My Perfect Birthday

My husband took this photo of me last week on my birthday. We went on one of my favorite hikes and it was an absolutely gorgeous day. The air was clear, the hills were green from all the rain this winter, and there were flowers everywhere. These yellow flowers are coreopsis, and we were lucky to see them because they’re only in bloom a few weeks a year.

The main thing this photo says to me is, “Buy a new hat!” Because even a non-consumer can’t afford to eschew fashion or style entirely. This ugly hat has been featured in far too many pictures, and its days are numbered. I think a visit to REI for an entirely new hat is in order. I don’t want to buy a used hat, there’s too much sweat involved. And I don’t have time to “keep an eye out,” this is an emergency situation.

Aside from the lack of style, my birthday was perfect.

After tea and homemade granola, we drove out to Malibu through the greenest hills I’ve ever seen in Southern California. Our hike was a 5-mile loop through canyons, meadows, fields of flowers, a view of the ocean, and even a pond that had been dried up for the past several years.

Just about the time my feet were getting tired, we came to the end of the hike, when it was time to have dinner at our favorite beachside biker hangout, Neptune’s Net in Malibu. We shared peel ‘n eat shrimp, fried calamari, and a beer, and watched the dolphins swimming by.

On the way home, just as it was getting dark, we stopped at a roadside stand for strawberries (a guy selling them out of the back of his van). I bought 3 containers of local berries for $7, and then he gave me 4 more containers FREE because they were almost overripe.

At home, my husband asked me if I wanted a special birthday drink, but I really just wanted a glass of wine so we opened a bottle of Fess Parker, in honor of the TV-star-turned-winemaker’s recent death (in his 90s).

My husband gave me a card with a simple sentiment so direct and honest it made me cry, and a DVD of Season 6 of The Mary Tyler Moore show (it was our favorite when we were little- we both wanted to grow up and move to the big city).

Then we watched a terrible 1970s comedy. It was great, in that way only really bad films can be.

So, in addition to spending the day with my favorite person, my birthday was studded with so many of my favorite things:

Taylor’s of Harrogate yorkshire gold tea!
homemade granola!
Mary Tyler Moore!

And except for the MTM DVD, it was entirely non-consumer.

Luckily for me, my birthday falls during my favorite season: spring. What are your favorite non-consumer spring activities? Please tell us in the Comments section.


  1. Becky says

    Wow, basically sounds perfect to me! I'm also a spring baby, which I love. I'm a big fan of a springtime walk through the parks in London. On Sunday we walked through Hyde Park to see all of the bulbs in bloom, which are coming up really late here this year due to the cold winter. It was a great morning.

    My husband and I have started to give each other non-material birthday and holiday presents, usually tickets to the theatre or a weekend get-away. I don't know if that "counts" as non-consumer, because we are spending money, but at least we aren't accumulating more junk that neither of us needs!

  2. Angela says

    Becky- London in spring is so gorgeous- we visited once in April, and everything was in bloom, and in the countryside there were baby ducks, lambs, baby everything. We adore London and spent five weeks there two summers ago on a house swap.

    I am a non-consumer, mainly of "stuff," and trips, events, and consumables are all "allowed" because they don't contribute to the whole consumer cycle of "buy, maintain, store, and throw in landfill" (see the Story of Stuff- it's in my sidebar, if you haven't already)

    Thanks for commenting, and have a lovely spring in London!

  3. Cate says

    It sounds like you had a lovely birthday! I'm jealous of your day. :-)

    I love taking walks around our neighborhood in the spring. It's nice to see the flowers coming up and the trees budding.

  4. Laura says

    I loved reading about your birthday! What a truly special day.

    I have a spring birthday as well, but in May and close to Mother's Day so those two days tend to be combined in some form. I love it when the girls and my husband take on all my chores for the day, and let me read, take naps or walks, or whatever else I usually don't have a lot of time for.

    Spring here in Portland tend to be cool and rainy most of the time, so we're still stuck indoors most of the time. But, the farmer's markets are starting back up, gardens are going in, and a non-rainy day is a treat to be enjoyed!

  5. elizabeth carmen says

    Oh, Happy Birthday! And that sounds like a marvelous way to spend it. And I love that the guy selling the berries to you gave you 4 for free. An unexpected birthday present, even!

  6. lala2074 says

    Happy Birthday Angela!

    What a great day that you had.

    Another gift you received was your husband's company and attention ib the day ….

    Non Consumer Girl

  7. Angela says

    Non Consumer Girl- That was the best part- that's why my list says "in addition to spending the day with my favorite person…"

    that's my husband! and he made my day!

  8. Simple in France says

    Fun! We love hiking and picnics. Plus spring is an interesting time to hit botanical gardens or parks.

    Happy Birthday.

  9. Marie-Josée says

    Angela, thanks so much for sharing that photo. I have a similar hat that I don't like either, and it's such an important piece. I agree that a good hat is important and worth the cost of buying new. I will be looking into the Tilley hats: durable and chic. My favourite activity, year round is walking. And I love to see the changes through the seasons. I like to feel the change in the temperature of the air, that warmth and softness that just appears one day,and marks the arrival of spring, like this morning, here in Montreal, Quebec. My son was born in spring and he will be 20 this year, so one of my favourite things is celebrating his birthday with family and friends.

  10. Mrs B. says

    I think your hat looks fine but…If you are looking for a new one there is a company in San Diego called Sungrubbies. They are online too at I would love to go to there store but I live in WA state. I love their sun hats. So lightweight but with full coverage. I am very fair skinned and actually from SoCal originally.

  11. Betsy Talbot says

    Happy Birthday! What a great way to spend your day. Thanks for sharing it with us.

    I'm a hiker as well and love the springtime because of that. We go hiking really early – usually at 6 or 7 in the morning. There are fewer people out then, and we get to see more wildlife that way because they aren't scared off by the noise of people.

    And you hit on my favorite – the after-hike meal! We love going out for breakfast/brunch after a really good hike, and you can usually find great places not too far from the trail heads.

    I'm in the market for a new hat for our trip, so I'll let you know what I find if you'll do the same.

    Again, happy birthday and may you have a year filled with wonder, love, and happiness.

  12. Eleanor says

    Now I feel as though I have celebrated your birthday vicariously! Thanks for the heartfelt post.
    I am really easy to please when it comes to springtime non consumer activities. In three words: Yard and Garden. After a long wet, rainy, dark, damp winter I am thrilled to be cleaning up the yard (lots of pine cones, pine straw in the wrong places, and errant sweetgum balls). Even more I love starting spring veggie and flower gardening.

  13. Angela says

    Thanks so much for all your comments and birthday greetings.

    Everyone's favorite spring activities seem to focus on moving around outdoors- walking and hiking and gardening. Eleanor- thanks for your comment, it will help me when I'm complaining about "cleaning up" the yard of leaves and weeds and debris. It's a chore, but one I should learn to love. Especially when the result is a springtime yard.

  14. RobbieKay says

    Happy belated birthday. Like a few other readers, I actually really liked the hate, too. I was surprised to get to the text and find that you thought it was so horrid. Of course, I'm from the Pacific Northwest, though–not exactly an image-conscious area. :)

  15. Julie says

    Belated birthday greetings, Angela! Although I think the hat looks cute, I understand you wanting a new one when you look at a picture of yourself in it—I have a similar hat and I wear it every day in summer and after seeing it in every photo, it's like "enough already!" I'd rather look like Scarlett O'Hara (I've got the dark hair {well, with some gray "highlights" ;0} and green eyes, but the tiny waist ain't gonna happen) instead of plain ol' me. Thanks to Mrs. B for posting the sungrubbies website, that looks like a great place to start the eternal quest for a hat I could be proud to pose in…

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