Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Truly Portable, Premium Speakers from Nudeaudio

Enjoy music anywhere, even in the nude!
With the current level of technology, we can all carry around our personal music with us, all the time. But what we haven't been able to do, at least affordably, is listen to our music in open air, sans earbuds or headphones, anytime we want.

Until now. Sure, there have been portable speakers available for years. The problem? Try crappy, tinny sound and pesky wires. Nudeaudio sets out to change all that with its Move's Bluetooth audio speaker, a tiny speaker with a big sound, that wirelessly connects with Bluetooth enabled tablets, phones, and other musical storage devices. That means that the speaker can hang out wherever you are, whether it's an outdoor BBQ or an indoor kitchen, delivering music right next to you with great sound. And when I say hang out, I really mean it, because the Move boasts a cord to loop over a cabinet pull or hook. The colorways (mint and gray or coral and black) are stylish, and the silicone wrapped body gives it resilience.

Did I mention that it's $49.99? What a perfect gift for a tween, teen, metalhead, and any other music fan on your gift list. At Dijital Fix.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A Leather Potholder for Stylish Cooking Protection

It's so pretty and protective!
No matter how experienced a cook one is, eventually there's a stupid mistake. That stupid mistake often involves a metal pot handle, high heat, and a bare hand. Great suffering blisters!

There are plenty of potholders out there, ranging from hand quilted to ragged sack cloth, but this Pan Handle Leather Potholder by Patzbag protects palms in serious style. Made of tough, thick, tan leather, the holder simply slips over the handle and stays there. No protection memory lapses when the timer rings, no fumbling in drawers while the pot boils over. Plus, it's an ideal small but so thoughtful gift for the busy cook.

Handmade in Maine, the Potholder sells for just $13. By Patzbag on Etsy.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Warm the Toes with Wooly Slippers

They're purrrfect for chilly nights!
Los Angeles has been its typical schizophrenic weather self these past couple of months, toggling from super hot to foggy and moist and back again. We're all wheezing and coughing on smog and cold viruses. But now, it looks like Fall in all its moderate temperatures might be here to stay for a little while.

Naturally, most of the rest of the county (and world) has already switched seasons with certainty. There are chilly digits and appendages needing comfort. There's just about nothing nicer to ward off the chill and drafts than a good pair of slippers, and Haflinger makes the best ones. Crafted out of 100% boiled wool, these no nonsense scuffs boast contoured heels and arch supports (the Europeans really know how to treat their feet right). They come with rubber or felt soles, depending on how much heavy walking they'll need to endure. And they aren't soooo utilitarian. Take, for instance, these kitty cat slippers, each one featuring half a cat. There's a dog version, too, and either seems wildly appropriate for a pet loving tween girl (or a cat worshiping adult).

Quality like Haflinger doesn't come cheap: about $75 per pair. I will say, though, that my pair seems impervious to wear and tear. At Cuddledown.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Help Kids Hold Down the Fort with Stick-lets

This construction looks more solid than that of most suburban subdivisions.
There's been research aplenty done on kids and how they play, and the research overwhelmingly suggests that creative play (maybe sans adults) teaches kids more than just about anything else. And no, I don't need to cite this information. Don't you think it's just common sense?

One of the childhood experiences most rhapsodized about is outdoor play, fort building in particular. The Toad, as a very urban child, cannot share in this nostalgia, but I was making forts inside out of rocking chairs and blankets often; the need to build, duck, and cover seems ingrained. Drawing upon this fort building instinct is Stick-lets, a set of stretchy bands to hold together the sticks, furniture, and flotsam and jetsam that make up a traditional kid fort. Colorful and lightweight, Stick-lets seem easy enough to use that kids can go at construction solo. In other words, this is for independent and cooperative play. If you, the adult, want to build a fort, order your own set.

A 20-pack of Stick-lets is around $53, and will provide blessed hours of entertainment, both indoors and out. Order at Stick-lets and let the building commence.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Knot for the Wall Decor

Can also be used as a weapon. See David and Goliath for details.
Occasionally, or maybe often, I find myself drawn to essentially useless objects. You know, the sort of things that just hang out, looking cool and superfluous, on a ledge or attached to the wall. These sailor's knots fit that bill perfectly.

It could be argued that sailor's knots do really serve a purpose: to keep sails on boats from coming loose on their moorings, and that would be accurate. But a wall or ledge isn't a sailboat. Instead, I'd like to see these colorful hand painting sailor's knots as a metaphor for a complicated life, a convoluted communication, and the knot in one's stomach. Hang it on the wall, folks. Examine the knot in all its simplicity and complexity, its colorful beauty. And then, leave it hanging there, away from you. Useless object? I've reaccessed.

Find these beautiful, symbolic knots at Haus.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pink Cows (And More) at Cow Parade

This cow is so excited to go home with you, he has butterflies on his stomach!
I've discussed my love for many different animal representations here at Toad, most recently squirrels (mostly evil), goats (I want a real one), and the always sinister bunny rabbits (Donnie Darko, anyone?). Cows, with their slow moving ruminant natures, were not on my list. Until now.

Until now, pink, red, and multi-colored cow. The moving art installation CowParade is a huge art exhibition of, you guessed it, life sized cows. These cows are designed by famous and not so famous artists, designers, and sometimes celebrities, and are then auctioned off at the show's end to benefit non-profit organizations (mostly benefiting children). Now, unless you have an estate, a life-sized cow sculpture is probably out of the realm of decorative possibility. That's why CowParade makes smaller cows, ranging from three inches up to a foot. The 2013 CowParade is still on right now, in Vallenciennes, France, and the auction for the huge cows happens November 6 (just in case your giftee has the space for a big one).

There's realistic cows (even in brown), psychedelic cows, and cows doing un-cowlike things, and prices range from around $30-75. There's even one that holds real flowers. Browse this virtual pasture at CowParade.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

For Your Easy Rider: City Cycling Guide by Rapha

These eight guides give the skinny on European city cycling. In rainbow brites!
There's no doubt that bicycling is on an upswing in popularity; I only have to take a glance at bikers blatantly running lights through L.A. intersections to know that. Some cities, though, are better suited to cycling, and many are in Europe.

That's why this City Cycling Guide Set from Rapha is so excellent for the bike enthusiast on your gift list. Each set has individual guides to eight European cities, from Amsterdam to Paris, Barcelona to Copenhagen. Each guide is illustrated by individual artists and tailored to that particular city, including maps, tips, and functional layouts. And, the entire thing is wrapped up in a single sturdy slipcase for storage and easy access. It's pretty much the essential Europe cycling guide, and would be perfect for a Fall spin.

Did I mention the low price? It's just $40 for eight cities of cycling Nirvana. At Rapha.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Give Fit Friends Flexibility with Fit and Bendy

You think this is bendy? Kristina's just getting started!
Living in Los Angeles, I have a lot of very fit friends. They do aerial work, go to barre classes, run, bike, ski, and walk their way to fit bodies. But the thing every fit person probably doesn't do enough of is stretching.

That's because, done right, stretching is hard work. In fact, the most sore and achey the Toad has ever been was from a flexibility class, taught by contortionist and dancer Kristina Nekyia. Her class was work, good work that left me floating out of the building like my body was attached by elongated strings. She's a flexibility witch, or wizard, or guru. Now, you can purchase her DVD, Get Bent: Circus Style Flexibility, and give her magic to the fit friends who want to do more than just touch their toes. In 60 minutes, Kristina will stretch and elongate every body part, and there's even a tutorial on how to get great splits.

The DVD is just $25, and would be an ideal present for your favorite workout buddy (especially runners with tight hamstrings and IT bands). Go to Fit and Bendy and check it out.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

For the New Little Dumpling: A Bib 4-Pack by Garbella

Who's my little empanada?
While it's always tempting to purchase new parents a fuzzy stuffed animal or silver baby rattle, those presents are essentially useless. You know what new parents need? They need coverage, baby.

New parents need bibs. Yes, maybe they need bibs for themselves as, sleep deprived and sloppy, they can't even keep food in their mouths. But mostly, the new baby needs coverage as she spits up, drools, and lets milk dribble down her jowls. This 4-pack of cotton bibs, from Garbella, contains the cutest coverage. Each features a culture's stuffed specialty, from dumpling to samosa. Yum. Plus, newborns, swaddled and swelling daily, look like stuffed specialties, anyway.

Order these four bibs by Garbella for $62 on Scout Mob. They'll be in constant rotation for months.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Boost a Friend's Creative Venture with Business Cards from Moo

For a stylin' salon
Besides advice, it's hard to help out with someone else's new business. Sometimes, though, you can hand them some tools, and the company Moo has some great ones.

For a wordsmith
I've always felt that business cards fell into two categories: boring and cheap, or interesting and expensive. There didn't seem to be an in between. Moo fills that gap by letting the customer upload her own images (or, use one of Moo's designs, like the two I chose above) to make truly customized business cards (Moo calls this option Printfinity). It's particularly useful for visual creatives: an artist friend of mine printed her cards using a variety of her own artwork on one side, essentially creating twenty or so different cards. Every time she hands out her card, the recipient enjoys a different image of her work. Brilliant. A copywriter could print a number of her favorite words, one for each card. The possibilities are pretty endless. Plus, Moo's cards are sturdy, double-sided color cards for as low as twenty bucks for fifty cards.

Remember that, for a business person starting out, every little bit of help counts. Give a gift of cards from Moo and help them stand out in the marketplace.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Another Bizarre Bunny Accessory

Maybe he'll share a Mai Tai with you.
Ever since I saw Donnie Darko, I've had a thing for bunnies. The contrast between the furry, fuzzy little cuddler and the big eared and sinister really gets me.

When I see a new creepy bunny decorative item, I must feature it. It's some sort of a decorating imperative. Thus, this ceramic container: half bunny, half.... pineapple? Yes, the bunny and the pineapple have mated, producing a container perfect for storing cookies, or candy, or a stash of whatever. Never mind the fact that, out of all the pineapple fields I've seen, I've never seen a bunny anywhere near one. I would place bets that bunnies and pineapples rarely meet, except maybe here, on the Beklina site. Either that, or some pineapple had a
whimsical moment and donned a pair of bunny ears it found lying around. Unlikely.

At $120, this isn't an impulsive gift purchase. Know your giftee's taste in advance, because this bunny doesn't want to live in the closet. At Beklina.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Here's To Some Gender Role Free Halloween Costumes

This Pterodactyl is pterrifying!
First off, let me just say that I actually really enjoy the Chasing Fireflies catalog. It has cute (if pricey) clothing and some of the best Halloween costumes around. I love thumbing through it, and I've purchased many a costume for my daughter from its pages.

Naturally, when I saw this ridiculously fabulous Pterodactyl costume, I just had to feature it. I mean, what kid wouldn't want to be a giant extinct flying dinosaur, particularly if they're still under about three and aren't able to protest against your funny choices yet? (I, for instance, dressed my Tadpole as a Skunk one year; she doesn't remember it, but that little stinker looked adorable). Besides the Pterodactyl, the site offers many other animal choices, both real and imaginary. How about a Billy Goat? Or an Octopus? Dragon? Maybe your child would be happier as a pizza slice, a s'more, or a cheeseburger? The site features those costumes, too.

Unfortunately, if you have a girl, and you look in the Girls Costumes section, you won't find any of those costumes. Apparently, those costumes are for boys, and are categorized as such. I say "Boo" to this. Look, I know that some costumes are gender specific. I don't have a huge problem with a girl wanting to look like a fairy princess, or a boy who wants to be Superman. I get it. But, why in the hell are animal costumes gender specific? And why must my daughter dress as a pink sprinkle covered doughnut, but not as a slice of Brooklyn's finest? Just asking.

Anyway, if you're looking for fantastic costumes, look no further than Chasing Fireflies. Just make sure you search all the categories to get the complete picture.