Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Curse of the Autumnal Pumpkin

Oh my god. What is this? And why is it ruining the meal?

For many communities, the start of the fall season is a lovely time, full of colorful leaves, crisp comfy temps, and seasonal activities. Here in Los Angeles, though, the beginning of Fall simply means brutal heat that can melt your car paint. It means smog and allergies. It means fires. And it makes the annual pushing of the autumnal pumpkin decor and food even more annoying.

I don't really understand the pumpkin's great appeal. While I do like the color orange, I prefer it to reside outside of the squash family. Pumpkins around here, once jack o' lanterned up, rot in about 48 hours. Even when I was a child, the stench emanating from a dissected pumpkin gave me the dry heaves. Cut open, raw pumpkins actually smell like bloated vegetable corpses, which might make them uncannily suited to the disgusting gory glory that is Halloween, but it doesn't mean I want one within 100 feet of my household.

So, fine: I hate real pumpkins. There are catalogs, crafting sites, and whole Target displays devoted to fake pumpkins and gourds that can be festooned throughout your household. The question is: why would you want that? Last year the Gump's catalog featured velvet pillows in pumpkin shapes with actual pumpkin stems atop them. They were like squash cudgels from Game of Thrones. And if you sat upon one wrong, well, let's just say it wouldn't be pretty. As my husband observed, "I would look like an autumnal baboon."

Here's the Pumpkin Spice Latte, the scourge of Fall drink menus everywhere.

And then there's the damn drinks. What is up with the Pumpkin Spice Latte? Who ever thought that anything, besides maybe chocolate and vanilla, would meld well with coffee? Those lattes are stinky. They're a strange color for an ingestible. Add to this the absurdity of the Food Babe going after Starbuck's for having artificial stuff (oh no, chemicals) in them and the drink becomes even more ridiculous. No one is forcing the public to drink these things, so who cares if they're chock full of garbage or not? The Pumpkin Spice Latte is already such a bad concept that I don't think all the organic milk or GMO free pumpkin puree (ugh, it makes me nauseated just thinking about mixing that thick crud into a coffee drink) is going to improve it much. I mean, if you love them, mazel tov and drink up, but for god's sake don't complain about the ingredients in what is essentially junk food.

So that's the Toad's take on pumpkin Fall decor. You won't see any autumnal offerings at my house; I keep Hawaiian leis out year round, just to remind me that there is a paradise out there, far away from the madding pumpkin splattered crowd.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Whole Shebang: Design Boom

Olfattorio has to do with scents, not fat, so stop laughing and start shopping.

It's rare that I want to feature an entire site, usually because I feel like I've seen everything, everywhere. It's so nice to be proved wrong, and Design Boom is the exception to the rule.

Design Boom is an online design mag that has an absolutely outstanding shopping section. Seriously, people, I haven't seen the majority of products on the site, not even the ones made in the U.S.! The olfattorio vase above (you've got to love that name) is an Italian product based on perfumery equipment; the shape allows access to a single, perfect bloom for both viewing and sniffing. Total genius and a reasonably priced gift ($59).

There's so much here at every price point! There's tea infusers shaped like submarines for $13, gorgeous rustic charred wood candlesticks from Japan for $130, and super expensive artsy skateboards for over two grand (if you're feeling profligate). The site is nicely arranged and easy to navigate. All in all, The Toad pronounces Design Boom an explosively good find.

Visit Design Boom here, and browse for hours. Don't blame me if you blast straight through your budget, though. You've been warned.