Monday, September 30, 2013

Paper Shuffle No More with the Japanese Multi-Notebook

Aw, the doodles you'll draw.
Perhaps it's the start of school, or the fact that there's about a billion projects going on at the Toad Abode, but I've found myself drawn to paper. And not just ordinary legal pads (which are practical, and completely have a place), but something that might wrangle all the inspirational brilliance deep thought has to offer.

So, of course the Japanese have invented it: the Multi-Notebook. Inside this ordinary looking notebook boasts six different types of notebooks in one, ranging from the normal lined to graphing, blank, essay and more. Did I mention it's all in one, so you can haul it around and always have the correct format? Can the "Notes" section of your smartphone deliver that? No, I didn't think so.

This is also excellent for students and bored executives during endless meetings (perfect for advanced doodling). And, at just $10, it's a pretty sweet deal for such innovation. At ThinkGeek.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Father Rabbit for Your Bunny Rabbit

This is no runaway bunny.
You know why decorating a toddler's room is tough? It's tough because they have no real preferences yet, there's all this pressure not to succumb to gender specific decor, and you don't want a bunch of clashing colors and plastic dreck. It's hard, I tell you.

That's why, when I spotted this Rabbit duvet cover at New Zealand store Father Rabbit, I breathed a sigh of relief. Just look at this simple, lovely graphic. Illustrated by textile designer Angela McKay, this black and white bunny goes with everything. There's something particularly winsome about the one droopy ear. It would look so cute in a simple kid's room, maybe with a bright mobile hanging from the ceiling.

On the downside? Ok, it's white, and one bout of stomach flu might doom it forever. Still, so cute. At Father Rabbit.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Something for Your Dirty Laundry from Mr. and Mrs. P

These will make even your laundry look cleaner.
I'm not much of a DIY homemaker type. I like to cook, and will clean and neaten, but I've never gone in for that sort of homesteader chic that's been so popular. Mason jars filled with salad? Homemade overly hoppy beer? Sage smudging? Not my thing.

I do, however, like these paint dipped clothespins by Mr. and Mrs. P. I like the simple, clean design of clothespins generally, and they are often useful for sorting things, sealing bags of errant chips, and even hanging soggy suits and lingerie. The fact that these clothespins are fashionably color dipped just adds to the excellent design factor. Plus, if you have a sort of DIY crunchy, crafty friend, a little set of these suckers might be the perfect little gift.

At $4 for two, you can afford to buy an assortment. So hang it all out to dry at Mr. and Mrs. P's.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Time Goes 24: A Different Clock from The Thing

What time is it? Do it now, quick!
Most of us have gotten lazy, timewise. So accustomed to the digital on our nightstands and phones, even reading a regular clock can take a half second longer than it should. And time as a concept deserves more scrutiny than the digital. I could go really crazy here and start quoting Pink Floyd all over the place, but that would just be aging and embarrassing. I'll spare us both.

Anyway, the rather cutting edge artsy magazine and object subscription service The Thing has just released its latest product/project, a 24 hour clock designed by artist Tauba Auerbach. First off, the clock, in white with gold classic Roman numerals, is beautiful. It would lend itself to almost any decor. But, between its 24 hour format and the Romans, it forces you to slow down and actually examine the clock in order to tell the time. It also might be an excellent way to torture a child just learning to tell time (just in case you're hard up for sadistic amusement opportunities).

The clock is for sale alone, for $120. And a quarterly subscription to The Thing (an amazing present for an artsy friend or relative) goes for $240. Pick and choose at The Thing Quarterly. You'll never see time as just "ticking away the moments that make up a dull day." See? I couldn't resist.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Groovy Candlelight from Dwell Studio

Oh, we covet shiny things.
The Toad gets many catalogs and covets many things in them. I particularly like the goods in the Dwell Studio catalog, although many of the prices make me feel ill. I mean, no, I'm not handing over 200 clams for a "creature box," no matter how charming and quirky the creatures atop it might be.

Still, there's some good and accessible stuff buried in that pricey catalog. Take these Converge votive candle holders in brass, for instance. They look like they could be vintage, found gracing some '70s bachelor pad, but they still have that minimalist, modernist edge I like so much. Plus, as the days get shorter, there is a need for attractive candlelight to blunt the painful reality that winter is coming. Not to go all Game of Thrones on you, but it's true.

At $38, these votives are an excellent gift for a hostess or casual birthday. Light em up and get groovy. At Dwell Studio.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Ridiculously Good Vittles from the Jerusalem Cookbook

This food will make you swoon.
So, even though I'm a food enthusiast, I've been a bit behind the trend on this cookbook; Jerusalem went viral a while ago. Still, I figure that many of you might be as oblivious as I, so I'm presenting this cookbook as a must have.

Why is it a must have? Because I've made three things from it and they've all been insanely good. And healthy (like, chock full of veggies). And not expensive. Really, I could go on and on. As it turns out, Israeli and Palestinian cuisine is heavy on vegetables and wonderful piles of herbs and spices; there's way, way more to it than falafel and hummus (although I'm sure the hummus recipe is excellent). Mejudra, for example, a homespun, highly spiced rice pilaf laced through with crispy fried onions, was a sensational surprise (my 12 year old gobbled it up).

Do you need some special ingredients? Yes, mostly in the form of spices like sumac and za'atar, which you're not going to find at most neighborhood markets. I hit the Spice Station in Silverlake for these essentials, but you can order them online as well.  I highly recommend cooking your own garbanzo beans, as they are far superior to the canned variety. And maybe buying a bunch of Beano while you're at it (I'm just trying to cover all the bases here).

Jerusalem is a beautiful cookbook as well, full of color pictures of glorious food. You can find it for around $20 on Amazon. Order it and amaze at your next dinner party.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Toasty Spice Roaster

Look! It's a tiny popcorn popper for dwarves!
Because of the ridiculous, incredible heat in Los Angeles the last two weeks or so, I've been experimenting with salads and spices to whet the weary appetite. All good Indian, Israeli, and Asian dishes depend on quality spices, mostly whole and toasted over open flames by the cook. And after some poking around online (really, all I do all day long), I happened upon the ideal spice toaster.

This incredibly simple tool makes spice toasting, from coriander to cardamom to sesame seeds, very quick and easy. Yeah, sure, you could use a little skillet on the stovetop and monitor the spices like a hawk. Or, you could dump them into this little sieved device specifically designed for the task and have it done in about half the time. Because this spice toaster is a Japanese product, made in Japan, by people who have tiny kitchens and limited space for culinary nonsense. Anything they dream up to make the chef's life easier is worth buying.

So, buy one for the chef in your life. Hell, buy two. They're only $14. And maybe you should throw in a quality spice grinder while you're at it, so you can stop using your old cranky coffee grinder to make rice powder for your next batch of chicken larb. At Umami Mart.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

For The Pancake Man or Waffle Woman

Great holy flapjacks, the perfect syrup has arrived!
Everyone knows someone who's obsessed with pancakes or waffles. Mr. Crab makes light, fluffy, incredible pancakes that just beg for butter and high end syrup. Our favorite pancakes are the corn pancakes from Cheeky's in Palm Springs (sporting kernels of fresh corn), but I digress.

In the land of delicious breakfasts, excellent ingredients are expected. And this set of small batch Vermont maple syrup and gorgeous silo pitcher from Farmhouse Pottery really delivers. The syrup is, of course, amazing. The pitcher can satisfy almost any aesthetic, from modern to, well, farmhouse. The combo of the smooth and rough in calm neutrals works with any table setting besides, perhaps, Grandma's fussy Desert Rose. As a gift for the cook, it truly satisfies.

Although it's early, I think this would make an excellent holiday present. It's $65 at Farmhouse Pottery (and there's a smaller version, too).

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Clever Kitchen Clean Up

This rustic yet elegant assortment cleans floor to table to dirty dishes!
Lately, I've been very drawn to Swedish and Scandinavian design. It's so clean and bright, yet oddly comforting. Plus, it's minimalist, which is something I strive for but rarely achieve, due to my penchant for odd objects and art.

One thing the Swedes do extremely well is merging the old fashioned and classic with pure utility; they don't embrace rococo. In the kitchen, this aesthetic is very welcome (ok, I admit I have an IKEA kitchen, so I'm already committed to the aesthetic, but hear me out). Iris Hantverk is a Swedish organization which produces products made by the visually impaired, and the results are lovely. Get a load of these kitchen clean up tools, made of all natural materials and lovingly crafted. The table brush set I find particularly appealing, as I have a messy family and a daughter with barbarian friends who scatter the kitchen table with refuse after every meal. This brush would be so useful, and look nice to boot.

All the kitchen tools would make incredible hostess gifts, or as a holiday present (I know, it's annoying to think about the holidays, but why not gather gifts now and not panic later). Order them all for a little over $50! At Olmay Home.