Friday, October 30, 2009

China Syn-Gnome

It's no great secret that I feature a fair amount of gnomish (gnomic?) merchandise on this blog. You see, whether it's in the garden (I have a garden gnome holding, incongruously, a fish) or in your living room (Starck Gnome table, anyone?), I think a gnome delivers humor, irony and funk in one winsome package.

So here's a new gnome. If you haven't figured it out by now, he hails from China. Yeah, I know, gnomes are from Norway or some such Nordic place. China is for dragons and crouching tigers. But this guy is so... bizarre. He's not exactly plump. He's not exactly welcoming, although he is holding a magic mushroom. And he's dressed up like Chairman Mao. He's also a stuffed shirt, so I wouldn't place him in the garden. Perhaps on the couch as a throw pillow. If you think he'd tolerate that sort of treatment. Don't be surprised if you find the house pets gathered around him one fine morning for a session of healthy self-criticism.

Order this guy for the gnome fan in your life. He'll add something new and different to the decor. At

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Public Transit T

At first, this item looks like a gag gift, but it isn't really. It's just specific to the public transit commuter (like my sister, who rides the NYC subway every day).

Every devotee of public transportation has some interesting, often traumatic, often very funny story to tell about her crowded journey. Flashers, muggers, the unwashed, the insensitive, and the extremely noisy (and sometimes insane) all make an appearance on a daily public commute. And this t-shirt reminds public commuters to (in Japanese, no less) "Beware of Perverts." Such good advice, particularly for the ladies. Send this top to any hardcore commuting woman, and she will laugh and thank you (and maybe even wear it on the subway, scaring off Japanese tourists by the tour bus-full).

This reminder of the commuter's plight is available at Order them as gifts and spread the awareness far and wide.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

You Are The Cheese?

Maybe it's that I just finished Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, but I really do feel that people are examining the origins of their food more carefully. And while this sort of foodie paranoia can grow tiresome, it can also spur someone to create good stuff to share.

Take cheese, for instance. Fresh mozzarella cheese, more specifically. Sure, your foodie friends could pick it up at the market anytime, but where's the control? If you gift them this home cheesemaking kit from Zingerman's Holiday Food Catalog, they can control all the means of production. Time and place, milk quality, quantities and cost efficiency all come into play as they create their very own curds and whey. This simple kit delivers 48 batches of cheese with fairly minimal effort. That's a whole lotta caprese! That means that you, the gifter, get to enjoy the "fruits" of the giftee's labor.

And this extravagance of dairy is available for just $35 (not including the cost of some high quality, non-ultra-pasturized milk). Order through It's one cheesy gift they'll celebrate.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Photo DIno

Often technology, which starts out as a miracle, ends up going the way of the dinosaur. So be it with Polaroid camera technology. Once the party fave for quick candids, it's been replaced by the uploadable, retouchable, totally accessible and distributable digital camera (aka, your phone).

That's why this ceramic ware Polaroid camera is so ideal. It's like a fossil record of film technology. Because, let's face it: the only thing a Polaroid camera is good for anymore is as a paperweight. So give this facsimile to your favorite camera buff for display purposes only. It can sit as evidence of progress, a concrete memory of past parties, and a reminder that, eventually, all good things gather dust (some far more attractively than others).

Find this photo dino at And then take a good, hard look at your iPhone. It might, someday, end up atop a mantel too.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Da Bird

It's true that decor is a very personal affair. One person's fabulous industrial age find might be another's Hummel figurine hideousness. But, (in this crowd, anyway), most of us are into the unusual, the quirky, and often the one-of-a-kind.

Thus, first I show you this parrot (Da Bird) that kind of goes everywhere precisely because he doesn't really match up with anything. Seriously. He's sort of crabby and fishy-eyed, and yet he has a sort of jungle-worn dignity. Presently, I can think of at least three people on my gift list who might appreciate Da Bird, all for different reasons (and I'm sure they'd all display his brilliant plumage in different places in the house). And the best thing is, he looks like a one-off, but he's actually a multiple, from Gary Gibson in Los Angeles.

Now, normally, I just discuss a particular item, but in this design studio/shop's case I'm making an exception. This store is just brimming with fabulous random stuff. I'm talking about antique pencil sharpeners, fabulous lamps, interesting art, and tons of other items that help make a home a home. There's countless opportunities for a truly personal gift here, or you can give them Da Bird and they'll be tickled too.

Go immediately to

Monday, October 19, 2009

Cozy Comfy Texting

We don't suffer from this affliction in sunny Los Angeles (where the mercury rarely descends below 65 degrees), but in NYC, Philly, Seattle, and virtually everywhere else, digits get COLD. And what do cold digits lead to (besides possible frostbite)? They lead to lousy and inaccurate texting (possibly WORSE than possible frostbite).

Enter Freehands gloves. They masquerade as ordinary, indeed utilitarian gloves (no ultra-soft deerskin here with cashmere lining), but the index fingertip lifts off for instant phone operation. It's such an elegant solution to such a 2009 problem. Now, your commuting friend can brave the frigid east coast streets in comfort, knowing that they can text, tweet, and otherwise communicatively annoy others in a flash.

Plus, Freehands are a great gift because they're not pricey, simply innovative. Sometimes you don't have to pay a load for great design. Check out all the finger tapping options at

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

So NOT Barbie

Sure, politics march on (erratically and annoyingly), but there are plenty of the Obama faithful out there, with shirts and bumper stickers and bobble heads, too.

But they've been missing someone, and so has their Obama figurine. I'm talking Michelle, people. And now you can order Michelle in mini form. Choose from three different versions of the powerhouse First Lady. I'm particularly partial to the red and black Thakoon dress she wore on Election Night (yes, she did, and gave fashion a big boost to boot). Make sure she's right by his side at all times, since you know he's been lonely hanging out on their desk or dash or whatever.

The three faces of Michelle are waiting for your order at You could even have her infiltrate the Barbie house in your kid's room and get them all to register as Democrats.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Be Prepared

While I'm sure that you are prepared for every disaster, power outage, and eventuality, I'm sure you know people who are not. You know who they are. And this gift's for them.

Every area of the country and beyond has its own disaster scenarios. Here, the biggest threat is earthquakes, but many other areas handle ice storms, blizzards, hurricanes and other phenomena, all of which wipes out power. Without power, you're gonna need light, and that's where this Giga-Power camping lantern comes into play. The one I've shown has a simple push button ignition for a big 90 watts of power. That's more than enough to illuminate a room, and makes flashlights look like the toys they really are. Because this thing is NOT a toy; it's a survival tool.

Find the Giga-Power (and other tools for the apocalypse) at And make them be as prepared as you to face the lions of winter and beyond.

Friday, October 9, 2009

All Strain, Major Gain

As the weather turns colder, we start to crave the heartier entrees. A bowl of comforting, steaming hot pasta comes to mind. And while nothing is easier than preparing pasta, it does require some larger equipment: a big pot, a big strainer, and a big bowl.

With today's tighter kitchen quarters, any size reduction is a good plan. So meet the Fold-Away Colander, a shining example of excellent design. This full-sized strainer comes in a flat package and puts away just like a cutting board, thus taking up little of precious storage space. But, when it's time to drain the pound of pasta, it turns 3-D in a jiffy for fast operation. Very clever. It's just perfect for the college student or NYC apartment dweller who's pressed for space. Now, if they'd only invent a reliable collapsible stock pot, all storage dilemmas would be a thing of the past.

At only around $23, this colander is one useful gift purchase. Check it out at And hey, if the recipient is lucky enough to have a dishwasher, this item's dishwasher safe, too.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

October Gems

Normally, I think birthstone type jewelry is an abomination. Some low rent, low quality ring or pendant, stuffed with some reject stone and pawned off as being of birthday-specific importance. Yuck. Who wears those things, anyway?

Well, perhaps with this latest find I stand corrected. October's birthstone is the very pretty and dainty pink tourmaline, a glittery semi-precious gem. It could look like something only Barbie could love. But check out this lotus necklace by jewelry artist Margaret Solow. Crafted of five petal like pink tourmalines and 23 karat gold beads, this little flower looks more sculptural than silly. The pink verges into a more sophisticated purple shade (so fashionable this fall). And, at under $200, it's a fabulous present for your favorite Libra or Scorpio. Lovely, really.

Find this October surprise at And if the lotus doesn't strike your fancy, OK has loads of other beautiful choices.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Tiny Tropical Paradise

How short our memories are. First, we hate the summer heat. Then, it suddenly turns fall-like and we're nostalgic for summer. But here's a clue: it's not the steamy summer we crave, it's the tropical paradise we'd like to experience.

Unless you're a really great (and really rich) friend, the odds of sending another on a Hawaiian vacation are slim to none. But this gift really evokes the spirit of Hawaii and lazy days in a tropical garden. The Hawaiian Volcano plant is a real flowering tropical plant (this one's an anthurium, but there's a variety to choose from) growing out of a real chunk of volcanic material. It does so quite happily, as volcano rock soaks up all the water the plant needs to thrive. Apparently, these plants have even been blessed by a genuine Hawaiian Kahuna for maximum plant (and spiritual) growth. Hard to beat that.

Plus, I'm placing bets that these plants are difficult to destroy, making them ideal for even your plant-loving friends with the blackest of thumbs. Check out the tropical assortment at If you just add a great Mai Tai recipe to the mix, the perfect home paradise might be complete.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Hide The Leftovers

There's a little known secret to household (especially new household) harmony: hide the leftovers. And I mean any kind of "leftovers," from the dirty dishes left over from dinner (hide in dishwasher), to the filthy clothes left over from the day (deposit in, preferably hermetically sealed, laundry bin).

Here, though, I'm referring to real leftovers, like the kind produced after cooking for a new spouse and realizing there's enough casserole left over to feed a small nation. It's important to get that left over food out of sight, stat. And what better way to do it than with these glass Pyrex containers? They're not plastic, so you can reheat in them without fear of contaminants. They're not disposable, so you're helping the earth (for what to do once you've eaten the leftovers and are left with the container, see paragraph above). Plus, they even look nice all stacked up so neatly in the fridge, unlike that motley assortment of mismatched, stained Tupperware you've had for years. Ok, sure, this Pyrex isn't nearly as cool as the fab colored stuff your grandmother had, but its functionality and practicality is exactly the same.

This is an excellent wedding or housewarming gift, and it's so reasonably priced for a large set: 12 pieces for under 30 bucks. At those prices, you can afford to play hide the leftovers for many years to come. Find the set at

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Buttons for Smart People

Remember the early 1980's, when you (may) have worn those rainbow suspenders covered with buttons as actual fashion? If only these buttons had been around then; you may have looked like a supersmart academic librarian instead of an escapee from Ork.

I'm speaking of these witty, pithy, completely original pin-
them-anywhere buttons by Beanforest. Rather than
outdated campaign slogans or "I'm With Stupid," these buttons expound on literary terms, scientific jargon, and the graphic arts world. And, as all "buttons" do, they pin onto virtually anything, making them ideal for decorating bulletin boards and cubicle walls at work, embellishing a beloved jeans jacket, or (since Beanforest will make 'em magnetized) sticking all over the front of the fridge. Brilliant. Plus, at about a buck each, a handful makes a cute and cheap gift.

What you see here is, of course, a tiny percentage of the vast plethora of button choices available at Order in bulk and distribute to smart people everywhere.