Monday, June 20, 2011

The Best Travel Survival Kit

I'm about to leave for Hawaii (The Toad loves her some sun and surf), and at this point I'm pretty much an island packing expert. So, for the friend or relative you have who's about ready to fly off to the tropics (or pretty much anywhere else), here's a super travel friendly product kit you can assemble and send to them in no time flat.

Keep in mind that the airlines are still stuck on those 3 oz. bottles of stuff, so giving people travel sized products is a welcome relief from the pouring and concocting into little bottles (which don't work well, and are a nightmare to clean out).
First, a good cleanser. Yes to Carrots makes a great, paraben free exfoliating one that'll scrub off all that sunscreen and sand without poisoning the environment. It smells good and works well.
Second, a great moisturizer. Look no further than Dr. Hauschka Rose Day Cream. Yes, it seems all sticky and heavy, but nothing protects and nourishes quite like it. It smells lovely (without artificial fragrances), gives that youthful dewy glow, and lasts forever. It's also perfect for those harsh dry plane climates.

Of course, there's also the dry skin everywhere besides the face to contend with, and Weleda's Skin Food does the job. It's another "green" product, it's thick and comforting, and it banishes lizard skin (elbows and knees, anyone?) in an instant. Plus, it's thick enough that there's no nasty leakage issues to worry about.

And how about hair? While I'm in favor of simply buying shampoo and conditioner once you've landed, I do find this Oscar Blandi dry spray shampoo to be a godsend. It just kills the grease dead, and adds a ton of body, too. But if deep conditioning in the tropics is a priority, pick Weleda Rosemary Hair Oil too. It's good to have options.

And, finally, some excellent delicate laundry soap from The Laundress for the dainties (really, it works wickedly well for bathing suits). This is superior to Woolite and smells nice. And that's good after a day spent in that wet, sandy suit that smells like the sea. Because that sea smell isn't so lovely a day or two later, and just rinsing the suit really doesn't do the trick.

So, that's the Best Travel Survival Kit I can come up with for a beach vacation (although it's really awesome for any type of vacation, anywhere. And you can find all these products, every last one, at 3 Fluid Oz.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Summer Necklace Indulgence

Normally, The Toad isn't a big funky jewelry person. I'm a lazy jewelry person, who wears the same nice, tasteful pieces day in and day out, even to special occasions. However, with the current jewelry trends leaning big and artsy, this piece caught my eye.

This pyramid necklace, a limited edition piece, is cool, organic, and a bit mysterious. Carried by the half blog, half retail site Of A Kind (a really well thought out site that you should visit constantly, just to read about whatever the Of A Kind people think is cool, because it probably is cool), this is not your ordinary adornment. A handmade wooden pyramid enrobes a chunk of pyrite, also known as fool's gold. What does this mean? And what kind of statement are you making if you wear it, or if you give it someone? Is there energy to extract, wisdom to be found from fool's gold? Or, is all that energy and effort simply a fool's errand? Perhaps I'm reading a tad too much into a basic piece of jewelry that would really spark up a plain tank top and linen drawstring pants. This is what happens when you give a Toad three cups of coffee.

At $134, this is a gift for someone you like a lot, and know their tastes backwards and forwards. Find it (and tons of other incredibly cool items) at Of A Kind.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Great Design for Free: Pass It On

Sometimes the best gifts aren't gifts at all, but simply recommendations. Here's one for your design happy, furniture obsessed, paint color crazed giftee. And it's free!

The latest design craze right now are online publications. These things are scaring the crap out of print design mags, and I totally get it: these online magazines look gorgeous and professional, you don't have to wait for them to arrive or buy them at a newsstand, and they're often devoted to a single sensibility. Prairie Hive is such a publication. Started in Tulsa, OK by a group of decorating women, Prairie Hive is a modernist magazine with a decidedly reasonable flair. You won't find snotty, over decorated interiors designed by over priced designers and resided in by celebrities. Its decidedly lacking in $100,000 rooms. There will be no "cribs." No, just great combining of modernist, funky, and affordable design, created by real people. Prairie Hive reminds me a bit of Domino, but perhaps that's because I'm still mourning that mag's passing; I'd like all decorating magazines to resemble Domino.

For this "gift," all you have to do is forward the Prairie Hive site. How's that for easy?

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Prehistoric Friend

With someone near and dear to me preggers, I suddenly have revived interest in checking out baby items. There are so many "requirements" now for mothering, from $1600 strollers (see my post regarding this) to the fanciest bedding (soon to be barfed upon until it looks like piles of old dishtowels), that we often lose sight of the smaller items that baby really likes.

While it's impossible to predict what object the baby will attach to (a blankie, a thumb, some hideous bear), it's a nice idea to plant cute objects around, just hoping the baby will take interest. That's why I like this cute knit Dino so much. It's not some stupid bear. It's not gender specific (all right, some will argue with that statement, but since when is Stegosaurus a guy thing?). And it has no detachable parts to end up baby's gaping maw as she tries to suck the life out of poor Dino. Plus, since it's cotton, baby won't end up with a mouthful of fuzz.

Olive and Cocoa, purveyors of our prehistoric friend, wrap him beautifully in a wood crate with ribbon. At $48, he's a gift that might outlast even the fanciest stroller. But if not, at least he's cute. At Olive and Cocoa.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Perfect for Dad... or the Sucker of Your Choice

Father's Day, that most puzzling of gifting holidays, is approaching fast. While moms will usually be satisfied with cold cereal in bed and a bunch of daisies (not really, but we've learned it's best to go with the flow, and then demand the rest of the day to ourselves), dads end up with strangely useless and impersonal items.

So I found this Father's Day gift item in the New York Times Magazine. It was one pricey ad. It's for the ultimate Father's Day present, a sculpture by the "artist" Marsha Tosk, entitled "Fish Out of Water." This witty word play is a polyresin fish wearing a hat (a la Madmen) and carrying a little newspaper, presumably on its way to either the train to work or an extra long bathroom session. Artist Tosk describes her wordplay art as a reaction to the recession and a way to find humor in the world. At $1200 a piece, one can only assume that Tosk's clients aren't similarly oppressed by the recession, although they may still retain a basic sense of humor (hard to know with the comfortably wealthy). Naturally, Ms. Tosk's site wouldn't permit me an image grab, so you'll have to visit the Marsha Tosk site to get a good look at Mr. Workaday Fish. However, I managed to grab another of her pieces, "Pig In A Blanket", which is close enough (and would perhaps remind Dad of cocktail hours gone by).

I'm now going to advise your children to rip off this wordplay, and use it in their very own art for their very own Father's Day cards. Dad will like something homemade, and he'll also appreciate that you didn't spend $1200 bucks on a fish with an identity crisis.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Dignified Doodling

I may have mentioned some posts back that I love beautiful pens and pencils (even though my penmanship, like almost everyone else's who taps on keyboard all day, stinks). I've been searching around for a source for these incredible pencils for months now, and it looks like I finally found one.

As you can see, these pencils are special, if only in how they look (I've yet to actually sharpen any of mine, lest they lose their perfection). Sleek, streamlined, perfect colors for the modern office, these pencils radiate true zen efficiency. They are, of course, manufactured by the Japanese stationer Ito-ya, a company which has a confusing, inscrutable, mostly Japanese site with no sign of how to order anything. A stateside source, Turpan, has two locations: one in the Hamptons and one in Brentwood (in the Country Mart), both in rarified air, and boasting a site that's nothing more than a tease of perfect items you can't order online (I suppose you could call, but how much of a Luddite do you take me for?).

Thus, I finally found the Japanese pencil site Pencils JP, that sells the coveted Ito-ya pencils in four perfect colors, to display on your perfect desk, and use to draw imperfect doodles. While these are no bargain, at roughly $22/bunch at Turpan (I can't do the yen/doller switch in my head), they're a wonderful gift for anyone who takes their desk time very seriously. At Pencils JP.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Bad Exposure

Yes, now that it's June I must get on the Summer Train. There's plenty of wonderful summery objects and products to extoll. First, though, I need to have some fun.

The Toad is an amphibian who loves some summer water fun, and she loves a great bathing suit. So, when I find one that absolutely is unflattering, an overpriced upscale designer product, AND can't even be worn in the water, I have to wail my disgust. This is such a bathing suit. Found in Shopbop's sale selection (still at a hefty price), this "one piece" bathing suit is from designer Herve Leger, known primarily for those bandage dresses that make starlets look like sausages. It's so lovely that he's decided to extend his penchant for the squished and tubular to bathing suits. My general rule of thumb is that, if an item looks crappy on the model, it will look doubly crappy on you. So check it out. What the hell is up with this model's belly button? Is the vertical navel the new body rage? This suit is so nasty, so unforgiving, that it manages to contort and distort a woman whose body fat is likely below 15 percent. Quite an accomplishment, Herve!

It didn't actually say in the short online explanation that this work of art couldn't be submerged in the ocean (or even a salt water pool), but I've read elsewhere that this is so. That fact makes this suit even more of an outrage: she looks awful, and she can't even hide it underwater.

For a better selection of affordable suits that stay on, wear well, and are flattering for real figures, try Athleta instead. And leave this Leger lingering on the sale site forever.