Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Money Grows Under Trees

Forget the tree of life. You know what really should grow on trees? Money, of course. But as that's a biological impossibility, your money hungry giftee will have to make do with this coin bank instead.

Perfect for the parsimonious, this nifty receptacle is ideal for storing all types of loose change (and looks far better than the unruly pile sitting on the top of the dresser). The best thing, though, is the "Money Tree" on top, which seemingly "grows" as more change is added. This may be the most financial growth anyone will see this year (checked your portfolio lately), and really acts as an item of optimism during slim times. Not to mention that the giftee will always know where to find change for feeding the parking meters.

This gift beats a real Money Tree (Asian, found in flower shops) hands down, as it's made of plastic and is impervious to death. Available in classic green or Midas gold. Make it grow at Molla Space.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Art for Experts and Beginners

Admittedly, the Toad may be going out on a tiny tree limb here by recommending you buy art for others. Art is, after all, a purely subjective thing. What you may hang on your wall might be deemed simply hideous by your friend, not even suitable as California basement decor.

Still, I feel compelled to mention this wonderful art site, 20X200, partially because it really does feature a variety of art, much of which is very nice. Fine, maybe not the first choice on a major curator's list, but still looks good on a wall. And some of the pieces are by emerging artists, so a photograph picked up today might be the masterpiece of tomorrow. Here's how the site works: every piece is limited edition (so when it's sold out, it's sold out forever), and each piece comes in three different sizes, ranging in price from $20(!) to $2000. That means you can have the giraffe above (which looks much like more expensive renditions of this theme I've spotted in books and magazines) for anywhere from $20 for a small print to $200 for a larger one... you get my drift.

I'm also recommending 20x200 because I've read a lot of really snotty comments out there recently regarding art, and it annoys. Art should be for everyone, not just the over educated and anointed few. So there.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Looking Like Cargo in Your Pants

Remember a couple of months ago when I posted a picture of some truly heinous drop crotch jeans? Well, this is pants rant part deux.

Normally, I think of cargo pants as a pretty flattering design. They're roomy and floppy, yet sit low on the waist and give an air of total fashion insouciance. Especially if paired with a tiny tank top. But these JBrand cargos are like the polar opposite of real cargos. Stretchy, skintight, unforgiving, they'll make you look literally like a load of cargo. Ignore the pictured anorexic model and just think about the actual design: a pair of "jeggings" with added bulk in the butt (pockets) and on the hips (pockets yet again), plus heavy duty zippers for zero relief from that insatiable grip on your limbs. These pants will make any woman with a marginally normal sized body look like a grenade.

You can find them for a super low priced $240 at Shopbop. But why would you want to find them? Soon, every big butt in town will be sporting them, to very ill effect.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Let Them Eat Dagwoods

Normally, the Toad is against food that masquerades as different kinds of food. Case in point: much of vegan cuisine. Because, who, really, wants to eat tempeh pretending to be a Reuben sandwich? Why does the tempeh feel it has to be something so animal? Can't it just be tempeh?

But this cute cake pan has definite possibilities. The Cakewich pan lets you bake cakes that masquerade as giant sandwiches. Imagine the possibilities: a chocolate sandwich cake housing peanut butter frosting. Or, for a "ladies" tea, delicate lemon cake with raspberry jam (perhaps a bit too twee for me), imitating ham on white (ok, it's either a super goyim ladies tea party, or total white trash time, you decide). This means that you or your giftee will have to do the baking, but there's nothing wrong with a little domesticity every now and then. Flour up and get down to business.

Really, the sandwich possibilities for this gift are endless... sweet triple level Clubs, faux cucumber and cream cheese. Just let your sweet tooth and imagination guide you. At Popdeluxe by Fred and Friends.

Friday, May 14, 2010

High Class Problems

Warning: this is not a gift recommendation, it's a rant.

As an LA mom, the Toad belongs to a Yahoo group called My Favorite Things. It's a group for East Los Angeles mothers looking for... well, everything from restaurant recommendations to baby advice. Some of the posts are thoughtful and heartfelt, but many of them involve domestic help situations, from complaints about cleanliness to peddling them out as if they were indentured servants for more work to unrelated but annoying requests for vacation homes in fancy locales. In short, it's a bulletin board for rich people with high class problems.

This, in and of itself, is fine. Problems are problems, and problems are relative. But, when some clueless woman posted about what to pay an illegal vs. a legal nanny, the Toad took umbrage. First off, it's illegal. Second, it's just lousy. It's looking for cut rate childcare and it takes advantage of those who cannot defend themselves. Plus, it's just moronic to ask such a thing on a public forum.

So the Toad wrote something to post. Then, she wondered: would this post be taken seriously? Would MFT members actually try to be "helpful"? Would some of them take offense and have the Toad banned? I decided to post it here first, for your reading pleasure. Tell me if you think the Toad would be ejected from LA polite online society or not...

To: My Favorite Things

Subject: Seeking Personal Waiter

Hi guys. I’ve grown tired of the iffy and indifferent service offered by L.A. wait staffs, as well as the inconvenience of having to speak into the drive thru speaker myself. I’m currently seeking a Personal Waiter, someone with lots of food service experience who can travel with me, both in and out of town, to serve just my family and myself. I need someone who understands the workings of professional kitchens and can adjust quickly to new environments. A good, clear speaking voice is mandatory (English only, please). The ability to communicate special dietary requests is also paramount; I have a severe pickle allergy and need to be constantly on my guard, so my Personal Waiter would act as a gatekeeper in that regard.

I will supply the uniform and apron. As I have a small vehicle, the Personal Waiter should be of smaller stature. Although I would prefer they be legal, I would consider an illegal for a lower wage.

If you know of anyone who fits this Personal Waiter description, please contact me.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

In a Cookie Galaxy Far, Far Away

Calling all geeks! Seriously. This is the type of gift that seems like it should be in Tadpole and directed at kids, but it's actually an adult gift.

I mean, just look at them. Four cookie cutters representing four of the most memorable characters in the Star Wars trilogy. You know, the real Star Wars movies, not that revolting crap with that creepy Jar Jar Binks. No, these are the real deals: a Stormtrooper, bounty hunter Boba Fett, wise little munchkin Yoda ("eat me, you will"), and that boogey man of that galaxy and every other, Darth Vader. Notice: no Ewoks. Ok, sure, the frosting on the Yoda here looks a lot like Shrek, but you and your cookie decorating guests can make some different choices there. And they would work for your child's birthday party, too. Although your child will never know the intense experience of feeling the theater vibrate as that first glimpse of the Imperial Cruiser moves across the screen (a defining cinematic moment in the Toad's childhood).

These cookie cutters are available only at Williams Sonoma, not in a galaxy far, far away.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A New Way to Hang Out

I'm being facetious here, as no one these days has time to really "hang out" (a term last fully utilized in college, where hanging out is an art form). No, the Toad's talking exercise here, a way to keep all those wobbly bits and pieces from hanging out of bathing suits and skimpy summer wear.

I'm talking about learning some real athletic skills. I'm talking about Cirque School. Located on a block deep in Hollywood (therefore close to the best Thai food in town once all that work leads to a raging appetite), Cirque School teaches the most graceful of circus skills: trapeze (not flying), fabric, chinese pole, contortion, and a host of other amazing strength building skills. Its Aerial Fitness and Conditioning class is a fabulous introduction to this world, an hour of non stop activity (beginning with an often hilarious warm up sequence on exercise balls. You can just imagine). The time literally flies by, and at the end of the class participants are soaked, pumped, and have learned real skills rather than just peddling to nowhere or engaging in endless repetitive movements. It doesn't feel like exercise; it feels like you're a kid again.

This is, unfortunately, a Los Angeles only offering (although I'm sure there's other Cirque style venues in other large cities). Buy a series for a friend (it's an ideal activity to do together). And start productively hanging around. See more at Cirque School.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Disaster of a Gift

So everyone has a friend who just invites disaster. If she has a date, she gets a laser procedure that day and looks like a canned ham. She plans a party and leaves the mayo out in the sun a bit too long (mass food poisoning). She's voted most likely to trip while simply walking down the street; she has a perpetual underwear malfunction.

Yes, it's amusing and tragic. And you might as well play along, since there's no fixing the disaster prone people in your life. Embrace it instead! Give her this Pandora's Box jewelry case. You know the story of this Grecian filly: she was handed a box and told never to open it, yet of course she couldn't resist and managed to spring all the world's ills onto mankind. The one entity that didn't escape the box? Hope. What a wonderful message and sentiment for your catastrophe causing buddy.

At only $30, Pandora's Box leaves you some funds left over for a reasonably priced trinket to stash inside. Find it at Kikkerland. And tell her to never give up.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Miniature Landscapes for Mom

The rush is officially on! Mother's Day is on Sunday, and right now there's a whole lot of people out there, cluelessly asking themselves, "When is Mother's Day again?" Woe to them. Hell hath no fury like a Mommy scorned.

Since we're down to the wire, it's time to pull out the local stops. Like these super cool, totally original little (and some not so little) plantings from notable Atwater Village store Potted. This is no ordinary plant store, and these are not ordinary plants. Every one of these miniature landscapes features a found object as the container (recently, I spotted one made from an old tennis ball canister), and has strategically planted succulents and cacti, as well as random bits of whimsy (crystals, unusual rocks, small plastic toys). Each one is like a little piece of living funky art. And the brilliant thing is, these require very little work. Thus, even a mother with the blackest of thumbs can probably manage one of these plantings (they pretty much will thrive on benign neglect).

These are only locally available, so those out of area readers are out of luck. But for lucky Angeleno moms, one of these tableaus is a wonderful gift. Check it out at If you give them a call, they might build one just for your madre.

LA Blooms For LA Moms

Ok, I know that I ragged all over the idea of flowers in previous entries, but sometimes you realize that flora is really what Mom wants, and part of good gifting is delivering what the giftee desires.

Besides, this is a flowering plant, not an arrangement. That means that it can sit on a table for many months or even years, if properly tended. And it's not just any flowering plant, it's an orchid. A very pretty orchid. For Los Angeles, a very reasonably priced orchid. How does the Toad know this? Hey, she gets around. There's some prohibitively expensive plant life getting delivered this week throughout the LA basin. Like, over a hundred clams for a fancy arrangement that'll just wither and die. These long lived orchids, on the other hand, range between $40-$150 (the plant pictured is the $40 one). That's a great deal!

Unfortunately for those non-Los Angeles dwellers, this service isn't available outside the LA area. Sorry. Go to Orchid Express and do the whole order over that new fangled internet. It'll save you a bundle and impress that mother.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Stylin' Wonder Woman

Yes, that's what you should call your mom from now on. Especially if she's the type of mom who would appreciate this incredibly hip Mother's Day gift.

Now, the Toad's not totally superhero ignorant. She knows that, for true Wonder Woman style, you'd have to purchase two of these seemingly weighty bracelets in gold (this model only comes in silver). But since this is actually a pretty nice present, Mom will have to ricochet bullets off of just one wrist for the time being. Made of pewter coated in silver, this seemingly inflexible band of metal is actually craftily strung together using some sort of super durable elastic. The result? This bracelet is as easy to wear as an old fashioned sweat wristband from the '70s (something Mom can probably recall, however hazily). And it's very lightweight, so she can be comfortably armed and ready for action every single day.

Find this adornment for the Wonder Woman in your life at the Los Angeles store Happy (there's even an online discount for Mother's Day). It might not give her superpowers, but it'll make her feel super special.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mother's Little Helper

Stress is just a killer for mothers, often even on Mother's Day. After all, that breakfast in bed of cereal, burnt toast and freshly squeezed orange juice with the seeds is delicious and all, but the prospect of cleaning a kitchen that looks like scorched earth is enough to keep her in bed for the duration.

Short of a jumbo Ativan prescription, what type of little helper would assist Mother? How about an herbal tea that might actually work? This Kava Stress Relief formula from Yogi Tea is Toad-tested (herself a stressed mother), and was found to be effective. The Toad doesn't know whether the Kava really has enough efficacy in the diluted tea to have a relaxing effect, or if it's just placebo in action. Nor does she care. She thinks it works, and maybe your Mom will think it works, too. Hey, it sure beats an after dinner martini.

This Kava tea is hard to find in stores, so order it from Yogi Tea online. It's the legal Mother's Little Helper.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cubism for Momma

Flowers are the go to gift for Mother's Day. Everywhere you look, the flower peddlers are pushing their perishable wares. And yes, flowers are pretty. But they die. So what about something alive, long lasting, and modernist?

In this case, think cubed. These cube terrariums are like a permanent piece of living art for your Mom's coffee table, office desk, dining table, or window sill. Filled with little air plants, the glassed in tableaus require nothing more than a spritz of water every now and then, so even if Mom has a coal black thumb she can probably keep these lovelies alive (they certainly stand a better chance than those cliched dozen roses, soon to droop and disintegrate within a week).

These comely cubes come in three sizes. You could order little ones as placecard holders for a tres chic Mother's Day brunch, or just order the biggest and let it impact solo. Locate cubes and cublets alike at

Detergent Double Duty

The entire next week is devoted to that most obligatory (and somewhat insulting) holiday, Mother's Day. Don't get the Toad wrong. Mothers deserve nothing but respect, admiration, and foot massages on demand. It's just that a single paltry day per year of fatty brunch and wilting flowers doesn't quite cut it.

Still, one day a year is what we're working with, and you MUST participate in this holiday and buy your maternal figure something. Like this lovely porcelain detergent bottle. While for some, this stylishly plain wrap item only evokes endless hours of slaving in a hot laundry room, other mommies will see the clever irony in this gift. They'll proudly serve milk, iced tea, or rum punch from the distinctive container, and watch the beverage sniffing and paranoia begin. This bottle is both a practical piece and a creamily white veiled threat. Happy Mother's Day!

For the presentation, a single gerber daisy in a pop art color jammed into the top would be most appropriate. Find it at The Curiosity Shoppe. A tiny bottle of Tide, although not included, would be cute too.