Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Forecast Teller

The weather is an ongoing source of fascination for just about everyone, but especially for children. What to wear in the morning, whether they'll be able to play outside at school or camp, these are huge happenings in the life of a child (even in maddeningly predictable L.A.). And with the spectre of global warming looming over our kids, weather forecasts are even more intriguing.

So, gift your favorite kid their very own weather station. This nice, neat, horizontal model looks unobtrusive with any decor, and gives burgeoning weathermen (and women) a glimpse into their meteorological future. It clearly displays the immediate temperature, the barometric pressure, humidity, and even boasts a cute graphic of sun, clouds, rain or snow. There'll be no more guesswork on the daily outfits (you know: long sleeves and heavy leggings on a 90 degree scorcher). And they'll learn the basics of just how the weather works.

Locate this teachable moment at www.bedolwhatsnext.com. The forecast is clear.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Major Lip Service

Ever try a product purely by chance, and then lose track of it? When I was in Europe last year, I stocked up on (much more reasonably priced on the Continent) La Roche-Posay products. This simple lip "treatment" was among them. It was a miracle worker, and now that I've found it again, it makes a perfect little gift for your favorite product junkie.

Some balms are sticky. Some are slick. Some taste nasty. Some stink. La Roche-Posay's Nutritic lip treatment possesses none of these aforementioned qualities. Odorless, tasteless, and almost textureless, Nutritic goes on smoothly, like the thinnest coating of moisture. There's absolutely no glop. Chapped lips vanish and your pucker returns to its youthful bee-stung glory. It contains no sunscreen (probably the reason why it doesn't stink or taste foul), so it's more of a night treatment or as a lipstick base. It's also ideal, I discovered, for a long, dehydrating flight.

I finally found it online at the site: www.laroche-posay.com. One Nutritic will also last for months and months, so for $12.50 US dollars, there's no reason to be tight-lipped (or tight-fisted) about purchasing a bunch and handing them out like the helpful Little Lip Fairy you are.

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Pen with Personality for Pesky Notes

Letter writers are, alas, a dying breed. With the advance of email, evites, texts and all other technological communications, the art of the letter (indeed, even the art of good handwriting) is as rare as finding a brontosaurus sampling your hydrangeas in your backyard.

But everyone still has to write thank you notes (we haven't become that uncivilized, not yet). And this beautifully designed pen helps to do it with style. It may look like a nicely shaped red ballpoint, but the novelty is on the end: hanko. Hanko, for those not in the know, is a Japanese stamp used to imprint important documents and communications. You can choose for your thank you note writer (really, a perfect gift for the bride) between an asterisk, a heart, or a pointing hand. This pen is really cool and reasonably priced, especially compared to fancy pens from other companies (we all know what those are).

Locate the hanko pen at www.cooperhewitt.org. Then let your letter writer make her mark, all over the place.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nail Art Snob

You might be wandering around with ragged cuticles and trailer trash chipping on your toes, but I guarantee you your mani/pedi obsessed friend isn't. You know the one: she always has the latest, greatest shade (first to sport OPI's I'm Not Really a Waitress), and even if she dresses in rags, her nails are picture perfect.

May I suggest these nail color sets. The lacquer company StrangeBeautiful bases their shades more on artwork and architecture rather than on locale and silliness. These two collections aren't ordinary colors. They're colors nabbed from Warhol prints and Albers tones. And all the colors are just slightly off, transforming them into true nail art. Plus, there's no snotty labeling or cutesy names, just lovely little bottles in a lucite box (so nice displayed on a vanity).

Thus far, the only place to purchase the StrangeBeautiful libraries is at www.bergdorfgoodman.com. And that fact doesn't surprise me one bit.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sweet Tea that Packs a Punch

The dog days of summer aren't here yet, but they're approaching. Soon, you'll be beset with barbeque invites and swimming parties. and it's always good to bring a gift. Especially if the gift can be consumed.

Sweet tea is a summer southern tradition. It's delicious and thirst-quenching. But sometimes, when the kids are screaming around the pool and the lighter fluid's exploding, you need something stiffer. Meet Jeremiah Weed Sweet Tea Vodka. I recently had a martini made from this stuff (had a bit of sweet and sour mix shaken into it, in a sugar-rimmed martini glass), and it was a mind blower. So yummy. Such a perfect southern drink that suits just about anyplace across America.

Naturally, something this good is hard to find. You can't order from the site, but they'll helpfully answer your queries via email. Go to www.jeremiahweed.com and ask for availability in your state. And then settle back and sip away.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Camp Prep for the Gifted

This is a product I truly wish I'd heard about, say, two weeks ago. It would have saved much time, steamy ironing and ink stains. Oh, well. My loss is your gain. If, that is, you're preparing to send your child off to sleepaway camp.

Honestly, the prep involved in readying your kid for three weeks of independent fun defies belief. Everything needs to be labeled with your progeny's name. But every item appears to require a different type of label. And after wrestling with the iron for an afternoon, I can honestly say that those iron-on labels are a failure. 

Enter Stikins. These super-adhesive stickers come in different sizes and stickiness for different uses. There's no ironing necessary (thank god, because if you thought slaving over a hot stove was the pits, try a hot iron on an early summer's afternoon). And all you have to do is order your assortment of sizes and types with the child's name. It's so easy, it's criminal.

This being said, you'll still have to pack the trunk, mail it off, and undergo the maternal stress of sending your kid off into the blue yonder solo. At least you won't be crying about the labeling job anymore. Find the stickers at www.LabelLighthouse.com.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Making a Croc of Cocktails.

This entry isn't a gushy recommendation. This is more of a revenge hostess gift, perfect for the party held by people you don't like, who'd you'd just as soon never see again. This gift just might ensure a complete party ban for you, but at least you'll be laughing.

You know about Crocs. God, who doesn't? The hideous shoes simply meant for waddling to the beach and back (thus offending only sea gulls, and they're already so offensive that it really doesn't matter) have somehow become a part of popular culture. Crocs are everywhere, in every blinding bright color, displaying their plastic awfulness in a shameless fashion. And with these cocktail coasters, Crocs have invaded cocktail hour, too. I barely have words for how tasteless these things are. Not only because they are Crocs, but because in using them, you're resting something you're going to place in your mouth inside a sweaty little shoe. Gross.

Not only will these Croc coasters guarantee party ineligibility (at least where that hostess is concerned), they're also on sale. Why pay a lot for bad taste? Order at www.surlatable.com.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Ice Cubes Looking Round

Ah, the drinkophile. They study the bartending books like sacred texts, own every type of liquor known to man, and often try to ply you with esoteric drinks involving rye whiskey and gin. They're a hangover wrapped in a pretty friend package, but you love them anyway. And now, it's time to add to their alcoholic gadgets.

Yes, they're called ice cubes for a reason, because they're square. Except for these cubes, which are, well, looking quite round (no, not looking 'round, ice cubes have no eyes, at least not until the fifth drink). Trust the Japanese to come up with a more efficient ice cube: its spherical shape actually gives it less surface area to volume ratio, which means the "cube" melts more slowly. The result? Less diluted drinks, always a plus with the cocktail obsessed.

Locate these icy sphere molds at www.momastore.org. Send them, then get an invite for one stiff drink. Old fashioned glasses NOT included.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Big Cheese

I'm not implying your dad is actually cheesy. Some fathers really do like their dairy, though, and this is a perfect Father's Day present for them.

Imagine: your father sits down in front of his sport of choice, in front of him a sumptuous cheese selection and an alcoholic beverage. What could be better? Pictured is the Father's Day selection (Comte, a hard cheese, and a blue), but there's other selections offered. Pick from cheeses for white or red wine, or even go for the beer selection (Arrogant Bastard Ale, anyone?). Sure, if he indulged like this everyday, he'd have a coronary, but it's Father's Day! Why not make it a special occasion?

You'll find all the aforementioned cheesy gifts at www.artisinalcheese.com. Locate beer, wine and crackers on your own.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Pac Man Fever

This is probably not a news flash for anyone, but Father's Day is this Sunday. Easily the most frustrating of gifty holidays, since Dad is always notoriously difficult to gift. Luckily for many, Dad is also immature, so this present might suffice far better than that Vineyard Vines tie you were considering.

I'm talking Pac Man. Remember the classic video game (if you don't, chances are your Dad does, and has played his fair share). This little yellow big mouth has been gobbling ghosts since the 80's, and can now reside in your Dad's kitchen. The funny Pac Man potholder is tough as nails, thanks to super heat-resistant silicone construction. Dad could even use his little friend for barbecuing. Or, he might just run through the house, terrorizing his kids/grandkids with it. His choice.

The thing this gift doesn't include is the classic Pac Man beeper theme song. You'll have to download that ringtone for your father's cell if you require musical accompaniment. Find Mr. Man at www.fredflare.com.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Cookie for Tushies

Sometimes there's an item that's just so cute, I have to promote it. Generally, I think there are too many decorative pillows in the world (and especially on people's living room couches, preventing me from sitting down). But this one is great and serves multi-gifting uses, from a new baby to a wedding present.

This is one big fortune cookie. Made of recycled felt (from plastic bottles), it's soft and squishy yet still entirely representative of what it's supposed to be in all its cookie glory. It even has a pocket, so you can craft your own "good fortune" message and stuff it in there. Later in the pillow's life, this pocket will become the repository for all sorts of things, some welcome and some literally leftovers. But, for now, the pocket is a great opportunity for personal communication.

This incredible pillow of good fortune is available through Diffraction Fiber at etsy.com. This company also makes a great fried egg version if you want a savory companion.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wooly Pockets for Weetle Plants

Gardening is an endless task. And there's always something new for the dedicated gardener to tackle, like, say, vertical wall gardens. Hanging gardens are an ancient idea (think of the original hanging gardens, one of the seven wonders of the world), but seem like they'd need some feat of engineering to pull them off. Not anymore.

Say hello to Wooly Pocket, the new container system for ambitious gardeners. Each container (the Wooly Pocket) is a soft, flexible enclosure for groups of plants. When mounted on the wall (their site gives excellent instructions), the pockets keep moisture away from the wall but still allow the plant to breathe. They're available in both floor models (The Meadow) and wall mounted versions (Wooly Wallys), so you can double your wooly planting enjoyment. And, the Wooly Pockets are made of 100% green materials, for a truly green garden.

Wooly Pockets are pretty reasonably priced, too, so you can purchase a three wall mount set for your favorite green thumb. I'm sure a hanging garden fit for a Babylonian princess is in their future. Find out all about Wooly Pockets at www.woolypocket.com.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

For the Tragic Poetess

Almost every female undergrad has had a Sylvia Plath obsession at one time or another. But only the coolest went directly for the motherlode of female tragedy and rage, Anne Sexton.  Angry, needy, and able to rewrite the Brothers Grimm into something entirely new and infinitely creepier, Sexton had sex appeal and tragedy all wrapped up (but without the tinge of the pathetic).

So check out this gift for your favorite poetess (currently undergrad or not). Leviticus jewelry offers this simple pendant sporting Sexton's defiantly provocative mug. She can sport it to book group (forget chick lit) and start some real conversation (Ballad of the Lonely Masturbator, anyone?). After all, Sexton would sanction the shaking up of the status quo.

The Anne Sexton pendant is available at www.leviticusjewelry.com. And throw in a volume of Sexton's poems while you're at it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Jiffy Pop Moderne

It's pretty much a universal truth that everyone enjoys popcorn. After all, it's crunchy, salty, often buttery, high in fiber and relatively low in calories. What's not to love?

Well, how about microwave popcorn, for starters. Those flat inflatable packets are an affront to snack lovers everywhere. It's not just that microwave popcorn is expensive, it also smells gross, as if the quality of the corn was worse than cattle fodder. But microwaving's so darn easy! What's a corn lover to do? Try this modernist Catamount microwave popcorn popper. It lets you choose the amount, add your choice of fat (there's a butter melter on top), and, best of all, choose your own high quality, gourmet popping corn. 

This is the ideal present for your couch potato of choice. Find it at www.surlatable.com. Home movies will never be the same.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Delivering the Message

Remember back when you had roommates? And one (normally your best friend) was also a note-leaver. As in leaving little notes everywhere for other roommates, making requests and subtle complaints. The passive aggressive action was enough to drive you mad. She was almost strangled on several occasions.

Well, here's a fabulous gift for your passive aggressive buddy. These books, Passive Aggressive Notes and Your Mother Doesn't Work Here, are collections (compiled by Kerry Miller) of this peculiar form of communication from the office space to the living space, to, perhaps, deep space. After all, the passive aggressive note dropper lurks wherever people might be behaving badly. This would also make an excellent gift for a loather of passive aggressive notes, to be displayed prominently in their cubicle as a notification of a lack of tolerance for PA BS.

Find these wonderful books on www.passiveaggressivenotes.com. Make a note of it.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Breakfast: The Most Important Meal of the Day

That's what they say, anyway. Some of us wouldn't know anything about that, since we gulp our hot, sugary coffee first thing in the am and then wait until severe blood sugar issues set in later. But, one must set a good example for one's kinder, so here's a gift to help them learn the value of a healthy start in the morn.

These Yummy Breakfast keychains offer friendly, wide-eyed and alert examples of breakfast for children. Los Angeles kid fashion demands the keychains be attached to backpacks for prominent public display, either switched out regularly or in multiples. There's a wide variety of breakfast options offered, from the typical milk to the unhealthy yet satisfying donut to the college-bound pizza slice. And here's the fun part: this is a blind assortment. Every time you give a little box of Yummy Breakfast, its contents are a mystery. The goal is to collect them all, but it would probably take a while, so this gift has some serious legs.

Locate Yummy Breakfast keychains at www.kidrobot.com. Hey, they're only five bucks, so why not order up a teachable moment?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Wedding Flagon

No, no, no, not the Wedding Dragon (that's the Mother of the Bride). This is the Wedding Flagon, another off-registry gift for the independent and stylish wedding couple, from you, the stylish yet not independently wealthy wedding guest.

This is not your typical flagon. First off, it's basic black. Second, it's lightweight and unbreakable. Third, it doubles as a real thermos, so it can carry coffee or lemonade, hot buttered rum or mojitos. Finally, it may be constructed of some sort of polymer, but it's made by the venerable Royal Copenhagen, beloved of many brides, even extremely modern ones. What could be bad?

Did I mention it's under a hundred bucks? What a great gift for the beverage inclined. Locate the flagon at www.roseandradish.com.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Catch a Wasp and Never Let It Go

Outdoor eating season is upon us. The smell of barbeque, the icy drinks, the squealing children are all so fabulous. But here's what's NOT fabulous about outdoor eating: the bugs.

Especially the ones that sting. Like wasps and their nasty cousins, yellowjackets. They're enough to make you mad as a hornet. And forget those poisonous sprays, since who wants those all over the foodstuffs. This attractive Wasp Catcher is the answer (and a great barbeque hostess gift as well). Using plain old sugar water, the Catcher attracts and traps greedy insects for good, keeping them out of mischief. Plus, these things are made of recycled glass and are actually pretty (although perhaps less pretty when filled with angry, buzzing bugs).

I suppose you're free to experiment with the bait. Like packing the thing full of ham with mayo on white to catch a completely different type of Wasp. That, my friend, is up to you. Find these very reasonable cookout savers (just $13) at www.gaiam.com.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In Sickness and In Comfort

Ah, it's wedding season once again! You know, that time when couples get together, make commitments, and demand gifts that they (blessedly) pick out. But what about the pesky betrothed who (gasp) don't register? What do you get them on a budget?

Try a little comfort. Nothing tests a marriage more than that "in sickness" clause, and nothing helps to comfort the sick and needy more than this gift. I'm talking soup and sandwich on a tray. These ceramic trays conveniently combine the essentials for good caregiving, with a generous bowl for soup and perfect indentation for a grilled cheese. And a set of the beauties will only set you back about thirty bucks, a veritable bargain for a wedding present.

The soup and sandwich tray duo is available at www.uncommongoods.com. And if you wanted, you could even add some "pop" with a can of Campbell's tomato soup.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Single Bullet

Ever heard the "single bullet" theory of love? It's the one in which, on this earth, one person is your "bullet," and once you've met them, you're shot... but in a good way. In other words, your "single bullet" is the love of your life.

So maybe it's only fitting (if you're lucky enough to have been struck by your own "single bullet"), to distribute some ammo to celebrate. Unearthen has just the thing. These pendants, formed using real bullet casing (different mm for different sized pendants), encase a semi-precious "bullet" shaped gem, ranging from amethyst to pyrite to even ruby (that's one expensive single shot, but hey, it's your love life). All of these pendants are bit more than the usual Find a Toad range, but I'm willing to make an exception for quality now and again. Especially if it's in the name of true love.

Go to www.seeunearthen.com and check out the ammo selection. They might make your love's heart go bang.