Thursday, April 30, 2009

Stripped for the Sun

Perhaps you and yours are already preparing to strip for the sun, imagining supple salt-kissed skin and bikini clad bodies, along with your toddler's bottoms, filled to the brim with sand.

It's a great picture, and one that need not be tainted by sunscreen failure and roasted faces. Just try these new sunscreen strips. No, they don't provide any sunscreen protection. What they do instead is let you know when your actual sunscreen is petering out, leaving skin vulnerable to the worst rays. Consider these strips (worn like a bracelet) an early sunburn warning system. Once the strip changes color, it's either time to reapply or head for the shade.

This is a great going away present for anyone headed to tropical climes. It'll be much appreciated. Find the strips at And then, strip down in the sun safely.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Ball in the Face

For kids, a ball in the face is often worth two in each hand. Hey, that's why tetherball remains the playground hit for kids 6-11. Why not capitalize on its popularity and buy an at-home tetherball set-up?

Think about it. Tetherball is played outside, in the ostensibly fresh air. It's an old-fashioned, wholesome activity. It helps kids develop lightning fast reflexes and self-defense strategies. It's stationary, so you don't need to worry about a bunch of kids running roughshod through your garden, chasing all matter of loose balls. And, this tetherball set-up for your home is relatively inexpensive; certainly cheaper than that X-Box your kids keep going on about. As for the occasional bloody nose or split lip? Don't worry about it, it's character building.

The whole set-up is available at Order it and let the classic play begin, outside, where it belongs.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Here Comes An Edgy Brownie!

You must know one brownie freak. You know, the one experimenting with different brownie recipes, bringing them to every party, foisting them off on unsuspecting dieting guests. Here's a gift for them, and this time, I'm giving away a recipe to boot.

One of the best brownie characteristics for a true fan are the crispy edges. Alas, these edges are usually only on a percentage of the bars in the pan. Well, no more. This innovative brownie pan zig zag design ensures that every luscious cube has a border of chewy, crunchy goodness. This pan is truly a revolutionary dessert item.

And now, for an easy recipe (because true brownie fans eschew mixes):
1 stick unsalted butter
2-4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla, or Kahlua
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup flour
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large saucepan, melt the butter and chocolate together over low heat. When melted, add the sugar and mix, letting it melt into the buttery chocolate just slightly. Remove from heat, and quickly beat in both eggs and the vanilla/Kahlua. Add salt. Mix in flour until batter is smooth. Pour into pan and bake on middle rack for 30-35 minutes.

It's soooo good. Find the edgy brownie pan at The recipe is from James Beard.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Drink Me

Normally, I'm not in favor of purchasing disposable goods for parties. Partially because it's wasteful, and partially because, unless it's some little kid's party, it always looks cheesy. But these disposable cups actually add something to the party, especially if you're hosting one honoring Mom this Mother's Day.

Sure, these bright red cups are festive. But it's the stalwart, upright, oh-so-sensible British WWII advice printed on them which makes them so ideal for Mother's Day: Keep Calm and Carry On. Since when have truer words ever been uttered? This royal saying is a mantra for you while you're organizing the brunch, cooking while your kids run screaming through the house, and especially once your Mom arrives at the event and lets loose a little criticism.  Keep Calm and Carry On, you can tell yourself, and then drink it (preferably a Mimosa) right up.

There are many Keep Calm items at But this is the only one you can raise your glass to.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring Tangerine

It's a hardcore spring vibe here at Find A Toad, and here's one more taste of spring rain, sunshine, and vibrance all tucked in one pretty package.

I'm talking tangerines. And not just any tangerines, but the special ones citrus magicians grow in idyllic Ojai, California. These petite"Pixie"  sunset hued fruits are juicy, sweet, and seedless (such a plus when feeding them section by section to your toddler, or composing the ideal fruit salad). A crate of these golden babies are a great gift for just about anyone on your list (including, of course, your dear old mom). And now they're easy to mail order instead of having to live in Southern California.

So send a ton of tangerines! They're available (in season, as in right NOW) at It's a nutritious treat that not just your mother will love.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A Bank Mom Can Get Behind

No, I'm not suggesting you open your Mom a bank account for Mother's Day. Banks are, well, personal, and every woman must choose the one that holds her deposits best. No kid can do that for her.

But this is a bank for Mom's toilet. This funny green device is filled with water and stuffed into the toilet tank, displacing the actual water her toilet uses with every flush. Basically, it's just like the bricks people threw into their toilet tanks in the 1970s, but improved. It saves Mom a bundle in water charges. It's the bank that could save the world (not really, but a little hyperbole now and then is such a relief). 

So get Mom into the green revolution now. It's only around seven bucks, so you'll have cash left over for the flowers and brunch. Order the toilet bank at It'll always be behind Mom, backing her up.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

DIY Mommy

Most moms are do-it-yourselfers, just by virtue of necessity. But some are dedicated to rewiring, rehanging, and rebuilding sans help. If your mom is a DIY devotee, this Mother's Day gift is tres appropriate.

Check out the Magwear magnetic bracelet. Yes, it looks like a play watch for giants, but the Magwear is really a mini-palette for loose nails, bolts, nuts, screws, and anything else with an iron content. It's ideal for the constructive mother who likes to get down and dirty in her own domain, and she'll appreciate it far more than a bunch of flowers. Because, while doing it yourself is satisfying, corralling scattered sharp bits of metal on the floor is not.

This fix-it fashion statement (only eighteen bucks and in four fabulous colors! ) is on Buy it for your mom and "they" can build it together.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Just For One Day

Hero? Well, maybe not. But how about royalty for that Mother's Day, birthday, or Just Because day?

This really rather exquisitely crafted paper cut crown can deliver all that, and maybe more. Perfectly sliced and diced, this tiara comes packed flat and ready to pop on the lucky wearer's head. Originally, I was thinking along the lines of "Queen for a Day" for Mom on Mother's Day, but it really could serve a multiplicity of gifting functions. You could even present it to your Prince Charming. Or your favorite different category of "Queen" altogether. What fun!

For true pomp and circumstance, I suggest investing in a lovely pillow to rest the paper pulp princess headgear upon, but it's not strictly necessary. Find the tiara at

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday Spring Buzz

It's here again. Monday. The Beginning. And, as usual, you and yours are dragging behind. While coffee might help, gallons of the black tar might not benefit other aspects of life. So what to do for that Monday drag? 

Try out the ThinkGeek caffeine candy sampler. It's packed with sugary treats featuring your favorite stimulant. Try out mints, bars, and assorted gums. At this rate, you and your office mates can keep up a frantically positive Monday vibe, all the time! It's productivity in a box. Keep handing this stuff out Monday mornings, and you could end up being voted Ms. Office Congeniality.

It's so worth the twenty dollar investment. Order at And buzz like a busy spring bee.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mom Bomb

Mother's Day is still a bit away, but I'm offering up a suggestion anyway. While flowers are a traditional gift (along with an overcrowded and bacteria-laden brunch), perhaps this year you should consider the vessel of the flowers as the main course.

Take this Bomb Vase, for instance. Resting at a jaunty angle on the table, once it's stuffed with flowers it epitomizes the "love, not war" philosophy espoused by most mothers. Its smooth white surface breathes serenity, but its insertion angle can also be a statement about the piece of furniture it's resting upon. Admittedly a wickedly edgy piece, but some mothers are willing to go to the dark side a bit, even on Mother's Day.

I recommend merely stuffing some daisies in the top (an homage to LBJ, perhaps). The Bomb Vase is about fifty bucks, less than a big flower arrangement, so really it's a bargain. Check it out at

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Ye Olde Label Maker

As I keep emphasizing, it's spring, and with the season comes the requisite cleaning and organizing. Often, this organizational bent involves labeling, so here's a treat for your "everything is in its place, and has a name on it" type friends.

It's a genuine Dymo Printer! Remember these, from the 1970s? Shaped like a Star Trek phaser in all basic shade of avocado, these early label makers used rolls of thick plastic tape with a dial embosser. Trust me: those labels lasted for years. They will outlast cockroaches and nuclear winters. And now you can order the real McCoy for vintage style labeling. How excellent is that?

Find this Dymo in the rough at It'll make spring cleaning groovy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pesky Labbit

It's not Easter anymore, but it's still spring, meaning I can still indulge in bunny talk. Especially when the bunny in question is a little bent.

Take this lovely vinyl Labbit, for instance. Created by illustrator and designer Frank Kozik, the Labbit looks so innocently pink and white. And yet... it's just slightly creepy. He's chewing gum and blowing a perfect bubble. Sort of like the quintessential white bunny rabbit, if genetically altered in some mad scientist's lab in the wilds of Moldovia. This Labbit has a petite frame (just 5") and can live just about anywhere with absolutely no care whatsoever. But, he still looks like he could cause trouble (or stick his gum under the desk). Pesky little office friend for your favorite office friend, perhaps?

Order the hopper at The Labbit's a harbinger of sunny spring days to come, or maybe something more sinister (but also more interesting).

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Bit of Better Butter for the Bride

Yes, it's another wedding oriented gift. Just face facts: the wedding season is here, and you'd might as well motivate and buy the lucky couple something cool (since the wedding costs will probably break them, and they'll never be able to afford anything ever again).

Speaking of cool, take a look at this butter dish by porcelain artist Esther Derkx. Sure, it looks traditional, but then there's the naked butter girl dancing across the top, celebrating the inclusion of yummy cholesterol-laden dairy fat in your diet. Derkx takes old china from mismatched sets and repurposes it as something edgy and cool. So this gift isn't just dinner party appropriate, it's green, too. How current for the modern bride and her modern table.

Find this better butter dish at It's a wicked take on Grandma's china pattern.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Someone Else's Silver

It's wedding season. Or, to be more accurate, it's RSVPing and buying wedding gifts season. Many couples still register (convenient for you, although painful to view other's bad table taste), but for those who forego this tradition, here's a splendid gift choice: used silverware.

By "used silverware," I don't mean cafeteria leftovers. I'm talking real antique silver-plated utensils, dating back into the 1920s (when people really knew how to set a table). This "silverware by the pound" concept can garner a 20-piece set of lovely real silverware for until a hundred bucks (in wedding gift terms, that's dirt cheap). And while the silver won't all match, that's kind of the point. Matching tableware is just so, I don't know, last century. Any bride who doesn't register won't mind this lack of coordination anyway.

You can only find this silver at Order for your next wedding and heave a sigh: you've stuck a fork in it, and you're done.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Honor the Rabbit

So you've been invited to an Easter brunch. What to bring? Remember: chocolate, hard-boiled eggs and stuffed animals are all redundant. But flowers, particularly flowers in a cool, reusable vessel, are always appreciated by a flustered host or hostess.

Take this pretty Easter arrangement by Martha Stewart. Think the type-A Stewart, think uptight and trussed up. But this arrangement is lovely. Great colors (no pink), old-fashioned without being unfashionable, and, the crowning glory, a vase which manages to be both egg themed yet still hip. Better yet, the thing's priced at under fifty bucks and can be delivered the same day. 

Make these blooms magically appear on the Easter table by ordering them at This bouquet shows that bunny who's boss.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Notes on a Tote

Much has already been written (most of it glowing) about the LL Bean boat tote. After all, the thing is roomy, classic, monogrammable and indestructible. 

Well, I have a beef with the original. It might be able to weather both a forest fire and a pack of filthy toddlers without a tear, but it sure is stiff. All that good, patrician cotton and starch makes for a bag that's heavy and awkward before you ever pack any stuff into it. Once packed, the thing's just a deadweight. That's why I'm recommending the LL Bean "Adventure" tote. Same basic design (nothing wrong with that), but in lightweight, wipe clean nylon. It's the ideal "baby" present for a new mom, especially stuffed with an assortment of wipes and diapers.

Order this intrepid "Adventure" tote (in fabulous colorways) at It's the ultimate carry all.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

April Showers

You know what April skin is? Buffeted by wind, parched by indoor heating systems, April skin is a mess. It must be stopped. And this showerhead is a great start.

I have many friends who recycle, eat organic and drink filtered water. What these well-intentioned folks forget is that their whole body drinks in water, every day in the shower. And if your water is anything like LA tap, it's brimming with chlorine, heavy metals and a host of nasties, which ravage skin upon contact. But there's hope! The Sunflower filtered showerhead not only filters out anything objectionable, it also drenches the shower-taker in a delightful springlike rainshower. Ahhh. Showers are fun again.

Just some of the perks: skin will soften and stop that dry itch, and hair will shine. Order online at It'll just confirm that those May flowers are right around the corner.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Dainty Solution for Dainties

There is a lurking horror in everyone's dresser. It's overflowing and out of control. Call it the dainty drawer gone raunchy. And now that it's spring, such unruliness demands a quick fix.

Try taming that lingerie gone wild with these lingerie drawer organizers. Since like attracts like, silk lingerie gets coddled in style with silk compartments (no snags ever again). Organize undies by color, type or fabric. Build a fabulous labyrinth dedicated to the lingerie goddess. And, rest assured, with a tasteful brown and robin's egg blue color scheme (so spring like), drawers will look neater than you ever thought possible (and in a jiffy, too).

You may know some lingerie hound with a messy drawer problem. Or you may just want to reserve these organizers as a spring cleaning gift for yourself. I won't tell. Find them at

Monday, April 6, 2009

Statement Maker for a Screaming Monday

It's Monday and no one likes it. Work must begin! But first, a statement must be made.

I can't think of a better (or noisier) statement maker for your favorite disgruntled cubicle dweller than this screaming monkey slingshot. It seems so soft and harmless, (although slightly creepy in that inimitable simian way) but it transforms into a shrieking zoo time projectile with a little help from a friend. Just position, pull, and shoot. The harder it flies, the louder it gets. And because it's essentially just an over designed stuffed animal, the likelihood of injury and damage is slim. Plus, if there is damage, the hairy guy is masked for anonymity.

What a satisfying way to begin a workweek. Order it at NOT suitable for children.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Not a Typical Bored Game

In this fresh new age of Nintendo and Xbox and Wii, a normal board game seems, well, a bit boring. A pity, really, since board games involve groups in a social activity, rather than a couple of droolers shouting at a screen and tiring out their fingers.

Meet the board game that can change your mind (and makes a great hostess or kid present).  The Settlers of Catan is sort of a primitive Monopoly, in which you and others must colonize an imaginary island, Catan. You must gather resources, build roads, and create a viable infrastructure before everyone else. It's relatively fast-moving (remember those endless Monopoly games?), and is based more on competing with the vagaries of the board set-up than ruining one another (anyone remember Risk?). 

The Settlers of Catan has won every major award a board game can win (it's a German game, and the Germans take strategic games very seriously). It's available at Gift it and encourage some old-fashioned family fun.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Fine and (Almost) Self-Cleaning Spring Table

Ah, spring. Brunches, showers, Easter breakfasts, Passover Seders, there's literally dozens of reasons to set the table with Grandma's china and have a sit down (and I'm sure you're invited to many). But cleaning up Grandma's fine linens covered with schmutz from all the revelry is no fun at all, not to mention paying that heinous dry cleaning bill.

Bring your next happy hostess some Chilewich placemats. All of the Chilewich designs are made out of innovative plastic (that looks interesting and modernist, not tacky), that literally wipes clean. The lacy, linen like models pictured here could be appropriate for all but the frilliest table. And they're virtually indestructible, so the hostess can use them time and time again. They even make feeding a trough of starving kids a quick clean up job.

So don't dread the event aftermath. Chose from a selection at

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Velveteen Easter Rabbit

It's easy enough to compile a mediocre Easter Basket. Just hit the market for bags of chocolate dreck, jellybeans, and non-biodegradable plastic grass that will be around for many Easters to come. Or, you could get innovative.

Take this combined literature and basket idea, for instance. The Velveteen Rabbit is a kiddie lit classic, and you can make it come to life under the Easter guise. Sure, give the kid a basket with candy eggs and marshmallow chickies. But, also include this completely cute, handmade Velveteen Rabbit and a copy of the book. It gives kids something that they'll have way after the chocolate eggs are just a pile of crumpled foil.

You can find this fantastic rabbit by Little Sister's Dolls at And locate the book at It sure beats the Easter Seal.