Monday, February 28, 2011

Hopping Through Dorkville

Ok, so I admit that sometimes I post stuff just for my own amusement. And this is, at least partially, one of those times.

Just get a good look at this stunning selection of matching Easterwear for boys from The Wooden Soldier. Take it in slowly. Then picture the clueless three year old boy, minding his own business, who's suddenly stuffed into this outfit and made to go out in public. Imagine the humiliation. He's wearing a bunny rabbit sweater and a cap with a carrot on it, for god's sake. With of picture of this tucked away in a family album, it won't matter how many sports he plays in the future or how tall he becomes, because this image will always lurk, waiting to ruin his credibility. I have a feeling the boys' clothing from this catalog has destroyed many a young man's dreams of maturity.

But perhaps I'm being too harsh on The Wooden Soldier. While the boys' clothing is heinous in the extreme, some of the girls' stuff is sort of touchingly retro, in a charming goyische kind of way. There's something reassuring about a catalog that still sells petticoats and purses disguised as Easter baskets; it's nice that some girls will still tolerate this rather than opting for t-shirts emblazoned with "Porn Star" on them (I kid you not: I saw a kid in L.A. wearing one once). 

Check out The Wooden Soldier for your own amusement; it's sort of like Chasing Fireflies, but without any irony whatsoever.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Faux 420

Yes, this is a representation of exactly what it looks like. Hey, I never claimed to be anything but edgy in my gift recommendation choices. And in L.A., this would be a perfectly wonderful, arty gift for a good portion of the population.

This flawless cast porcelain object is the exact replica of the pipe which got its then-teenaged designer busted, when it was discovered in the family's recycle bin (no word on whether the pipe  actually belonged to her or not). I love it for the story behind it (total teenage angst and perhaps injustice), and for the fact that it doesn't function (there's something about useless yet beautiful white porcelain objects that catches my fancy). This is a gift choice for the broadminded yet design addicted giftee on your list. You know who they are.

Find this faux pipe at far4, a fabulous pottery and porcelain site situated in Seattle. I know it's early yet, but wouldn't it make a killer 4/20 gift?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Original Child's Play

When it comes to kiddie decor, I admit to being both fussy and jaded. I don't like Disney. I hate themes. I truly loathe plastic. So, when I come across kid furniture and decor that's fun and original, I jump to promote it.

Take a gander at this Groovy Whale Rider from One Happy Robot, for instance. All kids love rockers, but most of them are pieces of junk (or are too flimsy to support a child; I recall a zebra rocker my kid received for her first birthday that was a study in instability). This rocker is sturdy and so original; it's the first rocking whale I've ever seen, and the colors are bright and fun. One Happy Robot offers lots of furniture and decor options (the owner will even customize items), and the prices are very reasonable. What wonderful original baby gifts these pieces would make.

Check out the wares at One Happy Robot. You could give some lucky kid a rocking good time.

Feeling Sheepy

Life might get totally complicated and strange, but one thing's for sure: babies keep on being born. And when they arrive, they (or their beleaguered parents) demand gifts.

Here's a wonderful baby gift that won't break the bank. It's a "snuggle mat," which is basically fancy talk for a small half rug/half stuffed animal that the baby can abuse. When I saw this, I realized how nice it would have been to have it when my daughter was a baby. The scenario: I get her out of the bath, she's all clean and sweet smelling, and I lay her down on the rug for some "naked time." Next thing I know, she's rolled like a little log off into a corner, still perfectly happy, and peed. This mat might not have preventing the pee, but, with its fluffy head and elevated surface, might have kept her from doing alligator death rolls into the far reaches of the room. Anyway, it's also really cute and way more padded a surface than a blanket. And who doesn't think sheep are adorable?

At $55, this is a gift that looks more expensive than it is, and serves double duty as padding and stuffed animal companion. Find it at RSH.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Simple Simon Will Travel

This is going to age me, big time, but do you remember Simon? The computer game (computer is stretching the term) came on the market just after Pong, and it seemed like a huge improvement. Simon, basically, had you imitate its lights and tones, preferably into infinity. It seemed advanced at the time, but now even a one year old who operates the TV remote could play it.

Which, I think, is sort of the point. Simon was a simple (some would say stupid) game that anyone could master. And now it's been released in a miniature form, on a keychain. Forget the sitting around in a circle, watching the original frisbee sized toy hoot and holler. Now you can hold lilliputian Simon in your hands, operating it as easily as sending a text. Your kid will love it, especially the toddler set. And the droning tones from the backseat will transport you right back to childhood, staring at Simon, wondering what other magical toy would emerge from the wonders of computing. If only you'd bought Apple stock then.

Find the tiny Simon at Perpetual Kid. He's just ten bucks for at least ten minutes of retro fun.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Something Fishy for Spring

Ok, spring isn't officially here yet, but I know that everyone is longing for it and is so very tired of winter. So, what could be better than adding a bit of pseudo nature to the decor?

You've seen all sorts of animals hung on walls, both real and facsimiles. I myself have a gigantic cardboard moose head hanging in my TV room; he adds whimsy, particularly since he looks as if he's watching the TV, too. But this cardboard fish trophy is even better. I've often seen those taxidermied fish displayed on walls, and somehow a stuffed aquatic creature seemed even more obscene than a warm blooded one. How does one preserve scales, anyway? Well, if you buy this big old bass, you won't need to ponder those questions anymore. Mr. Limpet is ecologically and ethically sound, an utterly humane piece of art.

Cast out a line to Pop Deluxe and order him for your room of choice today. He might make an excellent green housewarming gift as well.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Some Serious Art

Looking for something cultured and arty to do in L.A.? How about attend an art opening with an arty friend or loved one? You could even purchase a piece to grace a wall or two.

I'm talking about artist Susan Arena's show, "Imaginary Homelands." Opening Saturday, February 26, the show is a chance to see this celebrated artist's newest work (she's shown in both Los Angeles and New York). Held at the LAAA/Gallery 825, the show brings together some serious talent, most notably Ms. Arena's paintings. Arena specializes in images which look familiar at first, but evoke the anxiety and uncertainty present in our everyday domesticity. And this show, with an emphasis on Egyptian and muslim imagery (gained from actually living in Egypt), is particularly relevant and timely. Go to the opening, enjoy a little wine and some sophisticated conversation, perhaps add a piece to a collection, and then go to dinner in West Hollywood.

LAAA/Gallery 825 is located at 825 La Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood, and Arena's opening begins at 6 pm. Want to learn more about her work? Check it out at her site, And get serious about art and a worthy evening out and about.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Not Your Ordinary Arrangement

No, this isn't your ordinary Valentine's Day arrangement. But hey, if you were ordinary, would you be reading this blog? I think not.

I realize that earlier this week I posted another cactus arrangement, but that one was crocheted and inanimate. This one, fashioned by the Garden Tarts at my favorite garden store Potted in Atwater Village, is prickling with life. Each cacti arrangement is customized by the venerable ladies at Potted, complete with desert diorama flair. They're cute, but sinister. They're alive, but very very difficult to kill (good for those purple thumbed lovers in your life). And, as long as your recipient lives in the LA area, the Potted people will deliver the drought resistant offering to the door of your choice.

The cost? Roughly the same, or even less, than some roses that will wilt in days. Check out the assortment of lasting beauty at Potted now.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

My Creepy Valentine

Do you have an edgy love? The sort who revels in the macabre, the strange, the offbeat? If that's so, then no ordinary Valentine gift will do; you'll have to go that extra creepy mile.

So check out Sweety. This creepy candy headed creature is from Kid Robot, that bastion of Japanese coolness. Everything at Kid Robot is admittedly pretty weird, but our little Sweety here is a Toxic Candy, which makes her particularly appropriate for old V-Day. There's nothing like a present that, if it were in edible form, could kill you and your love forever. She's definitely making a statement here.

This might also be a good Valentine's Day toy for a teen, especially given the braces and all. Find Sweety the Toxic Candy at Kid Robot. And give someone the creeps.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Instant Valentine's Day Meal!

The Valentine's Day meal is always a conundrum. Going out sounds ok, but it's actually the worst night of the year for eating out (I remember once leaving a restaurant on V-Day because my entree hadn't arrived after two hours of waiting. Being murderously hungry is not romantic). But the alternative, eating in, usually means someone has to cook, and unless you're a culinary wizard this option is fraught with risk.

That's why, for Los Angeles foodies celebrating the big pink and white day, Saveurs is your savior. Saveurs has a heralded and deserved reputation for amazing French cuisine that's ready to heat and eat. Right now, it's offering a special V-Day menu (duck confit, anyone?) for two. That's four glorious courses, perfectly prepared and seasoned, ready for you to heat up and serve proudly as your own. Imagine: delicious finger sized appetizers (ideal for popping into one another's mouths), a perfectly gorgeous and sophisticated mache salad, the aforementioned duck confit (or another entree like grass fed lamb stew), and a chocolate fondant cake for dessert. Yum!

Order now and order fast, since they're only accepting orders through the evening of February 9th. It's $100 for two, or $140 for dinner with a bottle of champagne, a total deal for better food (and service) than anything you'll find out there in the V-Day fray. Go to the Saveurs site now and email them with your order.

Prehistoric Love

I've been seeing commercial after obnoxious commercial recently, pushing horrid diamond heart pendants upon unsuspecting women. This is wrong. If you're going to give jewelry for this silly Valentine's Day, make it witty, please.

Like these dinosaur pendants. No, they are not encrusted with diamonds (although there are gold versions of them, for more moola). They cannot be worn to the opera, or a wedding, and they might not be considered everyday jewels. But they're so cute. Little silver T-Rex or Brontosaurus, just hanging out eons after extinction. Such a gift just screams, "My love for you dates back to the Jurassic," and what's more romantic and well meaning than that? Plus, it's sure to get comments and compliments from the playground set (and those kids sure do know fashion).

The silver versions of these pendants are just $70, not bad and way better that anything a generic jeweler has to offer. Did I mention that the metal is all recycled?  Find them at Turtle Co. They're the epitome of Big Love.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Most Highly Regarded Woman in Your Life

A word of warning: this is both a cute and a gag Valentine's Day gift. If you're looking for romantic elegance, you might want to skip this post.

So you love your lady.  You love everything about her. You love her so much, you think flowers come out of her butt. Yeah, you heard right. And this mermaid vase epitomizes that belief. Just look at her, all turquoise and dreamy, with that scaled tail and, surprise, flowers bursting out of her nether regions. She's funky and fabulous. She's so fabulous, in fact, that you could jam any type of flower in there and it would work (except carnations. Please, gentlemen, don't purchase carnations for your lady. They indicate intense cheapness). This gift will only work if you and the lady in question have a certain sensibility and a sense of humor; women looking for dozens of roses are not good candidates.

Find Ms. Ariel the Mermaid gone floral at At West End. And let your love bloom in the most unlikely places.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Shine A Green Light on Valentine's Day

In theory, I support green products, but I rarely feature them, mostly because many of them are pure marketing without the actual greenness to back them up. But this candle is different, and would be a wonderful V-Day surprise for your environmentally conscious boy or girl.

Called EkoMiko, the candle is designed as a dual green and romantic statement. Actress and activist Izabella Miko sourced every element for this candle, seeking out the greenest companies to create the wax (coconut based and good for massage), the wicks, the holder (made from a recycled wine bottle), and the box (from the printing to the cardboard it's printed on). A lot of thought, energy and work went into these candles, both from an environmental and utilitarian standpoint. For Valentine's Day, it's a present that lights  your evening, perfumes your air, and gives you some luscious coconut wax to rub all over each other. And you'll know all the while it's guilt free. What's not to love?

Each candle burns for 50 hours, which should be sufficient time to declare your adoration. Find them, and read more about them, at EkoMiko.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Coffee = Love

Now there's a simple equation for you. Everyone blathers on about the Valentine's Day evening and how great and romantic it all is, with the crummy restaurant service and too much wine, and then in the morning it's like a herd of cows stampeded through your mouth, and all you can think of is "coffee." Ah, romance.

That's why this is such a great, if slightly pricey, V-Day gift. Meet the Presso, a beautifully designed and manually operated espresso machine. Just pack the coffee area tightly, pour hot water in and press it down. Or, get your partner (who presumably is there dealing with his/her own herd of cows) to press it down for you, while you get to watch the chivalrous effort and bulging biceps. The real gift, of course, is the excellent espresso, nectar of the gods, at the end of this process. Did I mention the Presso is easily portable, so you can take it to a hotel for the weekend? Plus, when it's unfurled, it looks strangely like a uterus, which seems appropriate for at least half the recipients of a V-Day gift (I don't really know if that observation is a value added, but I had to say it).

This is, as I mentioned, a spendy gift: $150. But it's way more useful than flowers or candy, and it's an energy efficient product to boot. Check it out at Presso. And give some caffeinated love.