Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Ring My Bell

As an L.A. native, I confess little to no experience with the bicycle as an official mode of transportation. The urban cyclists here are taking their lives in their hands the moment they roll onto the road, since this has to be one of the worst biking cities in the nation. Children and bikes, however, are a different story entirely.

I'm all for kids riding bikes and scooters and what have you around here, even though it's on the sidewalk and thus annoying (kids need exercise, after all). What every child needs in her two wheeled arsenal is an adequate warning system, which is why Dring Dring bicycle bells are such an awesome gift. Hand painted with animals, or sports equipment, or flowers, or whatever, Dring Dring bells add a touch of whimsy to a bike or scooter. Plus, they give a decent warning to innocent pedestrians. But don't just limit these to bikes, how about sticking one on your stroller? Seriously, the stroller brigades around here could use some bells (they're already loaded down with drink holders and bag hooks and what have you).

Anyway, at $24 a pop, Dring Dring bells are an affordable and fun gift. And the tinkly, old fashioned sound they make is far preferable to "hey you, get out of my way." At Dring Dring.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Edgy Riff on a Classic Bangle

While I'm a great admirer of jewelry, I'll admit to being lazy about it. If it's not something I can just put on every day, I won't wear it. I wear the same necklaces and rings all the time. But I never wear bracelets.

Part of the bracelet hesitation is that they always seemed like a pain in the arm. You have to take them on and off. And, I'll admit to a certain snob factor: I have a thing for the Cartier Love bracelet, the one that locks on. Not only is it classic and simple, but since the thing locks on, I don't need to remove it. How lazy is that? Unfortunately, Cartier is way out of Toad's reach.

Enter Miansai, a jewelry company that makes a bracelet that looks like what you'd get if you mated a Gucci horsebit with a Cartier Love bracelet. I love it! It manages to look edgy, but in a classic way. You can totally dress it up or down. And the thing locks on, for the laziness factor I so prize in my bangles. Plus, there's the price: this bronze version is $165. There's also a gold version for much more money, although it's still a hell of a lot less than our friend Cartier.

Find this wonderful trinket at Saturdays Surf NYC, for either yourself or a classy and snotty friend.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Best Faux Food Ever

One of the baby toy items that's a perennial favorite is the fake food set. You know: plastic food that looks real in a miniaturized, slightly creepy way. Kids love to play with it (which is excellent) and then love to forget to put it away so that you step on some fake wiener on your way to the bathroom (which is not excellent).

This felt food set solves the foot injury problem. Each fake food set by Tomomo Handmade is beautifully rendered. I mean, look at this totally realistic tempura set! Doesn't it make you crave Katsu Don like immediately? And this fabulous fake food felter offers many other sets, ranging from the formation of a mighty fuzzy strawberry shortcake to a high fiber BBQ feast. These are genius. The kids can throw them without injury. Plus, if you're having a cat emergency, I think one of these shrimp would make a great kitty toy in a pinch.

Prices on Tomomo Handmade range from around $25-$100 per set. Check them out at Etsy. It's fake food you could sink your teeth into, although it probably wouldn't be very pleasant (no calories, though).

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dorky Flash Drives for Back to School

Yes, it's time for back to school shopping again. I remember when back to school supplies consisted of a Trapper Keeper and an artificial denim 3-ring notebook (yes, I'm horribly dating myself).

Now it's more likely your kid will still need folders and pencils and erasers, but there's new stuff too. Like flash drives. This year, my daughter requires two flash drives. And while, sure, you can go and get an ordinary one at Staples, these 8GB flash drives from Kid Robot really get their dork on. I mean, check out this information hogging Ewok. Doesn't he look smug? This is really one of the only uses for an Ewok that I can come up with. They have Storm Troopers, Yoda, and C-3PO as well. Plus, if you're not psyched on the Star Wars theme, there's sort of twisted Hello Kitty ones too.

Get one for your reluctant student. It might make back to school more bearable for everyone. At Kid Robot.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Nails of a Different Color

Even though it still feels like summer, fall is rapidly approaching. One of the easiest ways to make the transition is through nails, as your fashionista friends surely know.

This fall the trend is either toward dark blues and greens (colors which, frankly, only work on 12 year olds and the truly artsy set) or neutral. While I like the concept of neutral nails, it's really difficult to pull off. Go too far in the pink direction and you're headed for My Pretty Princess; go too far in the camel and you might look like a corpse. The concept behind the Hipp RGB collection is that you can find the perfect neutral. Touted more as a foundation for nails (like foundation for faces), RGB gives a palette that might actually work with different skin tones. RGB also offers a fabulous color selection too, all in the sort of glossy colors that manage to avoid sparkle and crayola tones. Of course, RGB is almost impossible to find.

Go to the Ten Over Six site, though, and there's a whole selection. Even online, the colors seem pretty true.  A couple of bottles of this polish (free of all the cancer causing nasties everyone's so worried about) would make a fun gift for someone's digits, for teens and matrons alike.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Totally High on New High Mart

This funky leather necklace evokes
Marni's pricier offerings
It's unusual for me to sing the praises of an entire store web site, but I just have to make an exception for the L.A. store New High Mart.

This is an awesome gift site. I've cherry picked a couple of items here: a leather triangle necklace (a very in look for the fall and beyond), and a totally practical utilitarian Jansport bag that many a cool girl would love to have for travel or even just around town. Both these items are under $75, and both of them look pricier than that. But that's not all New High Mart offers. This former Chinatown pop up store has a bizarrely wonderful panoply of goodies, from $16 leather keychains to $400 mongolian sweaters. It absolutely manages to hit the best of both high and low price points. For instance, it boasts totally quirky, fun striped socks (a perfect stocking stuffer), moroccan straw tote bags, excellent watermelon soap, and affordable (under $100) scarves. You can do a lot of quality shopping here.

So go see the goods for yourself at New High Mart. You won't be sorry.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Perfect Fall Dress That's WAY Out of Range

I know I'm supposed to stick to a $200 price point here. And normally, I really practice major discipline on this front, ignoring fantastic items too pricey to print here. But today, I fell down on the job.

It's this damn Donna Karan dress. Donna Karan isn't even a brand I like very much, she of the bodysuits (always wondered about major panty lines) and overly draped fabric that might look great on a 6 foot tall giraffe of a model, but will look like a pile of yesterday's dirty laundry on me. Besides, I can't afford Donna, and her dopey yoga esthetic always annoyed me.

But take a look at this dress (and ignore the stick figure wearing it. Some hips would make this dress even better). It's a t-shirt, but a cowl-necked, perfectly draped t-shirt with all these sort of equestrian, sort of bondage straps. It's edgy but not unclassy, could work for a lovely dinner out or for tromping around town in a pair of biker boots. You could soften it up with a cashmere piece on top, or go for totally tough with a tiny leather jacket. In short, this dress fits all my criteria for a perfect Fall item of clothing.  I would wear this, I swear. I know other women who would love it, too.

I guess these other women better be far richer than I, since this dress is a cool $1,200. I know, I'm such a tease. At Shopbop.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Useful Beach Monkey

Awareness of the dangers of UV radiation is definitely on the rise; in L.A., I see more and more of fake bake and less and less of real tans. The problem, of course, in sun protection is knowing when the UV radiation is at its highest and most damaging. Sure, you can look in the paper, but it's unlikely you're going to do that for every beach day.

But here's a solution you can keep on your key chain: the UV Monkey! This disc (not very monkey like, if you ask me) looks a bit like a lavender tinted Simon game, but it operates like your own personal radiation detector. Just keep it visible on the beach, and the Monkey will let you know through its Easter egg colors whether you need to slather on more SPF 50.

At just $9.99, the Monkey makes a great bon voyage gift for your loved ones heading off to tropical climes. At Think Geek.