Last minute MENS gift advice

I saw this column on one of the blogs I read. It is hiarious and very true. For anyone that is newly married (or at least still feels that way) and still struggles and what to get your husband for Christmas- this guy has some good advice.

Jeff and I always joke that his maturity age when we met was at about 8 or 9. Since we got married, we thought he is at least 14 or 15 by now. I'm sad to know, that in actuality, he may still be only 4. *sigh*

Kirby: A guide to great guy gifts
By Robert Kirby

Tribune Columnist

Updated: 12/15/2009 11:31:51 AM MST

If you haven't finished (or even started) Christmas shopping for the man in your life, I am just in time. This column could save you from living with the world's largest 4-year-old.
NOTE: I'm not kidding. In his heart of hearts, every guy is 4 years old. Five tops.

Anyway, the only thing that makes a guy sulk worse than not getting what he wants for Christmas is getting what a woman thinks he should have instead.
For the record, this includes any item in the following four boring Christmas gift groups: neckties, grooming, pajamas and self-help books.

On the bright side, shopping for men is relatively easy. Compared with shopping for women, it's no more complicated than getting something for the family dog or even just a stray.
Sadly, some women still manage to mess it up. Every year right after Christmas, you see men standing in line waiting to exchange nose trimmers, slippers and bulk deodorant. On their faces are looks grim enough to sterilize livestock at a glance.

A good example of this would be the year my wife got me a bathrobe for Christmas. For the record, it was not something I wanted, needed or had even asked for.
She got me a bathrobe for herself, or rather her own peace of mind. She was tired of me walking around the house, answering the door and going outside to get the newspaper in my underwear.
It was a nice bathrobe, velour with matching slippers. I took it back and exchanged it for thevideo "Kung Fu Monkeys, Volume Four" and a blow gun. With the money left over, I got a pizza on the way home.

So, what do men want for Christmas? Since you asked (or simply read this far), it's basically, anything you don't want him to have because it's a.) too expensive, b.) totally ridiculous, c.) almost certainly dangerous, and/or d.) socially disturbing.
However, if you're an understanding woman, or simply don't feel like having Christmas ruined by prolonged shouting from the garage, you'll get it for him anyway.

If you are shopping blind this Christmas, meaning that your guy hasn't specifically asked for something, or already bought it, you'll do well with any of the following:
» You can't go wrong with anything in the projectile category. While this generally refers to firearms, slingshots and crossbows, it also can be extended to cover artillery, rocketry and even catapults.

» Also appreciated by men Christmas morning are gifts that -- either by design or deliberate misuse -- can be made to explode. In this category are fireworks, surplus military ordnance, small engines and anything labeled: "Contents Under Pressure."

» While it's understood that many men can read, it's wise to avoid giving them books as gifts, particularly books having to do with relationships, child psychology, the feminine mystique, cats and any emotion other than raucous laughter.

It's almost impossible to go wrong with food, but people still try. In general, a guy would rather have a ham than a box of truffles. Whatever you get, make sure it's jerked, peppered, smoked and gastronomically irritating.

Want to give your guy an item of apparel that he won't take back? Get something that fits you and is see-through. Find it with his favorite sports team logo on it and it'll be the best Christmas he ever had.

Robert Kirby can be reached at rkirby@sltrib.com



Elder Travis Bame has returned home from his mission in El Salvador!! We are so excited to have Travis home and so proud of him for serving an honorable mission. It's been fun to read his letters, and for me, experience having a brother on mission, as we are all girls on my side of the family.

With his coming home we have been hanging out with the Bame family a lot the past couple months. The weekend after he came home we went to San Diego for our annual Halloween beach camping trip. Heather, my sister, also joined us. We had a lot of fun just playing in the waves (or for Jeff, reading his book, dry on the beach) and hanging out around the campfire. The weather was perfect and the company was superb.

The next weekend we had the Bame's over for Taco Night at our house. I tried my best to figure out how to cook for 10 people instead of our regular twosome. Luckily, tacos' are simple because my culinary skills are greatly lacking. After dinner the girls stayed over and played rockband.

(Right: Becky on drums, Amber on lead guitar, Natalie slappin' the bass, Jeff rockin' the mic, and Amanda our band-aid)

Saturday and Sunday we spent over at Kieth and Nanette's' hanging out with cousins, aunts and uncles. At church on Sunday Travis gave his "homecoming" talk and Aaron played an awesome musical number on the violin. We love spending time with the family, it's rare when everyone can get together like this with such a large family.

All the RM's in attendace

The following Wed. was Veterans day so we rallied up our "troops" to go hiking at Red Rock and have a picnic. It was a perfect cool, overcast day.

(To the right: Sage, Amber, Jeff, Shela, Jade, Heather, Travis, Bailey, Abbey, Natalie)

We've been kept really busy the last few weeks and I have a feeling with Birthdays and the Holidays coming up that it wont slow down anytime soon. I can't wait for Thanksgiving when we get to be together with all our family again.


Happy Anniversary

Last week Jeff and I celebrated our 2 year wedding anniversary. I can't believe it has been TWO YEARS! It feel like we are still newlyweds, while at the same time, it feels like we have been together our whole lives. I love him so much; I simply cannot imagine living life without him anymore.

To celebrate we saw The Killers play in Salt Lake and exchange presents. We saw them last year around our anniversary too and we are hoping that if The Killers cooperate, that we can see them every year for our anniversary. For presents we exchanged vinyl records and went clothes shoping. Jeff gave me a couple Pearl Jam records and I gave him a Best Of Morrisey record and a day trip to a local casino Spa.

Then, this past weekend, we went to see a movie at Town Square and did some shoping. Since we never buy ourselves clothes anymore we decided we would count it towards our anniversary, as niether of us followed the tradition of giving cotton or china.

My family is full of September anniversarys. My Mom and Dads is on the 21st and My Uncle Mitch & Aunt Jana's is just a few days after. September is such a great month for lovers!

Love you bunches Jeffery!


Pinched Pennies

In the less than two years since Jeff and I have been married, due to layoffs and other "fun" life events, we are bringing in less Benjamines than we are use to. Add on top of that buying a much needed car and house and it makes for some pretty inventive budgeting (not to mention, a pretty stressful first couple years of marriage).

I thought in this blog I would share some of our money saving tips, some of which are not entirely new or creative, but this is what works for us. These days, everyone seems to be looking for ways to save an extra buck or two and this is our few tips and tricks on how to do it.

1. Free Stuff: Yes, free is the cheapest we can get, so we look for these opportunites everywhere. Since entertainment is the first thing to get kicked out of a stretched budget we look for free entertainment the most. We have had great luck finding free movies. We belong to lasvegasmovieinsider.com. This site tells where to pick up free passes to pre-release secret premiers. Another great source is the Clark County Libraries. They will show great classics like "The Birds" and even more recent releases like "Running with Siccors" at their theaters in town. It's great because you can see old classics on the big screen.

Another great form of free entertainment is free concerts. Jeff usually scores these from myspace's secret shows (like Glasvegas - great show) and reading the fine print in the Las Vegas Weekly. We have even gotten to see free concerts when we've purchased a ticket for one show and the venue will give away free entrance into other events held in the casino the same day with a ticket stubb.

2. Taking it outside: Outdoor activities are my favorite forms of cheap entertainment. Going for a walk, bike ride, or on a hike are usually free. Summers in Las Vegas cramp this a bit, but with Mt. Charleston just a few bucks of gas away with it's cooler tempatures and hiking trails, we don't have to go far to enjoy the great outdoors. I'm even a fan for camping in the backyard or taking the projection screen and some sheets outside for your own night out without having to leave the house.

3. Coupons: Jeff and I are turning into expert coupon hunters. I usually save an average of $20 on a $100-130 grocery bill. I also only go shoping every other week instead of making weekly shoping trips, going to the grocery store less often usually saves money. Jeff searches our mail for coupons and I belong to a couple websites such as Shortcuts.com to get the best coupons.

Our younger siblings roped us into buying these coupon books from them for some school activity or something as well. We were able to recoup their cost within the first month or so with the coupons we used at grocery stores and the movies. Plus it makes date nights easier- "Where should we go?" Just look in the coupon book and pick what looks fun or tasty. (Yes, we actually do this, we are sad I know).

4. Two for One: When you start looking around it's amazing how many places offer specials with buy one get one free, which is great when your family is made up of only 2. House of Blues lets you sign up to get their Two For Tuesday deals, where you can purchase two tickets for selected upcoming events for the price of one ticket every Tuesday. And when we're feeling like a frozen treat we just hit up Dairy Queen off Eastern on Tuesdays for thier buy one peanut buster parfa get one free.

5. Cutting the Excess: We have been continually working on cutting back. We may take some services off of our cable or phones bills only to come back a few months later to reasses. Once we've lived a few months without such and such a service we see what else can we easily live without. In the last year I bet we've cut our monthly bills by a couple hundred dollars. It is actually nice to just get back to the basics. It is amazing how much extra stuff and services are included with everything. We also are reassing what we bring home. I have to admit, I use to use mindless shoping as a way to blow off steam, but now before every purchase we think - how often are we really going to use this? In a year is this something we still will want? This also helps cut back on the junk and clutter around the house.

These are probably the top five things we do to cut back on expenses. They are really pretty painless too. I haven't noticed too big of a diffence in our quality of life over the last few years. Of course, nothing can replace good budgeting, which we are constantly working on. If any one knows of good websites or tricks for saving please do share. We are always on the look out to save a quick buck or two.



You learn the coolest things on PBS! Yes, I am that big of a dork.
Did you know that when you enter one of these: word verifications on a website you may just be helping the New York Times or be updating an old book? It is called recapture. You see, many companies and agencies are scanning their old publications, articles, and books into computers but the old print from these publications are sometimes uneven and ill spaced, making it impossible for a computer to read them. So, a brilliant computer scientist came up with the idea that if we can decipher the above word that we would be able to also decipher these old scanned words.

This is commonly used when you see two different words, you know, those fuzzy ones with lint and lines through them. Well, thanks to us and these verifications being used on popular websites like Facebook and Myspace over 20 years of word decoding has already been completed. How cool is that!

I know, I know, I am a dork - but innovative, efficient ideas like this are exciting to me.


The past month . . .

I realize that when I am not bored at work I don't really blog that well. Hmm. This might be an issue. Catch up . . .

New job is going well. I hope it will lead to promotions and a fine "career" in the future. I'm still in training so my first promotion may be a ways off just yet. Jeff starts at the PT office in the next week or two. During my week off I read a couple great books - Water for Elephants and Forever Amber. Yes, I actually read Forever Amber. It was like a more raw Casablanca set in London. My favorite line was - "Amber is the exact type of woman every man wants for his mistress but not for a wife." This character does not emulate me in any sense, but it was entertaining. As soon as the The Outsiders comes in from my hold I can't wait to read that one too.

I also painted a couple of dressers to make a larger TV stand and conducted our first yard sale. I'm still waiting to feel inspired on the design for the pillows I want to sew for the sofa. When I get the Livingroom finally all set up I'll take a couple shots and show the before and after.

We have been having just a great few weeks of lazy hanging out - it has been awesome! This past Memorial Day weekend we saw Flight of the Concords, a bonus free show of Youth Group at Wasted Space and a couple movies. My favorite part of the weekend though was when our upstairs was too hot to sleep (who puts 1 air conditioner on the ground floor of a 2 story house? It makes for a toasty upstairs! I have Ice Princess coming to see what we can do next week) we dragged down the Futon Mattress into the living room and stayed up watching movies till wee hours. I felt like a little kid building a fort in the middle of the living room. It was so much fun! I think this may be necessary this weekend too, while we wait for the repair men to come out, but I don't mind, it's just too much fun.


Lazy Bliss

I just received great news! Not only did I find a job but due to some technical issues my start date was just postponed a week. What does that mean? Well, since I have already given my 2 weeks notice at my current job, that means a week with NO WORK!

My mind is running full of things I can do. I have not had a week off like this since . . . High school maybe? I am reserving it all for lazy home FUN! I need to get a list of books to read and stock up on some crafty supplies. I am thinking, catch up on some reading, finally sew pillows for the couch and do some painting. Yep! That sounds like a plan.

Any suggestions on what to read or maybe an activity to do? I have a WHOLE WEEK after all. Nothing too pricey though, because this also means a week with no pay.

Our family is being so blessed lately, we have so much to be greatful for!


Are "Box" Pianos ready for a come back?

I think so! I have had a strange obsession with "box" pianos, or square piano's as they are usually called, ever since I saw Sense and Sensibility. The piano that Cornell Branden gives Mariann at the end is to die for! I am in love with that piano. Below is a picture of a similar box piano from the 1700's.

These pianos became popular in the 1700's because they were easy to make and affordable for most middle class families. They are somewhere between a traditional harpsichord and normal piano.

I think they should make a come back! Why couldn't they be a great alternative to middle class families now? If they were inexpensive to make once they could be again, with the right people of course. Why should we limit this beautiful style of piano just to museums and well to do living rooms where they are so out of tune and damaged many of them can not even be played? I think we are ready for them. In these economic times, people are downsizing their homes and getting ride of the theories that bigger is better. We could use a smaller piano along with smaller cars and smaller debt. Wouldn't a piano like the one below look fabulous in a more modern home? This is one of the earliest style of this piano and I love it the most for it's small size and clean lines.

True, there are some draw backs to box pianos. Most box piano's only have 60 keys, their sound and touch is lighter than a normal piano, and they are limited to only one or two actions. Near the end of the 1800's box pianos started to become too big with the new style of grand box pianos, I hear they were hard to tune too.

I, for one, think that the style and look out weigh these negatives and only wish a piano maker would start a new line of these pianos. I would be first in line to buy one. I wish I was talented enough to make them myself. I told Jeff the other day that if I thought I had the talents to choose any job I wanted, I would be a carpenter who made furniture. Making a box piano might be even better than that. For now, I guess these awesome pianos will just be a dream, until I have the funds to buy one of my own antique box pianos.


Ward Callings

I know ward callings must be inspired. Yesterday I was called to be a Nursery Leader in our ward. What a perfect birth control method for me to delay my baby hunger pangs. I thought it was hilarious, it's just what I wanted.

Jeff was called to be a Ward Missionary, which I know he will be amazing at. I think wards are always so much better once you have a calling and feel a part of it all. I'm looking forward to it, now after 6 months with those kids it might be another story, but for now I'm excited.

Has anyone been a Nursery Leader before? Any tips for survival?


Pimpin' myself

So, the economic down turn finally hit the LVVWD. I found out on Monday that I am one of one hundred employees that are being laid off. I know SO many people are searching right now but if you hear of anything please let me know :)

I have 4 years of experience working in the mortgage/financial field and almost 2 years in administration. At the LVVWD I work in Management Services and do great things like research, plan conferences, write letters, support public and private meetings, etc. I have a BA in History and Political Science. I'd love to stay in administration but I understand this is not the best time to be picky so I am pretty open to whatever jobs you hear of.

Sorry to pimp myself out on my families blog but, as I'm the breadwinner in the family right now while Jeff goes to school, this is our biggest concern at the moment. Personal networking can't hurt :)


Thinking it over

I am enjoying Domino's online blog and picture archives while I still can. Domino was canceled earlier this year and I am so sad to see them go. This morning I spotted a great little chair and a half/love seat thing that I desperately want for our office. I couldn't find where it's from but I love, love, LOVE it.

I love that it looks like is would actually be comfortable to sit on but still has clean lines. I'm sure if it is in Domino that it is out of the price range we have for office furniture - but it is a great inspiration piece.

Another great inspirational piece is this ottoman that I want for my living room coffee table. Of course same source, I'm assuming very expensive. I've been looking for ottomans and have a hard time finding one under $200. I just can't justify spending that much on a furniture accessory. Still, this is beautiful.

I am thinking I might take this on as DIY project. I think I figured out how I could do it. For the cushion, buy foam and peg board, attach, upholster foam and pegboard and use the holes already in the pegboard to measure and do the tufting. Attach this to wood base and legs bought from Lowes or any upholstery shop. It doesn't seem that hard? I'm sure if I attempted this though it would not look this good, it would however, be a heck of a lot cheaper! If only my grandpa's lived in town I'm sure they would help me do it.


Jeff's belated 2008 END OF THE YEAR MIX

I finally brought Jeff's IPOD into work with me today. Here is Jeff's annual end of the year mix he made for 2008. It includes all his favorite songs that were released last year.

It Takes More:

1) I Woke Up Today - Port O'Brein
2) Kids - MGMT
3) The Greatest Man That Ever Lived - Weezer
4) Hair Don't Grow - Annuals
5) Use Somebody- Kings of Leon
6) Beautiful - Ian Shane Tyler
7) Dady's Gone- Glasvegas
8) Your New Twin Sized Bed- Death Cab for Cutie
9) About To Walk- Throw Me The Statue
10) Keep Yourself Warm- Frightened Rabbit
11) Dry Lips- Lightspeed Champion
12) Think I Wanna Die- Somebody Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
13) Constructive Summer- The Hold Steady
14) The Girl- City and Colour
15) After Hours- We Are Scientists
16) Over and Out- Alkaline Trio
17) Paper Planes- MIA
18) More News From Nowhere- Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds

My favorite songs on the list are "I Woke Up Today," "The Girl" & "After Hours." Jeff and I found Port O'Brein at a show we went to in San Diego. We were there for a second honeymoon and stopped by the local Beauty Bar to see Somebody Still Loves You Boirs Nelson and Port O'Brein was the opening act. That was one of the most fun shows I've ever been to. Their energy was amazing, we fell in love with them and snatched up a CD.

My other two favorites are just great songs. I love both the bands and these songs were definately the highlights on their new albums. I love these end of the year mixes that Jeff makes. They are like little soundtracks to what we've been listening to the last year and almost every song brings back memeories of a time, place or day we've had.


Cool Free Generators

The web is an amazing place. There are so many cool things to find out there it's crazy. Here are a few of my favorite free websites found via blogs, google and some boredom:

Personalized Obama Poster Maker:

Makes your own handwriting font:

Japanese website that makes pictures look like their
old & antique :

Converts digital photos into Polaroids:

Free Poster/Concert Ticket Generator :

More cool ideas:

I need someone to show me how to make just one word a link without writing the whole address.


How do you know when it's time for a baby?

This last week one of my co-workers told me she was expecting twins! I was so excited for her but also felt my heart sink. Why does it seem I am the only 26 year old married person I know without any children? Babies seem to be everywhere. It's not only that we do not have children but that it will most likely be some time before we do. I'm glad that we are waiting until we are really ready, prepared, and secure. I know I will appreciate the wait when I am able to work part-time or stay at home with our kids.

To ward off my baby hungry moments I keep a little notebook by my bed at home and at work. I put little notes and ideas about crafts, games, education, advice to myself, anything I think of dealing with motherhood. One day it may be a good resource for me, but for now, it helps me feel like I am at least preparing in some way. It is dawning on me, a little late I know, that families do not just happen. I must take ACTION and work towards it everyday. Action may very well be my favorite word of the moment, or mantra for the year.

As much as I want to be a mother and look forward to it with great anticipation, I also have this other side of me that is terrified by the whole process. First off, being pregnant does not seem like fun. It seems so alien to have an actual human in your stomach. Ick! I know it is suppose to be beautiful but I think it is weird. Second, having a child is such a huge responsibility. I can not even imagine how much parents must have to give of themselves.

So how will we know when it's the right time for us to have children and add on to the Bame family? And what should I do in the mean time to to help quench my baby hunger?

(Please, if you read this and know my mother do not tell her I'm baby hungry. She can be very persistent if she wants a grandchild.)


Decorating Dilemma- HELP!

I found a great dresser today at lunch in a thrift store. I love Mid-Century Modern (MCM) furniture but have a hard time finding any- and there it was at the thrift store. The dresser is only $100 with a head board (we have the money on hand thanks to generous grandparents who give cash for Christmas).

My only hesitation is that it is not a true vintage piece. Although it may have been made 50 years ago, the dresser is not solid wood but a veneer. I also think I detected plastic parts -ick! Now, if this was a better made dresser it would likely be 5-7x more expensive - so I can get the look but for less. However, I still hesitate if it is worth it. The furniture we have now is fine - it works - yes it's IKEA, but it works. Do I buy this piece now or do I hold out for a few years until we can afford a quality piece? If I truly had my way I would have a fantastic, well made, dove and tail jointed, solid wood, TRUE antique dresser. Something from the Chippendale era or maybe Georgian - kind of like this-

Not exactly like this but similar, something so amazing I couldn't even find a picture of it online. I would pair it with an upholstered tufted head board. I like a little softer and romantic lines for the master bedroom in general. (We actually found two dream pieces a few months ago down in the arts district but didn't have the 2 grand on hand to purchase them- still sad.) I also think Jeff would prefer something a little more traditional around the house. Right now we are very modern and sleek, he prefers hand carved, sturdy, and timeless.

So my question is, do I buy the cheaper imitation right now that is a great bargain or should we wait and get something more substantial and grand down the road? Another option would be to buy now and buy later. The thrift store dresser could be passed down to a child or a guest room down the road.

Also to note- I most likely will never have the grand house that would pull off a great antique piece of furniture. We live in Las Vegas after all- the most antique thing you can buy here that fits it's geographic location is Mid-Century. Something from the 1800-1920's might look out of place.



Thanks to Heather, I now know where the popularity of my name came from. It was a book written in 1944 called 'Forever Amber.' It was a provocative romance novel that continued to be the best selling novel all through the 40's. It was so controversial that Boston banned the book.

Am I narcissistic because now I want to read the book or rent the movie? I 've always wanted to know where my name came from, short of my mom liking the name of a college roommate named Amber.

Does anyone else have an obsession with their name. It is a running joke in my family. People give me candles, fragrances, jewelry, basically anything dealing with my name. I also like monograms. Does anyone else have these issues? Where does your name come from?