.


Jennifer October 18, 2018 at 7:12 pm

Experience gifts are unforgettable. We aren’t celebrating any birthdays here but since we haven’t celebrated any of our anniversaries for a few years I got some very cheap flights to Las Vegas. My husband and I are planning a trip there soon. I can’t wait! I have already booked our room through air bnb. This is the first time I have used this service so I’m excited to try it out. I am researching all the free things to do and cheap eats. I want to drive to the Grand Canyon while we are there but am not sure if it’s worth the drive due to our limited time in the area. Any insight would be greatly appreciated!! We also rented a car for $7 per day for more freedom to explore. Our air bnb is not right on the strip so cabs or ubers weren’t feasible. Also, has anyone had any luck not checking a bag? I plan to carry a set of clothes in my carry on with my bare necessity essentials. Since it’s cooler now, I will wear a shirt with a hoodie over top and pants with leggings underneath on the plane. This will be a total of 3 outfits and we will have a washer/dryer so I can wash if I need to. I am also carrying a jacket on the plane. We don’t really buy souvenirs so I wouldn’t be bringing much back. I don’t mind paying extra for a small suitcase but don’t want to if I don’t need it. My husband and I are known for our minimalist travel.


Ave October 19, 2018 at 4:11 am

Years ago, I took only a small duffel bag (small enough to be considered a carry-on) when I went to Europe. I managed to fit four light weight outfits, a journal, camera, and toiletries in the bag and still had room for some small souvenirs. I wore a lightweight jacket on the plane It was one of the best trips ever because the bag was easy to carry and I did not have to deal with checking bags at the airport.


Jennifer Byars October 19, 2018 at 8:22 am

That’s what I was thinking. I have a list of what I need to carry and it will fit in a small bag. Just don’t want any airport problems.


Jennifet October 19, 2018 at 8:34 am

That’s what I was thinking. I have a list of essentials and will all fit into a small bag. Just don’t want any airport issues. ****I already posted this response once but I can’t see it so this may be a repeat…if so, sorry


Bee October 19, 2018 at 4:26 am

The Grand Canyon is a 5-6 hour drive from Las Vegas. It is hard to make this trip in just one day. However, it is an absolutely amazing sight. I encourage you to stay a day and hike if you go. There are also tours of many types that can be booked from Vegas. Bryce Canyon is nearby, but not on route to the Grand Canyon.


Jennifer October 19, 2018 at 8:26 am

I hadn’t heard of Bryce Canyon, I will look into that. It does seem like a long way to drive for a day trip. I was thinking of driving over, spending the night(found a super cheap airBNB there), watching the sunrise and heading back to LV the next morn. Thanks Bee!


Katrina October 21, 2018 at 7:28 am

Bryce Canyon is beauiful (it’s in Utah) but I think it would be a lot of drinking from Vegas and back again. You would be better off staying more local. Hoover dam is pretty cool.


Katrina October 21, 2018 at 7:29 am

Driving –

Christine October 19, 2018 at 5:51 am

When we were in Las Vegas we rented a car and drove to see some of the sights in the surrounding area. One of the more memorable ones was Mt. Charleston. There is an auto road that goes up about 9,000 feet of the 14,000 to the peak so there is no hiking involved unless you want to. The views are amazing and so different to this born and bred New England girl.


Jennifer October 19, 2018 at 8:31 am

Oh, that sounds amazing. If we decide the Grand Canyon is too far, we may go there. I’m so excited to see sunrises and sunsets in the area. Thank you all so much for taking the time to help me out!!!


Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life October 19, 2018 at 8:31 am

I’ve only traveled carry-on only when traveling alone for a single night away but my friend Tanja at Our Next Life wrote great tutorials for doing it on longer trips:
and Part 2:


Jennifer October 19, 2018 at 1:34 pm

Oh wow, good info…thanks!


Eileen October 19, 2018 at 8:45 am

Hi you can get to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas intwo hours !!! It will ether Grand Canyon on the Indian reservation. They have a skywalk where you can walk out over the canyon. It is amazing. Look up Grand Canyon sky walk


Diana Roberts October 20, 2018 at 6:01 am

The Red Rock Canyon area north of Las Vegas is gorgeous & the Valley of Fire area is not to be missed. Bryce is awesome, but Zion (even closer than Bryce) has great trails & it very beautiful. I’ll be in Vegas in December meeting up w/ high school & college pals. I avoid the strip & downtown, because there are so many other amazing things to see!


Bethany October 18, 2018 at 7:32 pm

Eating down the freezer to make room for a couple free turkeys.

Bought Mucinex 2 years ago, and still able to use it because I checked dates before I bought it.

Eating leftovers today

Sold a group of books on eBay

Used swagbucks coupons on Annie’s Mac n cheese and avocados


Cindy in the South October 19, 2018 at 5:02 am

Happy birthday to your daughter! 1. I went to the thrift store and purchased a couple of suits for $7 a piece. 2. I have been eating mashed potatoes, peas, various bean and rice soups/ combos, sardines, homemade tomato soup made from The Tightwad Gazette recipe etc. all from my pantry. I am having to help out my kid who is ill again so I have tightened up, food wise. 3. I wore thrifted clothes all week. 4. I have cut the air off for the year. That will save even more on the electric bill. 5. I did my own nails.


Jennifer October 19, 2018 at 8:37 am

Sorry to hear your kid is sick again…hugs


Cindy in the South October 19, 2018 at 10:40 am



Christine October 19, 2018 at 6:23 am

Wishing your daughter a Happy Birthday!
1. Last weekend was Homecoming for 3 of our teenage grandchildren. It turned into a fun and free weekend for us. We watched our oldest granddaughter play volleyball, had a delicious lunch free and prepared by the school kitchen with her, her brother, family and friends, then scooted over to youngest granddaughter’s school to watch her cheer at the football game. We happened to get there at halftime which meant no admission fee.
2. Still getting raspberries from our yard.
3. I purchased a lovely jacket at the consignment store for $4 for an upcoming wedding.
4. Still continuing to be part of the painted rock movement which has double benefits besides being free fun. The painting itself has a meditative effect on me and the actual act of hiding the painted rocks requires walking/hiking.
5. Listening to the library CD ” Breakfast With Buddha.” Love it!


Amanda October 19, 2018 at 7:36 am

I love your birthday day of adventures idea. Our kids are small right now, and our business makes it hard to take days off. But one day when they are older and the business is more established, who boy, we are going to have some adventures!


Alison October 19, 2018 at 7:52 am

I’m totally going to do this for my birthday in March. We usually go for lunch or dinner, but I’m going to drag the fam around for the day doing what I want to do! I’m sure they’ll love the idea too.


Vickey October 19, 2018 at 7:54 am

1. Used a store coupon to save 20% on organic items.Organic food is one place we’re willing to spend more – cost-effective if not initially cost-competitive.
2. Read free books downloaded to my phone while camping in the best state park in the U.S.
3. Signed up for and received my NYPL card. Thank you, whoever it was that posted here about it! (And to Katy for hosting this site.) Found out I can also watch free videos via using said card. Check it out, y’all!
4. DH harvested the last of the summer veggies from the garden – peppers palooza! Also ground cherries, Romano beans, +. There are hardy greens still standing, for harvesting November-January (w/protection). I peeled the tomatillos and threw them in the freezer, we’ll make green salsa in a few weeks when other things are calmer.
5. DH brought home another load of free firewood after work, given to him by the customer/friend. There’s another truckload or two he’ll pick up after work next week from another friend when he’s near their home for work.
6. I needed a warm coat I wouldn’t mind getting dirty for a basement project. I was able to make use of an older coat that is no longer too small. (And when I was cold, tried to remember that meant I had an opportunity to burn more calories.)
7. Frugal auto-pilot: buying in bulk, cooking from scratch, eating planned-overs for lunch, using up what’s on hand, consolidating errand runs, etc.
Frugal fail: left a pot of cooked rice in the Instant Pot overnight and had to throw it out. I may have been cutting sleep too short to catch up on other things. Must re-think that approach.


Teresa Young October 19, 2018 at 7:56 am

1 – Instead of succumbing to fast food, I bought a rotisserie chicken at Wegmans for $4.99 – the leftovers are becoming a pot of soup as I type.
2- sold a knitting machine on ebay
3- enjoying my borrowed library books & books on CD
4- gathering donations for Goodwill this weekend
5- free exercise – raking leaves!


Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life October 19, 2018 at 8:23 am

I think the experience gifts instead of birthday parties are a great idea and we adults embrace it fully. But for the young ones, as some new friends have done, we may allow a couple more birthday parties and then offer a trade of either a family adventure or a birthday party. Kid parties are ridiculous! One of the most well organized and clean local playrooms charges $650 for a two hour party O_O I am boggled. I’ve never spent that much on any adult party and that includes PiC’s big 40th feeding a large group of dear friends.

It’s a really good business for the playrooms!


ouvickie October 20, 2018 at 6:33 am

Those party room costs are crazy. I rented one a few years back at an Arcade/Gameroom for my Grandson’s 18 birthday. They provided everything for 10 kids including tokens for the rides and games. I think it was $200. I told him that was a one-off thing, since he was turning 18 and it was his graduation year from HS.
I can’t do it anymore, way too expensive. It’s a boon for the people that own those businesses, since there are plenty of people that willingly spend the money to do it every year, though.


Vickie Allen October 19, 2018 at 9:48 am

That sounds like a fun one! I want to see that movie. I think I saw it advertised on Amazon Prime.
My grandson’s birthday is in 10 days. So far, I have a camo hat for him and plan to get him a GC for Gamestop – his favorite gaming place. I only buy GCs for him at Christmas and on his birthday an limit it to $50. He’s pretty good at picking out used games and then trades them in later. I may offer to take him to a movie, too, if he has one he wants to see.
Not a frugal month here, since hubby didn’t make much in commission last month. So, I’ve been shopping with my Library card, as usual.
1) I just finished and turned in one book and now I’m on a large biographical volume about Ulysses S. Grant. I love history books.
2) I found hair color on sale for $2.97, so I’ll be coloring my hair this weekend.
3) Hollar had a reinforced Belkin charging cord for less than $3, so I bought one. It should last much longer than the ones provided by Apple – I wrapped the cord in tape, where it was cracking, but I don’t like to take chances on it starting a fire, when plugged in.
4) Eating frozen entrees for lunch and found the caramel rice cakes stocked again, at Smart Saver. I slather PB on the rice cakes for breakfast. The caramel rice cakes are only 50 calories. Makes for a yummy breakfast, or even a treat later in the day and the rice cakes are cheap. One back lasts for over 2 weeks.
5) I bought some garlic hummus at Aldi last weekend and a bag of carrots. That’s been my supper for the last two evenings, since hubby works late and I don’t cook during the week.


Marilyn October 19, 2018 at 12:22 pm

I love biographies too. I really liked the “Grant” book. I was impressed with how he dealt with numerous struggles in his life.


ouvickie October 20, 2018 at 6:39 am

So far, I’m only on disc 6 of the first volume. It’s really interesting to find out about all the struggles he faced. I was surprised to find out he married someone who was a slave owning Southerner, since he was raised by fierce abolitionists.
I enjoy reading biographies. Our perception of people can be so skewed by propaganda. It’s refreshing to find that our heroes are common people with everyday struggles, like us.


Marybeth October 20, 2018 at 1:50 pm

Sounds like an amazing birthday for her.


parabens October 25, 2018 at 9:07 pm

really amazing birthday thanks for sharing


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