Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Give This Toad a Home

Spring seems to have officially sprung, judging from the Abraham Darby roses just starting to bloom in my yard. And as the garden unfurls into verdant brilliance, it becomes home to many things: bugs, hummingbirds, nasty crows, mocking squirrels. But could you make room for one more needy being?

I'm talking about my brethren here. I mean, just look at this Toad! He brings his very own toadstool. He's willing to sit politely. He makes no noise. And he certainly won't hang upside down from the grape arbor, munching on bunches of ambrosial purple goodness like a squirrel version of Bacchus at a wine tasting room (I actually witnessed a squirrel perform this feat in my garden). No, this Toad will be well behaved and give your giftee's garden an amphibious grace.

Made of sturdy cement and complete with dirt spike, this Toad is ready to move right in. Find him at It'll put "spring" in his step.

Perfect Portion Proportions

You have to face facts: losing weight is just hard. The pits, really. And I'm not talking about doing some silly fad diet or juice fast (talk about navel gazing self-involvement). I'm talking about reconfiguring your lifestyle. And it always helps to do it with a friend.

Enter these portion control bowls. Yes, this set of one larger and one smaller white porcelain bowls looks suspiciously like any other set of bowls. But they're different on the inside. Those little decorative lines are actually portion measurements, giving you handy guidance to "normal" sized portions designed for "normal" people, not the gluttonous Cheesecake Factory shovelfuls of food that passes for "normal" in this fat country. Buy a set for yourself, a set for your weigh-in partner, and start controlling your quantities. Of course, it might help to exercise together and cut out some of the fun food items, but all in good time.

These bowls are specially priced through And please, do yourself a favor and skip the cheesecake.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

New item on Find A Tadpole!

It's Lilly Pulitzer for little girls! Face it: you can't wear it, but maybe your kid can. Go to Find A Tadpole now.

A Cautionary Chicken Tale

Today, in honor of the upcoming Easter (and Happy Passover to alternate celebrants), I'm offering up a dryly funny good read as a gift to everyone.

This cautionary chicken tale points out the absurdity of trying to raise chickens on your own. Yes, I know it's a popular concept right now, even in the flats of Los Angeles, but I still think it's a bit nuts. You want chickens, go live on a farm. And by the way, the writer of this sad story lives in a rural neighborhood and STILL ran into difficulty. Chickens, you see, can be foul.

So buy some Peeps and settle in for a short but satisfying read at The picture at right is of the actual gang of roosters. And I do mean gang. These guys could give the Crips a run for their money.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Easter Seal

That poor Easter Seal. Every year, he goes out to campaign and is trounced by that chocolate peddling bunny. This year, I thought I'd help him out, so that he may have a prominent spot in your child's Easter basket.

Last year I included (don't tell the Rabbit) this Harbor Seal puppet in my daughter's Easter basket, lounging amongst the foil covered eggs on a bed of Easter grass masquerading as seaweed. It was very lovely and nature inspired, although someone did comment that he looked dead. But he was NOT dead; he was just resting. Anyway, he was a total hit: my daughter is still having puppet shows starring the endangered pinniped. Plus, he looks so real, it's a great way to scare the dog if bored.

Seriously, give the Easter Seal your support! I've located the cheapest price, at It's way better than some big bunny wearing a bow tie.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Go to Find A Tadpole for a New Kid Book Entry!

Personalized books can help your child through tough milestones. Check out the Change is Strange series at Find A Tadpole.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Bunny Gets the FInger

Don't worry: Bunny literally gets the finger! Just in time for Easter, too.

With this ring, Bunny gets to live on a finger, perhaps your child's or a friend's. In ultra-fancy gold or silver tone, this Bunny figurine ring is ideal as an Easter basket extra. It's adorable and delicate, a metallic harbinger of Spring. It endures far longer than a stuffed rabbit. And, it's a super inexpensive way to round out a deluxe Easter basket. It's just twelve bucks! Plus, it comes with ritzy black rhinestone eyes for a little extra flash and dazzle.

Hop over to The Bunny ring awaits a good finger.

FREE Kid-Friendly Haggadah at Find A Tadpole!

Yes sir! It's a freebie today just in time for Passover Seder. Check it out at

Morning Savings

Yes, yes, we all know daylight savings has arrived. We're dragging our sorry asses around and blasting our little ones out of bed with dynamite. Who knows why a measly little hour can wreak such havoc. Such fragile beings, we humans.

This new item might make morning a bit easier to bear. The new docking station from iLuv combines a docking station for an iPhone, an alarm clock, a movie/YouTube playing mini-theater and a speaker system in one little package. All this functionality makes it perfect for travel and brutal awakenings alike. Seriously, people, this is a great little item, since you can charge that thing every night and use it as your clock, too. It virtually guarantees that your iPhone will be forever charged and ready to go during operational daytime hours. Buy it for the traveling friend or family member, too.

The charger, at 90 bucks, is probably only for those you hold near and dear. Everyone else can suffer the wakeup blues. Find it at

Monday, March 22, 2010

Orphaned Bunny

It's easy enough to purchase a lifetime supply of chocolate eggs and marshmallow chickies in honor of Easter. It's a bit harder to include a non-edible basket centerpiece that's not totally obnoxious.

You know what I mean. The huge, scary, floppy bunnies that show up from grandma or whomever, that get stuffed into a corner of your kid's room, only to frighten the hell out of you late one night (in the dark, the resemblance to the nasty Donnie Darko dead bunny is uncanny). Who needs these things? No one! That's why you should recommend a "Foundling" bunny this year to all your basket giving friends and relatives. This bunny is small and adorable, undyed and unadorned, perfect for kids of all ages or even the dog. And it's NOT scary.

Cure yourself of bunny phobias and order the Foundling from He'll make you hoppy.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Coffee Crusader

There's time to be quiet, proper, and good. And then there's time to be quietly profane. Like at Easter Brunch.

Although Easter is rife with hopping bunnies and chocolate eggs, it really is a very religious holiday. Even as you're chowing down that eggs benedict at brunch while slugging some fair trade coffee, you should have some reminder present of what the holiday's all about. These mugs do just that. Called "Crusades", each mug (and piece of china in the line) contains flights of WWII era planes and little Jesus-on-the-crosses (which look almost just like the fighting planes). Profane? Probably. Stylish and witty as hell (you bet). Just make sure that if you choose pieces from this line to decorate your table (or someone else's), that no one's going to be mortally offended. You have been warned.

I've only seen this line, called New English, at Table Art in Los Angeles. Order at, and add a little controversy to the Easter Brunch.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Bikini Solution

I know. It's hard to imagine squeezing a pallid, winterized, scaly frame into a bikini. But it will happen soon. And you might as well be prepared.

Now, like every woman, The Toad has bikini issues. Used to be the tops that were the problem: hardly anything fit the lack of bustage. But now, with the added ten or so pounds (fine, fifteen), it's the bottoms (with that gross hip fat rolling over), that's the new issue. Plus, I actually need a suit that stays on, since I like to frolic in the waves. Luckily I've found some great suits, through Athleta. All their suits look pretty stylish and poolside worthy, yet they're made of tough stuff and are designed for real aquatic activities. The top and bottom pictured are what The Toad ordered and loved (honestly, it looked great and there was no disgusting pinching of flesh anywhere), but there are plenty of styles and colors to choose from. Plus, the models are real, athletic women, not Brazilian pubescents with premature boob jobs. Sure, these models are in wicked shape, but they earned it by surfing, biking and running. And ordering bathing suits online means you can check them out on your body in real lighting that won't make your butt look like the surface of the moon.

Peruse your suit choices at And no, this isn't a gift for someone else. It's a gift to yourself, to make catching some rays a little less painful.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

Keep Away From Elijah

Let's face it: the terms "yummy dessert" and "Passover Seder" aren't usually uttered in the same breath. While this traditional jewish holiday boasts many great foodstuffs, the cardboard-like flourless parve desserts aren't usually amongst them.

But perhaps this chocolate orange Passover torte from venerable Zingerman's will make you pass over that assumption. Zingerman's uses matzo meal, almonds, high quality orange oil and the highest quality (Callebaut ring any bells?) chocolate to create one rich, delicious confection. It's a dessert worthy of that homemade gefilte fish (which the kids look at with horror), the hopefully light and fluffy matzo balls floating in perfectly seasoned soup, and the classic brisket. The exception? The Manischewitz wine. Nothing can really improve on that in any positive way.

Make haste! Order this torte immediately at And know that you'll have to steer Elijah away from this confection and toward the Manischewitz.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Saggy Bottom Blues

Occasionally, The Toad finds something so wretched, so unattractive, so absurd, she feels compelled to post about it, just to complain. This is one of those posts.

I've felt for a while now that those low-crotched harem pants are a very bad idea. It doesn't matter whether you're fat or thin, because you'll look like an elephant in them. I've heard them termed "dump pants," and I think that's their true purpose (sufferers of irritable bowel syndrome, this might be your fashion moment, but it's bad for everyone else). At least when they're in soft jersey or sweat material, though, they have a soft fluidity, a comfy aspect that might work around the house (especially if you live alone and refuse to answer the door when wearing them). But these are harem jeans. Say what? Harem jeans, which mean that the stiff, unyielding denim crotch and tush on these jeans is too long, thus making the wearer look deformed. There is no good way to wear this style. Not with boots. Not with a crop top. And not with hooker platform heels. It's hopeless, people, and this item's very existence makes me fear for fashion's future.

These horrible ill-conceived jeans are at But I have no idea why you'd bother buying them.

Check Out Find A Tadpole for a Great Easter Idea!

Easter's right around the corner! Go to Find A Tadpole and discover great ideas for the holiday.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bringin' Whoopie

As springtime goes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb (or, in L.A.'s case, in like a soggy cat and out like a crabby goat), our hearts turn to the sweeter things in life. You know: chocolate bunnies and those dubious Passover cakes made from reconstituted sawdust. But what if you want something different?

That's where all the fun comes in. Ever heard of Whoopie Pies? Just the name makes me giggle, and the thought of bringing a pile of them to some party fills me with inexplicable glee. There's nothing particularly exotic about these "pies." Originally dreamed up by the Amish (maybe they have more fun than originally thought), Whoopie Pies are yummy cakey cookies held together by creamy filling. And Dean and Deluca offer some of the best, from chocolate to pumpkin to pistachio orange. Bring a dozen to the next soiree and watch the spring pigs swill them up.

Go to and order a mess of Whoopie. Your hosts will be so glad to see you coming.

Travel Bug

Now's just about that time of year when everyone wants to run someplace else. Anywhere else, really. And sometimes that includes air travel, with all its new customs and inconveniences. Carry on is key, but hard to pull off.

That's why this set is so perfect for that frequent (or just hopeful) traveler in your life. Beautifully compressible, rugged and spacious, this set holds dainties, dirties, and toiletries compactly in carry on baggage. Plus, neat and tidy never looked so good. They're sold by those intrepid travel experts at Flight 001, so you know they'll last through many a trans-continental voyage. These bags make packing a breeze.

At $98, these aren't that cheap. But quality travel never is. Find these essentials at Now if only you could help get them an upgrade.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Away to the Circus

Even though it's still pouring down rain in L.A., spring is pretty much here. And with spring comes the dreaded getting back onto shape. But exercise for you and your friends doesn't have to be a drag.

For instance, you could run away to the circus. Cirque School has opened in Hollywood, and it transforms working out into play. Run by real aerial artists (of the Cirque de Soleil category, not Barnum and Bailey), this huge warehouse space is full of stationary trapezes, fabric, ropes, and even a practice tightrope (don't worry, it's just inches off the ground) for developing real aerial skills. I'm not going to lie: the work is challenging. But it's rare to find a workout in which you lose yourself in the challenge and the process so completely. And you'll develop strength and flexibility like crazy.

The school offers both Flexibility (90 minutes of hardcore stretching) and an Aerial Fitness class that's run like a circuit training class (teacher Aloysia keeps you moving and deeply engaged). Check out everything this fabulous school has to offer at And run away forever from boring workout routines!

Monday, March 1, 2010

My Big Fat Sweetie Pie

There's always a good occasion for cookbook giving, especially if it's a really good cookbook. This one, I think, should be an unlikely candidate, yet I've become a reluctant fan.

I speak of the cookbook, Down Home With the Neelys. You're probably familiar with the Neelys, all snuggly and treacly and full of deep love innuendo, as they craft truly sinful southern cuisine. Frankly, their show makes me feel like I need to see the dentist (and a personal trainer). All that cooing and lover's talk is just nauseating. But for some reason, their cookbook fell into my life. And whoa (and woe) I'm sold. Every recipe I've made out of the thing has been a knockout. That's pretty impressive, since I've had cookbooks I just read and never use. The Key Lime Bar recipe is literally to die for, the beef stew rendition the best I've tasted in years. And don't get me started on the chicken with creole mustard sauce. Be warned: this is not diet food. This is special occasion, throw nutrition to the wind sort of food.

Find the Neelys' southern opus at And you might want to order some exercise books while you're there, just for balance and all.