Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nails In Your Coffin?

Maybe I'm just too old for this shit, but nail polish trends seem  stupid to me. They're too hard to pull off. One of my more arty friends tried that "shattered" nail polish look recently, and was pretty non plussed; it didn't look so much shattered as simply a polish mistake.

So, enter what the beauty industry is calling the hottest nail trend: magnetic nail polish. The London based polish company Nails Inc. invented polish with tiny magnetic particles in it, and a special magnet in the removable top. The idea is that you apply the polish, and then hold the magnet top over the second coat to create a "3D" wavy effect. Thus far, there's only three colors: chrome, gold, and a metallic purple shade. It's oh so very Katy Perry, if Katy Perry weren't already shilling that "shattered" crap.

The big problem with this "revolutionary" "3D'" effect is that it kind of makes your now darkly metallic nails look like they have ridges in them. And, as anyone knows, ridges in the nails are not exactly a sign of glorious good health (then again, neither are corpse-like polish shades, like all the swamp greens and odd grays I've seen in the salons, but I digress). In fact, horizontal ridges on the nail beds, as pictured on this hand model, are a sign of major stress.

As I feel I already display my stress quite adequately on my face, in my belly fat and in my overly aggressive driving style, I don't really see the benefit to having it show on my nails, too. I'm going to leave this nail trend to the ten year olds who have the time and inclination to fart around with silly shades and magnet tops. Find it for your favorite pre-teen at Sephora. It might be perfect for Halloween!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Wild Photos

Now that summer's ending, you probably have photos all over the place, documenting your travels, holidays, or just plain lazy torpor. But not all those photos are framable keepers. What about the ones you just want to display for a brief time?

While there's always the fridge (although not even then; my stainless finish repels magnets like teflon), I think there has to be a better venue. Enter Animags! These cute little magnetic picture stands from Japan (that means they're quality and hard to find) are available in four different animals: bear, deer, a cow and a hammerhead shark out of water. They conveniently hold these temporary pics on your desk or window sill or whatever, until you're ready to change them up. Did I mention they're really cute?

Buy all four at Photo Jojo for $30 and give them to a grandparent with an envelope full of shots. It's a terrific low cost family gift.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Brown Bag Masquerade

Finally, all the kids are back at school. Besides the totally crappy early mornings, back to school is a real blessing: the house is quiet and the parents heave a sigh of relief. Still, there's always the pressing issue of lunch.

I must say, I rarely have the school lunch dilemma, mostly because my kid buys fancy lunch at school, which is about fifty million times better than anything I could stuff in a bag for her. But not everyone has the school lunch option, and thus, the transport conundrum. Brown paper bags are out. Old fashioned lunch boxes appear to be something to collect, not something to tote. And while I've written about fancy plastic bento box like arrangements, I've now road tested them and concluded they're way more trouble than they're worth. So how does your kid carry the lunch? How about in these colorful, cool insulated bags by Built? The bag is pretty simple, but fairly indestructible (read: easy to clean neoprene). Your child may choose from a variety of patterns. Plus, it squishes down and takes up less space in those already crammed backpacks.

You can find these permo bags ($18 for the mini size) at Built. Of course, you won't find lunch there. That, sadly, you must still create and pack yourself; brace for the onslaught of complaints.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Great Pop Culture Costume

Yes, I know it's not even October yet, but I figured I'd start now on the Halloween costumes, sprinkling my finds throughout the next couple of weeks. While we only see Halloween as a chance to steal our kid's candy (fun-sized Snickers, yum), the choice of costume is a big deal for kids.

What's also been a big deal for a long time is the trend of women dressing like, ahem, sluts on Halloween. Yes, I agree it's all in good fun, and I even used to occasionally indulge myself (Pris from Blade Runner, anyone?), but I'm seeing it trickle down into little girl costumes. That's where I draw the line; my daughter has her whole life to sleaze it up, but it's not going to be on my watch, or on my dime.

That's why this Sue Sylvester outfit from the show "Glee" is so funny. It's simply the antithesis of slut night. Covered up, almost unisex, bad hair, loud whistle, and it's a character played by Jane Lynch, one of the funniest actresses in recent years. Alternatively, you could buy this outfit, stick a man's wig on the kid, and say she's channeling "The Royal Tennenbaums." Up to you.

This costume is also on sale, for about $45. While this sounds steep, at least it's a track suit instead of two strings and some coconut shells. At Costume Supercenter. Whistle or megaphone is extra.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Old Bat Phone

Mobile phones have pretty much taken over the universe. One decent mobile phone has the computer power probably capable of sending people to the moon, yet we use them for mundane activities, like scheduling, texting, emailing, and sometimes just old fashioned conversation.

However, everyone has that Luddite in their life who either refuses to get a mobile phone, or insists the one they have is too complicated. And even though we roll our eyes at them, try to give them technology assistance, and eventually even holler at them in frustration, they are stubborn mules. What to do? How about the gift of a John's Phone? Made by Dutch designer John Doe Amsterdam, this phone is whittled down to the simplest of tasks: phone calls. It will make and take calls. It will not text, email, or engage in late '90s techno ringtones. The John's Phone works with any SIM card, has a talking time of six hours, and a standby time of 3 weeks. It requires no contract and includes an earpiece for safe conversing while driving. Plus, its larger keyboard is easy to use, and it boasts a pad of paper and a pen for taking messages (how much more Luddite can you get?).

Although I think this phone is ideal for the recalcitrant yet needy older parent in your life, its lack of text and email abilities lend itself well to kids and teens. Hey, if the option's not there, they can't abuse it! Find the Old Bat... oops, John's Phone at A+R for $160.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Leather Bagging it This Fall

Finding a good bag is always an infuriating task. Sure, you can read all about the alligator bags you'll never own on Bag Snob, and browse the trend sites (there's some real dogs on those, all junked up with chains and animal prints), but there's so much more to a good bag than a high price point and trend appeal.

I'm talking good design here. Something that can hold all your stuff, but not much more, so that you don't end up looking like a sherpa. Something that might actually hold up through all the tossing around, setting on restaurant floors (yes, gross, but unavoidable), and various coffee drips. This season there's a bunch of very plain, "classic" looking bags, all of which I'm enthusiastic about, except that many of them are just too ladylike for the likes of me, or too small. So, when I found this JW Hulme Legacy bag at Barney's Co Op, I was thrilled. It looks like a cross between a saddlebag and a Coach bag, but it's more stylish than the former and less recognizable than the latter. The brand has been around since 1905, and it's an American made product (they'll even monogram it for you for free, but I thought that was too preppy for me). Plus, for such a quality bag (it boasts good compartments inside for glasses and phone), it's at a great price point: about $410.

Yes, at $410 this is way over The Toad's $200 limit. But this is probably a gift for you. And there's a mini version which is less (I couldn't fit my mega-sized wallet into it, which is the reason I got the regular size). Plus, this is a bag that simply won't go out of style, ever. Check it out at Barney's. If you know your giftee well, and love them a lot, you could even gift it to them, monogrammed and everything.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Give a Bronx Cheer for Target and Missoni

Poor Ms. Missoni better be a good sprinter.
It seems as though Target's been pushing its Missoni collaboration for like a year now, rolling out a publicity juggernaut in every magazine and blog in the known universe. The predictable result: a bunch of heaving shoppers sweating in their anticipation of cheap China made goods dressed up to look like heirloom quality Italian goods. If only Target could have followed through on its promise.

You see the picture of that glamourous woman, dressed head to toe in Missoni for Target? She's pulling down her glasses and staring in disbelief at the raging crowd running at her to tear those bargain basement Missoni togs from her fleeing body. In a minute, she'll be ducking into the nearest Venetian canal and sliming her poly blend knits just to escape the madness. Seriously, I heard the scene at most Targets was one of total chaos, as amateur and professional shoppers alike stormed the place, scooping up every chevron stripe they could find. After it all disappeared from the Target shelves, it magically reappeared, at brand new magically elevated prices, on Ebay. What a crock.

Don't believe me? Go to the Target online store and check out what's left. It's one sad little assortment. That cute cut rate Missoni flower rug I was thinking of getting for my daughter's room is long gone, now being sold on Ebay for the price of a silk Tibetan magic carpet. I say "boo" to this. And an extra long Bronx cheer for Target, for creating this nonsense in the first place. Go buy real Missoni and skip this b.s..

And that's what The Toad has to say on this subject. The End.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bless the Baby (and Aunt Sheri)

There's nothing quite like a new baby in the family. It usually brings out the greatest expansion of joy, as friends and relatives gather to "shower" the new mom and baby with gifts. And nothing beats the gift of a hand knit, handmade baby blanket.

Take, for instance, this unbelievably hip and vibrant blanket, made by my Aunt Sheri, for my sister's daughter. There's no question that Aunt Sheri has created a family heirloom. She purposely didn't use pastels, a design choice I wholeheartedly support. I can't even imagine the time, creativity, and work that went into the creation of this blanket (and I didn't even include the little purple knit hat, with flower, that accompanied it. At that point, Aunt Sheri was radically, and righteously, showing off her goods). Now, not everyone is lucky enough to have a talented and generous Aunt Sheri. That's why you might have to give the gift made by an outsider, like this other blanket found on Etsy. Yes, it's not as spectacular, but Aunt Sheri has a very demanding full time profession (NOT knitting), and can't make blankets for everyone.

So, go to this link on Etsy and check out this blanket for the new baby in the family. And, before you do, give props to Aunt Sheri, knitter and Aunt extraordinaire.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vintage Potter

I'm totally fussy about kid room decor. I hate themes, eschew Disney, and think infantile furniture shouldn't even be for infants.

Yet, this vintage style Harry Potter poster, by artist Caroline Hadilaksano, is totally intriguing. Reminiscent of old Olympic posters, this Quidditch 2014 poster capitalizes on the (basically done) Harry Potter phenomenon to great effect; it almost looks like a real event poster. Stylized, done in sports appropriate (yet somehow wizardly) colors, this poster expresses the power of the actual books rather than the movies, a trend I wholeheartedly condone. Yes, I read all the Harry Potter books, dork that I am, and I loved them infinitely more than the movies.

There are two more Potter posters: Travel with the Hogwarts Express, and Experience Hogwarts at Night. Both are fairly fabulous. These are good quality posters, priced at $50 each, which isn't cheap, but isn't terrible for a poster with real art staying power. Find them at Gallery Nucleus.

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Snowglobe for All Seasons

I know, I know: you're wondering if The Toad has finally given in to the holiday pressure. It is totally ridiculous, seeing Halloween stuff on display in July, and Christmas in residence by September.

I admit that I could have waited to post this piece, but I just loved it too much. Besides, this might be a snowglobe, but it has nothing to do with any holiday I know of.  LigoranoReese has created a line of these blizzarding spheres based upon the Seven Deadly Sins. These hilariously useless objects proclaim your sin of choice in blissful good cheer. I would strategically place Gluttony in the kitchen, reserve Lust for (where else) the bedroom, and give Greed away to my richest friends. These globes, besides being funny, are beautifully made (no el cheapo souvenir store crap here) and should be treated as art objects, not toys.

 At $125 each, these globes are a bit of an investment. Find all seven sins (thus the sins of your choice) at Artware Editions.