As many of you with January birthdays know, it can be a tough month to have a birthday. I tend to be recovering from Christmas both on an energy level and a financial level when it's time for my daughter's birthday. She turned 10 yesterday.
By the time we ring in the new year on December 31st and get the children back to school on the 4th, we are really scrambling to put together her birthday. Add the fact that three of us were sick this year left us with a procrastination mess.
When it comes to birthday and Christmas presents we lean more to retail presents rather than thrifted. They often get something small nearly every weekend from a yard sale. On Saturday I picked up eight pieces of clothing (gap, H&M, Children's Place) for Cerys that cost me $8.00. She's aware of the difference of the thrifted dollar versus the retail dollar so splurging a few times a year in the retail world is a special treat. In order to stick within our budget and our frugal ethics I do try to find quality items on sale. This year I hit the Hanna Andersson sale on December 29th and picked up tights ($8), organic pajama's ($20), a hoody ($20) and some leggings ($12) all for drastically reduced prices. It's not often they receive clothing with original tags attached.
She wanted to go somewhere grand for her birthday like six flags. She was also interested in going ice-skating and even threw in the idea of going to Traintown. Yet with Cerys still on the mend from being sick and the fact that we were very conscious of our money so close to Christmas we asked her what a dream day would be. It turned out that she wished for her best friend Arah (and family) to come over for lunch, eat cake, play board games all afternoon, share a dinner together and finish off with the opening of presents. I loved the simplicity of her ideal day.
It's the kind of birthday that I could handle both financially and energy wise. She asked for a chocolate cake and I gave her this based on our favorite pancake mix; Pamela's.
This caked is just smothered in the richest icing that I have ever tasted let alone made. The entire cake was incredible and the recipe very simple. You don't even realize that the cake doesn't have a crumb of gluten in it. I used three cups of her pancake mix for this recipe. I buy Pamela's mix at Amazon and have a 6 month subscription which lets me buy 3, 64-ounce bags for $11.33 each. This automatically arrives every six months. This is the best price that I have been able to find. For those in Sonoma County, Pamela is based up in Ukiah and I would consider it local.
For lunch I served seaweed wraps with wild smoked salmon (from Costco), avocados (organic and on sale for .99 cents each) with olive oil & sea salt. To accompany the wraps I made a large bowl of coleslaw.
While we were planning to play games all afternoon, the children decided it would be more fun to kick around the soccer ball and rollerblade for a couple hours. The adults didn't mind this one bit as we sat around the table drinking wine and enjoying conversation which led to quite a bit of laughter. (post holiday stress release maybe?)
The cake was so filling that our dinner plans changed to a simple bowl of brown rice, green onions and tamari sauce. Cerys opened her gifts and we said our "thank yous" and "goodbyes" to our friends. Cerys was all smiles when she went to bed. A truly happy girl having experienced a soulful and unbeknownst to her, a frugal birthday. I found with Cerys merely being around people who cared for her was equally as good as renting a bouncy castle or heading to an amusement park. And as a family we saved a lot of money by keeping it simple.
***thank you for all your comments on Friday's post. I plan to spend part of my workday going through each one and taking note of your preferances and sending you each a reply with my thanks****