Sustainable Cooks
First Time Visiting? Start Here!

The Birthday Project. 31 for 31

Share the love

Some time last year my friend Anne sent me a link to The Birthday Project.  It was such a cool idea – you spend your birthday doing good deeds for others; one deed per year you’ve been alive.  I decided then and there to spend my next birthday doing just that.

I took over a month to plan and get all strategic, and get things ready.  A few things were done the week of the big birthday because of convenience and timing.  And of course I took you all along for the ride.

How I spent my day last Friday:

1) Gave blood.  For the first time!  For most of my life I was hypoglycemic and was a bit underweight and therefore couldn’t give blood.   Since I switched to a whole foods diet, the hypoglycemia has vanished.  What a great surprise!  I still hadn’t give blood though, but my mind was changed two weeks ago when my momma was in the hospital.  Mom was given a blood transfusion, and that was a wake up call that some stranger’s act helped my mom heal and get better.

Let’s talk about this picture for a second.  If you ever decide to have your photo taken while giving blood, ask the female and NOT the male vampires to take the photo.  That dress is super cute in person, but this photo makes me look like I’m dressed in an end of days period costume.

2) Donated to KUOW (local NPR channel) after years of being a free-loader.

3) Wrote a thank you note to Jack’s preschool teacher and the paraeducator for his room.

4) Sent thank you notes to two instructors I had in high school.

5) Left goodies for our trash and recycling people.

6) Left cookies for our librarians.

7) Left cookies for the woman who runs our post office.  We’re a small town and no one has mail service.  Everyone has a post office box and this woman is a busy bee!

8) Left tennis balls at an off-leash dog park.

9) Went to my sister’s work to wash her filthy windshield, and left her a note letting her know how much I love her.


10) Went down to an area of town where people park and commute to a large employer.  You’d be shocked at how many people wouldn’t take a free cookie from me.  This guy however…


11) Dropped off cookies and a thank you note at our local police department.

12) Went to a local coffee stand where my sister-in-law gets her coffee every morning.  I had a plan to get her a coffee, but the little turd had already been through there that morning.  I left a note and a $5 bill for the next person to drive up to the stand.

13) Since the hosebeast that I call my sister-in-law spoiled the coffee surprise, I brought her some cookies too.

14) Took cookies to Troy’s grandma’s house.  She wasn’t home.  She called me later to say they were the best cookies she’s ever had (recipe here) and that she ate two of them.  That may sound silly, but she is allergic to everything under the sun.  We joke she survives on air.  So for her to eat them (and keep them down) AND enjoy them, was huge!

15) Went to Troy’s other grandma’s house to leave her cookies.  She wasn’t wigged up and was in a housecoat, so no photos!

16) Left $1 bills in a parking garage with a note to use one if they were short on cash for parking.

17) Dropped off coffee for my amazing in-laws.

18) Went to Toys R Us and put quarters in some of the vending machine slots.



19) Went to the library with the intent on putting $1 bills in some of my favorite young reader books.  Then this book caught my eye and I knew I had to put one in there too!




20) Headed to Joann’s and snagged a number at the cutting counter.  I hate waiting in line at Joann’s for fabric to be cut; I swear they only ever have three employees staffed in the whole store during any given shift.

So, when my number was called (94), I asked who 95 was and handed her my ticket.  She was so excited that she let me take her picture!

21) Dropped off water bottles on a long hiking trail.

22) Taped microwave popcorn to the Redbox at an Albertson’s store.

23) Returned carts at Costco.

Cleared these ones from the little unloading zone next to a handicap spots.  Tsk tsk rude people!

24) I helped some people unload their groceries at Costco.  No photos; my hands were busy!

Quick break to treat myself to a high-quality lunch.

25) Dropped off cookies and thank yous to the labor and delivery nurses where Jack and my nephew were born.

26 ) Left cookies and a thank you note for the lactation consultant who spent so much damn time with me in those first few weeks.  I remember her audibly gasping when she saw the carnage that my pirana child had caused.

27) Took some crayons and little crafty things to the ER.

28) Brought my mom dinner at the gimp hut.

29) Donated some crosswords to the gimp hut for the residents.

30) My mom always talks about how much she misses my sister and I being little enough to rock.  So for my 30th deed, I let the old broad rock me!

31) I had a “sleep party” with my kiddo.  He loves these so much and always asks me to have a sleepover.  This turned out to be a great gift to me, because Jack slept until 8 am!!  Homeboy usually wakes up between 5:45 and 6:15 am on weekends.  This was bliss.

All in all, this was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.  I spent the day doing fun things and making other people smile; what could be better!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

45 comments on “The Birthday Project. 31 for 31”

  1. What a great idea!! I think I’ll try this next year for my (gulp!) 42nd birthday…I’ll have to start planning now! Or maybe start smaller with 21 good deeds.
    I love your blog – I look forward to your posts every morning at work with my morning coffee. Such a nice way to start the day.

  2. what great ideas! You must have made a boatload of cookies! I love to pay for the person behind me in the drive thru’s breakfast or the persons toll behind me. It makes me so happy to do it!

  3. Happy Birthday! What an amazing way to bring joy to the hearts of others. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate one’s life!

  4. I LOVE this idea! We celebrate birthday weeks in my family- a tradition my dad started when we were kids. You don’t do anything super huge, just little things to let the birthday person know you are thinking of him/her (a card, an email, a special meal). I think that I will add good deeds to my birthday week next year too!

  5. Just read about the Birthday Project yesterday – how great to see your blog about it today. My birthday is next Friday and you’ve inspired me to do 33 good deeds. I like how simple yours are and sweet (love the dollars in the books at the library and letting your mom rock you – mine would love that).

    Happy birthday!

  6. Awesome Idea!
    I turn 30 next month, I will think of things to do and try to actually do it this year!

  7. Happy Birthday!! This post was AWESOME!!

  8. I love this blog post. You are such an amazing person and I am honored to call you my friend! you inspire me to be a better person daily. Love you momma!!

  9. What an amazing idea! I love reading your blog, and this was really fun. Good for you!! And, Happy Birthday!

  10. First, Happy Birthday. Second, what a wonderful idea. I’m going to do something similar, but I’m so old it will be spread over a week instead of a day, don’t think I could get enough done in a day.

  11. What an awesome idea!! Happy birthday! I am turning 31 in February and you just inspired me – I may be adopting your tradition. Love it!

  12. That sound really fun. But since I’m going to be 54 on my next birthday, could I cut that number in half? Just don’t think there is enough time in a single day!

    Happy Birthday!!

  13. This is so cool! What a great way to spread cheer! You are very thoughtful. I love that you left water at the end of the trail and popcorn on the Redbox kiosk. I am totally stealing some of these ideas and going to drop random kindbombs the next time I feel like sh*t. I will give you credit for the ideas, of course!

    I wish we lived closer; I would love to have coffee with you!

  14. That’s such an amazing idea. I’ve been struggling to figure out how I want to celebrate my birthday this year. Now I know!!

  15. I’m so glad I know you. 🙂

  16. Your post made me cry – what a fantastic idea. I will definitely be implementing something like this on my birthday.

  17. I LOVE this idea! I will be (gasp) 44 in two weeks and already decided to take a couple of vacation days to end the week, so I will not be working on my birthday. I am SO going to do this. I’m sure I won’t get in 44, and I am going to have to steal some of your ideas. I’m with Laura – not surprised that people wouldn’t take the cookies, I would not have taken the popcorn at the redbox, either.

  18. Ok so that was just awesome….but you did that all in a day?!?!?!? Holy Crap woman….that’s a week long birthday celebration for me!!! Happy Birthday!

    • Not everything was done on the same day. The first few items were done that week.

      I had Jack with me for about 90 minutes, then dropped him off at my inlaws. I had a 90 minute class in the middle of the day, and still got everything, except the stuff with my mom done by 2 pm.

      I made a huge list of things I wanted to do, and then pared it down based on feasibility and location.

  19. This made me cry- and THEN i got to the picture of your Mom rocking you. Such a great way to spend your day!!

  20. Happy Birthday! That is just an awesome thing you did! Sadly, I’m not at all surprised that people wouldn’t take cookies from you. 🙁


  21. fabulous idea!!! will have to do it next year :))

  22. Great idea! It’s a good idea for Lent as well (if you’re into that sort of thing). Happy Birthday! I’m not surprised people wouldn’t accept the food gifts either. We’ve been trained so well by all the spooky stories of poison and razor blades that we’re afraid of almost everybody.

  23. First: Happy belated birthday! Second: you have fantastic handwriting! Third: That’s an awesome way to spend your birthday and spread the joy. Fourth: I totally want a cookie. And it’s an hour past my bed time. They look delicious.

  24. I tried to do this on my last birthday, but I couldn’t think of enough ideas. You’ve got my wheels turning for next year!

  25. Way to inspire a bunch of ripples of good deeds! xo

  26. Love it!!!! Gives me a great idea for my birthday coming up. Of course I’ll have to add some good deeds to my list and it may take more than one day to do it. 🙂
    But I still think I would love to try it. Very thoughtful! Happy Birthday by the way!

  27. I absolutely love this idea!!! I am definitely going to do this!!! My birthday isn’t until July, so maybe Christmas time would be closer option. And doing good deeds at a time of giving has a nice ring to it!
    I’ve followed your blog for a few months now and I love it! You always have such great ideas, but I have to say that this is my favorite!

  28. You. Are. Amazing. And definitely inspirational 🙂 Happy Birthday!!!

  29. You have inspired us all! now we can go on and do good deeds and inspire other people…………Thanks! and Happy Birthday!

  30. This is freakin awesome Sarah. You never seize to amaze me, you are truly one of kind. You have inspired me to do something great for my 30th 🙂 ((hugs)& love & happy Birthday lady.

  31. I am inspired. My bday has already passed (sept 11th) but I am thinking of doing this the first of december, for christmas. Thanks for the ideas!

  32. Wow…. you should consider sharing this one of the good deeds. Great idea!

  33. Love it! SO glad you had fun. What a way to celebrate your life by blessing the lives of so many others! Thanks for sharing and I’ll be sure to share with the FB page to help inspire others. Happy (belated) Birthday!
    The Birthday Project

  34. May I just say….you ROCK girl!

  35. i just came across your blog tonite when i was doing a search on grinding your own flour. i love this post about your birthday good deeds! how very inspiring. =)

  36. Thank you so much for sharing! My 40th is next month and I can’t wait to get started on the planning of all this! It will be the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER!

  37. Your language absolutely cracks me up. Lovely deeds, thanks for the inspiration!

  38. Well I think I know what I will be doing for my 34th birthday this coming March. 🙂 Although my Hobbit birthday party turning 33 was hard to top (nerd alert: hobbits “come of  age” at 33 so my friends threw me an amazing party.)