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a bright idea

February 20, 2013

Every year, my husband asks me what I want for my birthday. And every year I say, “Please don’t get me anything.”

I don’t say this because I’m setting Ali up for failure, and I don’t say this because I’m selfless. No, I say this because it’s the smart thing to say.

From Maya: My favorites from TJ's. The best gift ever.

From Maya: My favorites from TJ’s. The best gift ever.

I know you think I’m being dramatic, but I promise you that I’m not. And in a second you’ll see why…

Here’s how things unfolded last week (no pun intended) after I opened my birthday gift from Ali:

Me: “Light bulbs. You bought me three boxes of light bulbs.”

Ali: “They aren’t just light bulbs, they’re eco-friendly light bulbs.”

Me: It’s my birthday and you bought me light bulbs.”

Ali: “Don’t you remember the last time I changed the light bulbs in the living room and you said, “That was the best gift ever?”

Me: “It was a figure of speech! Tinged with a good amount of sarcasm.”

Maya: “See? I told you Mama wouldn’t like them.”

From my Mom: A cookbook ever from my favorite actress ever.

From my Mom: A cookbook ever from my favorite actress ever.

Instead of realizing the error of his ways, my husband continued to try to make his point. He pulled up a chair (in lieu of a ladder) and started replacing the first of three living room lights that had gone out.

But, as expected, he got tired halfway into his project. So after a few minutes he abandoned the chair, the light bulbs (old and new), all of the packaging, and collapsed on the couch in our still dimly lit living room.

From my Brother: A Tory Burch gift card. And from my Husband, after an intervention from my friend Nadia: A bracelet

From my Brother: A Tory Burch gift card.
And from my Husband (after an intervention from my friend Nadia): A bracelet

I’ll let you guess who cleaned up the mess.

115 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2013 12:14 am

    Oh dear, I am kinda feeling sorry for Ali here. He sounds so sincere in remembering your comment from last year, and hunting out those light bulbs… It was a pretty ‘unique’ present!
    (And he came good in the end with the bracelet).

    • February 20, 2013 8:00 pm

      The end is all that really matters….And I kind of feel sorry for him too. But that doesn’t stop me from blogging about it…

  2. spiceandmore permalink
    February 20, 2013 12:15 am

    Also, Gwyneth Paltrow eats/cooks? Who knew….

  3. February 20, 2013 12:16 am

    lol!! Ali really does keep track of all your likes and dislikes. I just loved your presents. But I loved Maya’s gift the best!! That Lindt chocolate bar is to die for!!

    • February 20, 2013 8:01 pm

      The Lindt 85% and the Trader Joe’s 72% are my favorites!

  4. February 20, 2013 2:32 am

    🙂 I just love the way you write, the flow is unique.
    Hope it was a great birthday!
    Thanks so much for dropping by my blog!

  5. February 20, 2013 4:36 am

    Too funny! My husband once gave me a Bissell carpet cleaner for Mother’s Day. The sad thing is that I had a projectile-vomiting baby and a hairball-spewing cat at the time and it was a very very helpful gift, if not nearly as pretty as a Hermes bracelet! 😉

    • February 20, 2013 8:04 pm

      Maybe he could predict the future? Or he caused the vomit and hairball so his gift would be useful…

      I always think the worst, right?

  6. February 20, 2013 5:57 am

    I love the right brain thinking Ali’s got going on! Not reading between the lines is something he and Vishnu have in common. 🙂

  7. February 20, 2013 6:00 am

    The first time I went over to my future husband’s apartment, I couldn’t see any of the upstairs…b/c it was pitch black, despite being sunny outside. All the lightbulbs were out, and he had blackout curtains that didn’t open. Personally, I’m impressed with Ali. I didn’t know men even knew how to change a bulb.

    • February 20, 2013 8:07 pm

      I laughed out loud at this one…blackout curtains? Darkness in the middle of the day?

      Suddenly Ali is looking like a good guy. 🙂

  8. February 20, 2013 6:13 am

    Maya’s gift is soo sweet (literally)!!! That she got your favorites just makes that gift a whole lot special!! And about Ali,….the way he doesn’t get sarcasm is really funny 🙂

    • February 20, 2013 8:08 pm

      Sarcasm is totally lost on my husband…he doesn’t get it at all!

  9. February 20, 2013 7:23 am

    Maya’s gifts are amazing (she knows how to butter up her mama!) Ali…I can understand why he got those light bulbs, but why is it that husbands have this inherent ability to listen and remember all the things that are not actually useful for birthday gifts ideas?? Two years ago a week before my birthday my husband were window shopping, I saw a really nice pearl necklace and commented on how nice it was. My husband said it was nice too. Later that day I happen to mention a particular brand of vacuum cleaner was really good too. Yep you guessed it I got a vacuum cleaner on my birthday –I am not sure who this ‘gift’ really was for! 🙂

    Although Ali did well with the bracelet! Love it!

    • February 20, 2013 8:09 pm

      I’m so sorry your husband misses cues and hints like mine does…I hope that the vacuum cleaner was at least a good one!

      PS: Go buy yourself the pearls. 🙂

  10. February 20, 2013 7:35 am

    Maya is in the right direction, Ali apparently still needs to learn (a lot) 🙂 That’s why every year I always tell my husband to give me gift card(s) from my fave stores for my birthday (it’s for his own good actually). I’m very practical like that 😉

  11. February 20, 2013 7:36 am

    Love Maya’s gifts—those kinds are my favorite. I think some men are just bad at giving gifts in general. The last person I dated long enough for birthday/holiday gifts to be a thing was notorious for leaving it to the last minute and choosing things that he wanted or thought the recipient should like. Once there was an ultra-romantic book of Camus short pieces ( because nothing says I love you like existential literature). Another time my Christmas gift was a case for the ukulele he’d bought me for my birthday. I didn’t take it too personally since he was like that with everyone, but in retrospect, maybe I should have raised an eyebrow or said something.

    • February 20, 2013 8:12 pm

      “…nothing says I love you like existential literature.” I wouldn’t even know what to do with a gift like that? I think I’d just feel too dumb to say so though.

      I guess I’m glad you “said something” before he stuck around for good!

  12. February 20, 2013 8:16 am

    Hahaha. Guys are so literal, it’s hilarious. Tom and I really don’t exchange gifts, mostly because I suck at gift giving. I overthink it and end up giving complete duds. Instead we book a trip or go to a nice dinner.
    I’m all about the gifts from Maya though. Smart girl.

    • February 20, 2013 8:12 pm

      Trips and dinners are all I really want now…I guess being 37 has shifted my priorities from lighting to what really matters. 🙂

  13. February 20, 2013 8:37 am

    If Hermes is the make-up gift, I say let him screw up again!

  14. February 20, 2013 9:30 am

    Poor guy. He really has no clue! And poor you! Well, at least mama got it right. Happy Birthday!!

  15. February 20, 2013 9:31 am

    Oh dear oh dear. I have a huge grin on my face.

    On a completely different note, you like 85% chocolate? That’s beyond bitter. I use the 90% as the unsweetened chocolate when making brownies.

    • February 20, 2013 8:13 pm

      It’s the best chocolate…one of my favorite! After a while the bitterness seems to disappear…

  16. February 20, 2013 9:32 am

    And Happy Birthday!!!!


  17. February 20, 2013 9:49 am

    hahaha wait – he got you something that you guys already needed anyway? At least he was thinking right? And the bracelet is pretty, so there’s that. 🙂
    Happy belated Birthday Ameena!

  18. February 20, 2013 10:02 am

    i love gwenny. i read her goop newsletters religiously! but wait…who is the little hermes box from? they get a gold star!

    • February 20, 2013 8:14 pm

      I love GOOP and all things Gwyneth-related. 🙂

  19. February 20, 2013 10:04 am

    You’ve always reminded me of Gwyneth Paltrow! Nice bracelet!

    • February 20, 2013 8:15 pm

      Best compliment ever…since I basically want to be her!

  20. February 20, 2013 11:02 am

    Oh, when will you learn Ameena! Sarcasm is wasted on the male of our species 😉 And look on the brighter side, he changed 3 light bulbs. That has to be better than zero 🙂

    • February 20, 2013 8:15 pm

      Actually he only changed one….three would have been a much better gift!

  21. February 20, 2013 11:54 am

    Ameena what you need to do is keep an ongoing list of things you want, then when Ali needs to get you a gift he is able to scan it and have lots of options. If I truly want something I have to tell Glenn what it is, the brand name, where to find it, a bin #, the sales girls name, a lot #, & every specification in between.

    But you got some pretty swanky gifts I must say.

    • February 20, 2013 8:16 pm

      I love all of the details you include…the bin#. Hysterical.

  22. February 20, 2013 12:09 pm

    So the important question is, what will you be getting from Tory Burch? I have been lusting after a new pair of flats and/or a buttery soft leather bag (that I would obviously fill with macraoons and madeleines) 🙂 Happy Birthday friend! I loved seeing all the birthday pics.

    • February 20, 2013 8:16 pm

      I am very excited to get a new pair of flats because I LOVE Tory Burch’s flats!!

      And thanks for the birthday wishes. 🙂

  23. February 20, 2013 12:15 pm

    I guess you need to pay attention to your words like “this is a best gift ever, but NOT suitable for a birthday or any other holiday gift”…. he he… It looks like your bday was a lot of fun

    • February 20, 2013 8:17 pm

      I need to include a whole lot of footnotes when I talk to Ali, don’t I? 🙂

  24. February 20, 2013 12:28 pm

    lol it was very sincere of Ali :p and Maya is just adorable – coconut macarons are the BEST. very nice gift from mama and brother. Enjoy that gift card 🙂

    • February 20, 2013 8:17 pm

      They are the best! And on behalf of Maya, thank you. 🙂

  25. Taking On Magazines permalink
    February 20, 2013 1:34 pm

    Now, now, that’s not fair. Doing a job halfway is MY husband’s job. 🙂 I gotta admit, there’s a lot that can be punned with when it comes to light bulbs. I’ll be nice and resist. Ali really did come through in the end. The bracelet is beautiful. Gwyneth is an excellent cook, by the way. I have the Bon Appetit issue that she’s featured in and the dishes I tried were outstanding. You’ll love the cookbook.

    • February 20, 2013 8:18 pm

      So so funny…

      I thought of you when I received the cookbook…I wondered what you thought about it!

  26. February 20, 2013 2:42 pm

    I suppose he made up for it with the bracelet. Thank goodness your friend did something about it!

    • February 20, 2013 6:02 pm

      I have to say, if it wasn’t for her friend – who knows how the week would have gone

    • February 20, 2013 8:18 pm

      My friend Nadia is the best. She a master at intervention. 🙂

  27. February 20, 2013 3:05 pm

    You cleaned up. 🙂 I loveeeeeeeee Maya’s gift to you, so sweet. The Hermes bracelet makes up for everything, you gotta admit. 🙂 So funny, didn’t know Gwen is your favorite actress, that’s interesting because I told you that you look and talk like her. Happy Birthday again.

    • February 20, 2013 8:19 pm

      I remember you saying so and I think the comparison is the best compliment ever since I LOVE Gwyneth!

  28. seana permalink
    February 20, 2013 3:28 pm

    Light bulbs. Now that cracks me up 🙂

  29. February 20, 2013 4:09 pm

    I ❤ gwyneth too! Was that a good book?

    • February 20, 2013 8:19 pm

      It is a good book…I’m actually contemplating cooking a few new things! And I rarely do that. 🙂

  30. February 20, 2013 4:49 pm

    Lovely gifts, all of them. Ali’s sense of humor is super cool!

  31. February 20, 2013 5:11 pm

    Ali should have listened to Maya! I hope you enjoy your lightbulbs. And go buy yourself something you really want.

    • February 22, 2013 9:30 am

      I would enjoy my light bulbs a bit more if they were being used!

  32. February 20, 2013 5:15 pm

    I always thought my husband was the most clueless man ever when it came to birthday gifts but I can see that Ali can give him stiff competition 🙂 Guess what my birthday gift was, a high chair which clearly I cannot use.

    I like Gwyneth too…religiously read her goop newsletter.

    • February 22, 2013 9:31 am

      A high chair? Are you joking? I’m so confused…

      And Gwyneth…I love her. 🙂

      • February 23, 2013 1:28 pm

        Sorry for thoroughly confusing you. I was going on and on about how it’s high time we got a high chair for Neil. So my husband took the “hint” and got a high chair…for Neil, on my birthday 🙂

      • February 26, 2013 8:54 am

        That makes sense now! Sorry for being a bit on the slow side. 🙂

  33. February 20, 2013 6:00 pm

    i love you guys. when can i meet the famous ali!?!?

  34. February 20, 2013 6:05 pm

    She used to keep a wish list, but since that is no longer used, it’s hard to figure out what she would like. Anyway, I am glad her friend shed some light on this since she didn’t indicate otherwise – or I am just always in the dark I guess about these things.

    • February 22, 2013 9:32 am

      You don’t have to be in the dark Ali…you can install my birthday gifts?

  35. February 20, 2013 6:43 pm

    Maya’s gift is my FAVORITE. Yay Maya!!! I change all the light bulbs around here. Unless it’s annoying/ hard to reach and then I annoy Chad and stand over him with the light bulb in my hand pointing at the offending lamp. If he were to give me light bulbs for my birthday… I hope he knows better.

    • February 22, 2013 9:33 am

      I should add the light bulbs to my To Do list. But it’s so long that I fear I’ll never get to them!

  36. Shauna permalink
    February 21, 2013 12:46 am

    Well, you got some awesome gifts for sure, the light bulbs not being one of them, but better luck next time to Ali. 🙂 hahahaa. Seriously, I love the gifts. And your husband continues to crack me up! I have a file on the computer that I keep an ongoing list of stuff I want. My husband just refers to that. It’s awesome. Happy Birthday again… 🙂

    Shauna xo

    • February 22, 2013 9:33 am

      Smart idea to keep a list going. I used to have one on Amazon but then somehow it fell by the wayside….

  37. February 21, 2013 12:54 am

    Nice gifts, so sweet from Maya…light bulbs though? Hope they were very special ones!

    • February 22, 2013 9:34 am

      They are eco-friendly so I suppose that classifies them as special? 🙂

  38. February 21, 2013 3:38 am

    Lolz husbands and their gifts 🙂 Thats why mine doesn’t get me anything now he says buy yourself one .. you won’t like what I’ll give you anyways

    • February 22, 2013 9:35 am

      Your husband is smart….that’s what I should do! Just buy myself something.

  39. February 21, 2013 5:32 am

    Light bulbs…,.wow, you couldn’t have made that up if you’d tried.
    Happy Birthday!

    • February 22, 2013 9:35 am

      Exactly! That was initially going to be the last line of this post. 🙂

  40. February 21, 2013 4:14 pm

    I agree, Maya’s offerings are the sweetest ever!!! 😀 And Ali could not have been more hilarious, though I think I would have been fuming up if I were you 😛

    • February 22, 2013 9:35 am

      I was super mad but more tired than anything. So he got off easily!

  41. February 21, 2013 4:50 pm

    ha! seriously. My husband’s worst gift ever was also his first gift ever.. he has improved greatly. He bought me fugly brown rubber flip flops for our first anniversary. But he saved himself by taking me on a romantic dinner cruise on the hudson river..
    at least you know he was listening..

    • February 22, 2013 9:36 am

      What was the reasoning behind the flip flops? And brown at that?

      So curious.

  42. February 21, 2013 8:42 pm

    The intervention bracelet is beautiful! And I adore Tory Burch. Even the gift cards are so pretty! My husband and I just tell each other in advance what we want- yeah, it takes the romance out of surprises, but there’s no stress. Ho-hum.

    • February 22, 2013 9:36 am

      I agree…the Tory Burch gift cards and packaging are really pretty.

      You and your husband have the right idea! Might as well just square these things away in advance. 🙂

  43. February 21, 2013 9:25 pm

    Wow. Ali, I am so disappointed. Only my own husband would be such a goof. My heart goes out to you. Glad he came through with the bracelet in the end…

    • February 22, 2013 9:37 am

      Thanks Andrea…here’s hoping your husband comes through for your birthday this year!

  44. February 21, 2013 9:35 pm

    I say you made out very well this year on the gifts. Good for Nadia for steering in the very right way. I love that bracelet!

    • February 22, 2013 9:37 am

      Thanks Olie…I’m lucky to have Nadia to assist with the difficult steering. 🙂

  45. February 22, 2013 7:13 am

    That Paltrow cookbook is amazing, I use it all the time!

    • February 22, 2013 9:38 am

      I’m hoping it’s foolproof since I’m not that great in the kitchen!

  46. February 22, 2013 12:01 pm

    My husband did something like that. I mistakenly said that I liked a swiffer sweeper because it would help me clean the floors without bending (I have a crippled back)…and I got that for my birthday. Jerk.
    Happy Birthday sweets xo

    • February 24, 2013 9:17 pm

      So I should appreciate the lights? I mean at least they are better than a Swiffer…

      You poor thing.

  47. February 22, 2013 4:09 pm

    You need to get an Amazon wish list going ASAP 😉 Thanks for the laugh.

    • February 24, 2013 9:17 pm

      I had one for a bit but nobody used it so it seemed pointless!

  48. February 23, 2013 9:34 am

    Useless but sincere husband syndrome again here Ameena! I know it well…

  49. February 23, 2013 9:52 am

    If only we could marry our mothers, at least on birthdays it would be great.

    • February 24, 2013 9:18 pm

      Freud would be intrigued by this comment Lauren… 🙂

  50. The Dose of Reality permalink
    February 23, 2013 12:19 pm

    Hahahahahaha. “It was a figure of speech!!” Bwahahahaha. I’ll be thinking about that all day!
    Thank goodness you have a good girlfriend who could stage a gift intervention! Well done, Nadia!

  51. February 24, 2013 1:51 am

    Okay okay let’s put the light bulbs away for a second…and more importantly, what color H bracelet did you get?? Nadia sounds like a keeper of a friend for nudging Ali in the right direction ;)!

    • February 24, 2013 9:19 pm

      I got a pink bracelet…love it!

      And Nadia…love her even more. 🙂

  52. February 26, 2013 4:37 am

    Aren’t friends always comes to the rescue in dire situations?! 😀

    Apart from the light bulbs — beautiful gifts!

  53. March 1, 2013 10:17 am

    I absolutely love the Gwyneth Paltrow cookbook! The zucchini spaghetti is to die for! And an Hermes bracelet! Such great gifts 🙂

    • March 3, 2013 9:14 pm

      Thanks for the feedback on the cookbook! I have not made anything from the book yet but zucchini spaghetti sounds amazing… 🙂

  54. March 6, 2013 1:04 pm

    Why don’t I have friends like that?? And Ali is regressing!! Didn’t he once get you your favourite tea all the way from Paris? 🙂

  55. May 5, 2013 2:43 pm

    Thanks for finally talking about >a bright idea | Fancy That.

    ..Fancy This <Liked it!

  56. May 5, 2013 2:46 pm

    Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up. The words in your content seem to be running off the screen in Internet explorer.
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