Confessions of a cheap date!

I don’t ordinarily indulge in applying such a common word to describe myself, but in our home, it is a term of endearment. Jay frequently remarks that I’m a “cheap date.”

Often he asks if I’d like to go out to dinner, and I’ll respond that I’m fine with eating in. I like to cook.  We go to the movies on bargain night, or much more often, enjoy staying in. Streaming a movie is fine with me. I enjoy using the library and can spend hours just pouring through the stacks.

And very often I’ll plan a time for us to be outdoors, which to me, can be the equivalent to a vacation without a price tag.

Simple pleasures help me breathe lighter.

Perhaps that is why, in part, I cringed just a bit after reading some of the comments associated with my last post  written about Saturday’s outdoor hockey game at Dodger Stadium. Almost immediately it became obvious that I’d given the impression that I was watching the game from the stadium.

I was actually watching at home, blogging with laptop in tow. When the misinterpretation of events became clear to me I was quite uncomfortable. Then I had to think about it for awhile. Why did it bother me? Yes, many people responded that the event itself was “ridiculous” and made it clear they didn’t see much value in the transformation of ball park to ice hockey rink.

But why was it important to me that no one think I had actually spent a good “hunk of change” on the event?

I have been sitting with the question for a couple of days and I think I have the answer. It’s because spending that amount of money on something that I had clearly stated I didn’t even enjoy isn’t congruent with who I am.

The activities that make me happiest generally do not cost a thing!

I am a little all over the place in what I choose to post about, but I think in the next few weeks I’m going to concentrate on posts that emphasize how many things there are to do and enjoy that require little more than time and enthusiasm.

Take a look at just a few of the places and creatures that I find delightful and satisfying. These are Southern California winter scenes, but there is natural beauty everywhere–even in snow and ice. And what joy–admission is free!

 Where do you like to go when you need to let some air out of your tires? Are you also a cheap date?

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Henry David Thoreau

81 thoughts on “Confessions of a cheap date!

    • I accidentally let my comment go off already. I meant to add that your pictures are very beautiful and I also want to say that I reckon I am probably a rather ‘cheap date’ too. As far as seeing is concerned, I noticed that I sometimes see certain things only after I have taken a picture of what I see. Sometimes accidentally something gets into the picture that I had not noticed when I actually took the picture. And then, surprise, surprise, I see it in the picture without really having seen it before. My eyesight is not the best, so some pictures I take without really being aware of all the things that may be in the picture I am taking. But ;of course I am not totally blind. Of some of the things, I take a picture of, I am very much aware!

      • I also see things differently because of the camera, Uta. I noticed that when I began blogging and using the camera for that purpose my awareness increased significantly. You’re so right. It probably also correlates to the fact that in order to spend more time with photography I need to slow down and pay attention. I wonder how many wonderful sights and experiences I have missed over my lifetime because I tend to hurry! So that’s important to me at this time in my life. I’m glad you understand the “cheap date” reference. :-)

  1. Love those pictures Debra. And I fully understand what you mean. To answer your question – I’m afraid I’m a cheap date too! I love walks near the river or up in the woods, and am so happy when I have time for that. Even better, a picnic on a meadow where there is nothing but nature all around… I find eating out stressful most of the time, and since I enjoy cooking I much prefer to spend time in the kitchen too. The only time I’d like to go out for an evening would be if a favourite band was playing – but with our old doggie at home we’re even happy to forego that for another couple of years! ;-)

    • I just love your comment about your dog, Cathy. This has been true for us lately, too, and I laugh every time I realize that cut our time short somewhere or even decide to stay home because I think “Zena is going to miss us.” She’s only been a part of our family since September, but I find myself thinking about ways to include her in our adventures, and that’s limiting. Haha! I like the vision I come up with of you picnicking on a meadow. That would be lovely. I think you have more open space around you than I do on an ordinary day, but I do know how to find it! Do share some pictures of your “old doggie” sometime–maybe in your beautiful garden. :-)

  2. I consider myself a semi cheap date after reading your post. :) Phil and I love to be around nature and water and that is where we relax 9 out of 10 times, even in the winter. I do have a weakness which is to eat out about once a week. Loved your photos!

    • Eating out isn’t a no-no, Marie! I like the “semi cheap date” comment. You made me laugh. There’s nothing that is off the table for any of us to do and enjoy if we can. I began to think about it differently when I considered that I wouldn’t have opted to pay a big price tag to sit in a crowded stadium and cheer on a hockey team, but there were 50,000 who really enjoyed themselves! If it was great fun for them, that’s wonderful. I would rather do something else, and so often, that includes time that doesn’t require any extra pennies! Enjoy eating out…of course we do, too, but often I am so glad to be home, I’d just prefer to stay put! :-)

  3. Debra… I’m like you, actually more so… a cheaper date you will not find… I can’t enjoy a steak dinner at a restaurant where I’m paying R 140 for the main meal… for that price I can buy sufficient of the same meat from the butcher, prepare it myself and feed a family of six… 4 adults and 2 kids… I love to cook and try out new things I think up… I love sport but will rather watch it on TV than go to the field, my holidays are cheap places where I can walk, enjoy the surrounds and take photos… The only habit I have that could be expensive is my Golf, but as a past Chairman of the Turf Managers Association I play at most places for nothing… Linda and I are semi retired and our business is new and has yet to grow, so money is carefully spent, yet we find a lot to do that costs nothing… I’m not a lover of hotels etc give me a camp in the bush any time….

    • I don’t want to sound critical of anyone else and there are times when we, too, splurge a bit and indulge in activities that require “higher financing.” But, for me, it just wouldn’t involve athletics! :-) I have enjoyed your camping posts, Rob. You have a real adventure in your “great outdoors” that people from my country pay a small fortune just to visit! If I were with you I would have to dig deep to put my “money” where my mouth is…I’m not sure I’m up to camping in the bush! That’s REAL camping. :-)

  4. No worries, I figured that you didn’t go to the game but I understand you when you say you are concerned about what impression you give.
    I see walk s as a mini holiday, time out from the ordinary and everyday. Inn fact we’re off out now with 2 dogs and the snow shoes!
    Have a super day x

    • Your adventures in the snow sound very liberating, Claire! I hope the dogs have fun, too, even if they don’t have snow shoes to keep their little pads warm. :-) I think my concern about impression wasn’t as much as self-consciousness about money spent, goodness knows I’ve spent it other ways, but because I wouldn’t be inclined towards a hockey game extravaganza. The most that came out of it was a little mental inventory about what I would like to put on my calendar as this year kicks off! I have a few very fun, cost-less, things I’m planning to do that are new and exciting for me anyway. Half the time the excitement is in the planning! :-)

  5. I’m with you on this one. I’d much rather eat in than out but that said, I’m extremely unsociable so that could have something to do with it! I’ve discovered that the things I pay the most to see are usually the things least worth seeing. Nature is the greatest gift, and it’s free :-)

    • The natural world is so worth exploring, isn’t it, Eleenie? Do you really see yourself as extremely unsociable? I wonder if you are really an introvert and people and social circumstances just take a lot out of you. That is what is true for me. I do enjoy others, but I need a lot of time alone or at least quiet in order to keep pace with such a loud and busy world. :-) Thank you for adding your voice. ox

    • Thank you, John. If I could arrange my time even better I would have someplace new every day that would nourish my soul. If I can get out an “explore” I am content! I can complicate things as well as anyone, but my best days are very simple. :-)

  6. I enjoy a good experience. And the best experiences have been outside, with people, or at home (mine or others), with people. Our costs usually include food. Or the travel expense to get from here to there or there to here. I’d rather lay about the house with the kids climbing around and being free to play. I don’t see any of us as ‘cheap’ per say. Our values seem pretty wealthy to me. ;)

  7. yes, guilty as charged, definitely cheap in the wealthy way! I walk on the beach or sit on the eastern deck overlooking the lily pond, today we were a bit tired and stressed with a few things, so we went for a swim … something like that always helps, and it is free!

    • Oh Christine! You didn’t even need to tell me this! LOL! I already knew you were a cheap date. hahahaha! I love reading your blog and following along on your adventures, because each and every one appeals to me so much. ox

  8. No judgments on your spending habits from this quarter. Some friends recently offered us a pair of tickets to a hockey game, so I assumed that someone couldn’t go to the one you wrote about and offered you the tickets, and in the interests of good journalism you accompanied your spouse. And by the way, We went out to supper with my Best Person (“Gildara”) on Sunday evening. I told them about your neat blog entry; later, when we were getting up to leave, I glanced up at the TV screen over our table and noticed snow falling on the Rangers rink. I was so excited! I pointed it out to E.g. and Glenda, and the camera panned out for a shot of the stadium set-up.

    Can’t wait to hear more on Outdoor California. Someday we’ll travel there, I promise! (The top-left corner of Oregon will have to do for now.)

    • Thank you for such a thoughtful response. It’s true that had we been offered the hockey tickets I would have gladly participated. I rarely turn down an invitation. I have friends who are offered a ticket or invitation to accompany someone on a mini-adventure and if it doesn’t fit squarely with their particular interests they will decline. I have never related well to that response. There is always something interesting to observe. Had I attended the hockey game I would have enjoyed being outdoors, and observing what others were eating. LOL! That’s one of my arena hobbies–seeing what people eat.

      I do have a few things I’m eager to do this spring, and I’ll be sure to share photos, hopefully further enticing you to come a little further south. I think I missed my calling as a tour guide. I would have been a good one for my enthusiasm alone. :-)

      • You’d make an EXCELLENT tour guide. I know this from hearing E.g.’s tales about the tour company she works for. Enthusiasm, people-personness, intelligence, an interest in everything, willingness to research a subject, and facility in clearly presenting it — you’ve got it all. Tour guiding being a seasonal pursuit around here, most of the guides working at E.g.’s company are retired… and most of them used to be school teachers.

    • That’s our tortoise, Darwin, Kathy. I am not sure if I have talked about him since we began visiting each other. I will be sharing more from time to time. He has his own fan club with readers. It’s so funny, but when I talk about Darwin, my stats just soar. :-) Home-bodies is a wonderful term…I think because of work and travel to see grandchildren I’m not home enough, which is why when given the option, that’s what I want to do! After seeing photos of your wonderful home, I wouldn’t leave it either! ox

  9. While reading your hockey story, the cost of attending the event didn’t enter my mind because I knew the focus of the post … well, and I know that attending events like this are expensive … just look at the Super Bowl prices! Nonetheless, your focus was on the uniqueness of the event in your city, thus a fantastic post. By the way, those who typically complain about prices for events are ones who don’t go …. but they may have extravagances elsewhere in life. Meanwhile, and more importantly, carry on being you! :)

    • Thank you, Frank. I do agree with you that what we spend on entertainment is all relative to what we enjoy. I’ve spent a pretty penny on musical theater, but can’t imagine spending a couple of hundred dollars on any sporting event! :-) I am glad you caught the focus of the the “report.” I was really amazed at how uncomfortable I felt…I may need to think about that some more. LOL! Or let it go…hahaha!

  10. I agree with you – the best things in life are the free simple pleasures. My favorite soul-refreshing activity is a hike in the woods, and I’ve always loved camping there too. The feelings of serenity and – I don’t know how to explain how all-encompassingly enriching it is for me – that I get are immeasurable and can’t be bought for any price. The beach is okay, but only during “off season” when there are no crowds or tourists, but it doesn’t come close to the pure, clean energy I find in the woods. My ideal life would be lived in a charming cottage by a rippling stream with woods on the other side and a wildflower garden I could plant and tend. Very simple, complete perfection for me. On another note, I love your photos!

    • I hope you have many opportunities to spend in the woods! It’s clear that you really find the time replenishing, and that’s what we need. I am usually looking for what will lighten the daily load. We all accumulate stress just by nature of our daily responsibilities, even when life is going smoothly! Your ideal setting of the cottage by a stream, complete with wildflower garden, sounds idyllic. Maybe that is something to shoot for down the line. :-) Thank you so much for adding your voice, my friend.

  11. I am an “any kind of date” as long as I don’t have to get super dressed up — no high heels for me! I like playing music in the living room, browsing through the library, swimming in the Berkeley Marina, walking through farmers’ markets. But if someone wants to take me out for good food, a concert, a movie I’m up for it.

    • I think being comfortable and more casual is more my style, too, Sharyn. I think it’s very nice to “get out” once in awhile to a concert or a good movie–I love musical theater and have a few favorites–but so often we’re really responding to restlessness more than a clear interest. I think as Jay and I move towards retirement we’re also looking at resources quite differently! :-) It’s a good thing we enjoy simple things, or we might feel deflated that we can’t keep pace with some of the excesses we’ve enjoyed in the past. I hope you’re doing well, Sharyn. It’s good to hear from you and I like the sound of the swimming in the Marina! That sounds very appealing.

    • I completely agree about the therapeutic benefits of spending a day in nature. I so often head out to a park or botanical garden with a problem I’d like to solve, and come home with everything sorted! :-) I don’t hike in our local mountains very often, but regret that I didn’t establish that pattern much earlier in my life. Now, at an age when maybe I should think twice, I’m very motivated and searching out the “bunny slopes.” LOL! Thanks for adding your “go to” activities. I am definitely in your camp on this!

  12. I for one enjoyed the post just for what it was. The idea of building an ice rink outdoors in California is not only interesting but it also goes to show the marvels of engineering. :)

    • Thank you, Karen. The engineering of the event was what caught my attention, too. I didn’t care at all about what they did ON the ice, but to take on such an improbably project in the first place impressed me. My husband always says, “look at all those good union jobs.” LOL! So I’m never disagreeable about the employment opportunities and economy boost. I support local theater and attend as many performances as I can manage, although I’m fairly economical in that pursuit, too, so that I can attend more events. But on average, I’m still a cheap date! hahaha!

  13. Oh, Debra, you might know that I am the “poster” gal for cheap dates! Just this Sunday, I mentioned to a friend (and minister) that we had celebrated our 40th anniversary last spring. “How exciting. Where did you go?” There was a brief look of surprise when I said Starved Rock, for the night.

    Sometimes, just a walk around the property here clears my head and solves my problems. I love a walk in the woods, visiting a garden center or arboretum, and, then, there is always the scarf department at Nordstorms. Something about scarves and silk and their beauty is all I need for a pick-me-up (and I don’t usually buy the scarves).

    Your photos are a beautiful reminder of what is important – and a bit of warmth for a slightly chilled northerner. I must admit that I have a secret wish to drive a Zamboni, though. Don’t tell anyone.

    • I DO know that you and I share the Cheap Date title, Penny. :-) I just responded to Andra that some of my need for simplicity may be age-related. There are times and seasons in our lives when we move in and out of what fits us! And this is just the time in my life when I want less of everything. I know that has influenced how I feel right now. I do relate, too, to your anniversary get-away! Sometimes it’s just as nice to stay closer to home, but simply change the scenery! I know we would make very compatible neighbors, my friend. :-) And I’d be happy to ride behind on that Zamboni!

  14. I assumed you were there, but I didn’t think anything of it. It drives me crazy that people make snap judgments about others in this manner. I took MTM to Barcelona for his 50th birthday, and I didn’t blog about it because I didn’t want to create the impression that we’re gazillionaires who can travel all the time. We aren’t gazillionaires. Travel is what we like to spend what little money we have on. Most people don’t take the time to scratch beneath the surface of anything, though, and that creates these unfortunate impressions.

    I am not a cheap date, Debra. I need to be better about following your example and finding forms of entertainment and release that are accessible with little investment. Because I spend so much time at home, I love to go out. To dinner. To shows. To drinks. MTM indulges me too much. I need to say no to myself more than I do.

    • I honestly think there are times and seasons in our lives when lifestyles fit us better, or conversely, past pursuits no longer fit! I didn’t feel personally criticized. No one said anything directly, but it was my own discomfort because I wouldn’t have mentioned the price if I had actually spent that much. I have paid exorbitantly for theater tickets, but I wouldn’t broadcast how much I paid. And in the end, it really shouldn’t matter. I’m channeling my upbringing to be private about money. Hahaha! And the funny thing is that my own self-consciousness never extends to thinking about what other people enjoy. Circumstances are different and I am always happy that others can do what makes them happiest. And the trip to Barcelona must have been incredible, Andra! What a delight for you both. I’m sorry you didn’t share about it. I’m not very consistent, am I? LOL!

  15. I’m with you, Debra:

    * I would rather eat at home than go out.
    * I would rather watch a movie at home than sit in a theatre where they will NOT stop the projector when I need a pee break.
    * I would rather watch sports at home (or not at all) than pay to sit in a packed stadium taking the weather at its worst.

    I do love walks outside, and art studios, and leafing through books at the library, etc. All Glorious and FREE. I look forward to this series of yours!

    • I’m sorry we don’t live next door to each other, Nancy! :-) We would have fun! I will say that because of our coastal living, we each have more opportunities year-round to enjoy the outdoors, and I think that influences my interests quite a bit!

      • That would be FUN! And we are “lucky ducks” to live where we live.

        We just saw a travel show on your neck of the woods ~ Tobago (sp.?) Canyon, winery tastings, restaurants sited by rushing streams, etc. It all looked FAB!

  16. My late husband (whose favorite thing in life was to eat out) used to call me a cheap date because my vegetarian meals were always less expensive than his steak.
    I do enjoy eating out, but don’t do it nearly as often as I used to. These days, my biggest indulgence is limited-release craft beer… but other than that, I’m happiest when I’m out on the trail. My $30 annual park pass buys a whole lot of happiness!

    • We go out sometimes, too, Lori, but so often by the time I get home it really is easier to cook something simple and call it a day! I do like to go out with friends. I would often prefer to be out rather than to be in the kitchen missing out on conversation. I think your focus on running at the competitive level, be it personal goals or marathon distances, must in some ways simplify other aspects of life. You have such dedicated focus, Lori. I really do admire that. It’s so much more than a hobby at this point!

    • Times and season, Charlie! I think I’m at an age when simplicity fits me more readily than it did at previous stages in our lives. It’s a wonderful thing to have options. And I do like to “live it up” once in a while. I haven’t gone into hibernation yet. LOL!

  17. I am definitely a cheap date! I love to go to parks, or down by the river and give me a free festival with the family any day of the week over an amusement park. I’d rather rent a movie and pig out on popcorn and apples at home than go to the theater. To go to a stadium or a casino? Not my thing. Don’t like the crowds.

  18. Oh, I think we all spend our extra money in one foolish way or another. I’m usually entertained with a book and a spot on the beach, and seldom feel the need to splurge on anything. But sometimes I am tempted to over spend. Finding a balance is the key thing for me. Your photos are awesome!

  19. Can I share a secret with you? I haven’t dated yet – not till university begins :P
    But a date is fun if you have fun, not according to how expensive it is! So a cheap date – no minding it at all :)

    Cheers
    CCU

  20. What super photos, Debra. I’m another cheap date as is DH. We much prefer to watch films in the comfort of our own home when they turn up on TV, and though we are lucky enough to spend time in different places, we certainly don’t spend much money when we get there, as the things we really enjoy are all free. :-)

    • I think that being tuned in to our surroundings can be the very best way to spend time, and that rarely costs a thing! There have been seasons in our lives when I enjoyed getting “out there” a lot more than I do now! My favorite activity is sitting somewhere watching the ocean, and that is one of nature’s free gifts! I had a strong feeling you could relate as one “cheap date” to another. LOL!

  21. Love this. Granted, I’ll love anything that includes a turtle ;) Everyone was talking about their plans for Super Bowl Sunday today and my boss was like “I”m going hiking! In the restricted zones! Because all the park rangers will be watching the game!” Brilliant. I should follow his lead.

    • I love your boss’s attitude about getting out on the hiking trails during the game! I hope he was able to do that, Aussa! I’m not a serious “hiker” in the truest sense of the term, but if I can find a way to get out and walk anywhere I might be able to see birds or small animals, or a beautiful open space, I’m at my very best. I live in a very population-dense area, so finding open space takes a little creativity. I think your boss has the right idea! :-)

  22. Debra, I couldn’t agree more. Some of our best monuments here are free: Henry VIII’s dissolved abbeys, still hauntingly beautiful, and many of our museums with heritage going back to the iron age. I have three expenditures I always make though: my annual membership of the National Trust, English Heritage and Historic Royal Palaces. That way, for about $60 apiece, I can visit all of their properties all year round.
    What more could a girl ask?

    • I do think that anyone with an appreciation for history can be “entertained” rather easily, don’t you, Kate? There is always a story to track down, and if we’re fortunate enough to have a specific place to visit and extend that learning, we’re the better for it. I, too, have annual memberships in a couple of places that more than pay for themselves over a year. I really do have a wealth of historical interests right in my back yard, and I cannot even fathom how much you are sitting right on top of…but I enjoy the vicarious travel when you share your adventures. :-)

  23. Whole hearted agreement, Debbie (do you mind Debbie or do you prefer Debra, by the way?) You won’t find a cheaper date than me. I can’t understand anyone being so critical- each to his own, yes? But you’re giving yourself the biggest criticism.
    A simple sunrise this morning had me dancing about like a kid. First coffee of the day in one hand and camera in the other. So much beauty is FREE! (but when I get the wanderlust that Santa Monica photo calls to me :) )

    • I love to be home and enjoy my garden and very local activities, but it’s true, sometimes we get restless and want to get out on the road. And camera always on hand! I don’t mind Debbie at all. Most of my friends and coworkers call me Debra. My family and friends who have known me since childhood usually call me Debbie or Deb. I smile when you call me Debbie…it puts you in the “close friends” category. :-)

  24. I’m so glad I have saved this post in my inbox. It’s just beautiful Debra! I love the photos and the sentiment. There really is beauty all around us and you have captured it well in your photos. For as much grumbling as we’ve done about all the snow and ice we’ve gotten, Mike and I did open our window this morning and just stare out at the beauty for a bit. It looked like a painting. The thing that I need to do is to try and remember this on the days that I’m stressed and running around busy. I can just take a moment to really look around and I’m sure I’ll see something that makes me smile and breathe lighter. Thanks Debra for the simple reminder! (And I think there’s nothing wrong with being a cheap date!) :)

    • I’m glad the “cheap date” comments resonated with you, Kristy. There is no reason to be “all or nothing” in life’s offerings, and sometimes I want to go to the theater or meet friends at a nice restaurant, but when I bring it all down to what I enjoy the most, it’s usually the simplest things! And slowing down and taking in what the natural world has to offer us is a wonderful way to instill this principle in children. I know that’s something you and Mike value, too. :-)

  25. I know that the key to my having lived a happy life is finding joy in simple things. I agree with you and no wonder I always enjoy reading your post and looking at your beautiful pictures of our state.

    • Thank you for such a kind comment, Inger. I think I recognized you as a fellow “cheap date” long ago! :-) With all the problems we could point to in California, we do have a beautiful and diverse state, don’t we? It would be a shame to be so preoccupied with other things that we didn’t slow down and enjoy it! But it looks like we may not have any wildflowers again this spring. If you do begin to see them, I hope you’ll let us know!

  26. That tree branches on the ground looks really cool!!! I’d climb it the minute I see it. :D We, Californians, are so blessed with free-admission goodies. It’s awesome how natural things, like birds, or the ocean, can be so representative of a place you visit. You really don’t have to spend too much when you travel.

    • That’s what I think, too, Rommel. There is so much natural diversity in California that we really couldn’t see it all! That gives me plenty of incentive to keep taking my little road trips and side adventures. I do keep busy, yet I have long lists of places not that far from my home that I haven’t yet been able to visit. Are you coming back to CA soon?

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