Monday, October 31, 2011

Give Your Toddler a Relic From Your Past

Fisher Price definitely knows its market: parents who grew up on its toys. Now the company has re-released a bevy of toys from our childhoods. No, not the garage (you can search for that on Ebay). But just about every other toy, from the Xylophone to the Milk Wagon, is ready to be purchased for your eager child.

My personal favorite, Toy Story 3 aside, is this Chatter Phone. With its happy face and cheerful demeanor, the phone can be pulled from room to room, creating that classic child tripping hazard we've all come to expect from beloved toys. The weirdest thing about the Chatter Phone, though, is while we recognize this as telephone (and always will), it's doubtful that our kids will recognize as anything except some strange multi-colored creature that makes strange ringing sounds. I mean, when's the last time you used a dial up phone? Or even a phone with a cord? Does your phone make a brriinngg noise? I think not. Your phone is a tiny computer that live in your purse and plays Lady Gaga. And that's what your child thinks a phone is.

I write about this object disconnect for the wonderful blog, LA Moms Dig, so you can read about this further. In the meantime, even though you and your child won't see eye to eye on what this Chatter Phone is really supposed to signify, no matter. It's still a great toy, noisy and tactile and good for motor skill development. Find it at Vermont Country Store.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Animal Abuse?

For Foxy's sake, I hope those are fresh socks.
I always hit this gift wall around this time every year. There's this lull between Halloween (not a very gift heavy holiday) and November (when the Christmas/Hanukah craziness begins in earnest). It's this time of year when I like to focus on a horribly misguided gift idea, a product that never should have seen the light of day, but packs some comic relief.

The Toad is an animal lover. There's a dog and many cats roaming her abode. But somehow, she just can't stomach the questionable charms of this Furry Red Fox Footrest. First off, its body shape is completely wrong, truncated and thickened for the slave labor of holding dirty feet up off the carpet. His expression is imploring, telling you every minute that he was meant for better things than this, and indeed would rather be chased through some forest by a bunch of dogs and red coated twits on horseback than be part of your living room decor. But the final indignity of the entire scenario? What the dog does to him when you're not at home.

Ironically, animal fan Martha Steward is the designer responsible for this much maligned beast. We all knew she had a sadistic streak, but I thought it was reserved for employees and family members, not innocent stuffed animals. For shame. At Grandin Road for $179.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Very Pretty Art by a Very Pretty Person

Normally, I steer clear of art recommendations as gifts. Art is just such a subjective thing. While there's art I very much like and appreciate, it might not be the art I'd like to live with every day. And what I like, others may loathe. For instance, over my fireplace, I have a four foot long blow up of a photograph of the Hollywood Hills (complete with sign) on fire. I think it's a fantastic shot and sort of witty to boot, but one of my friends hates it and says it gives her massive anxiety. Fair enough.

This art, however, is very pretty and thoughtful. Created by the very lovely all around person Emily Cline (an artist, actress and model creating out of Larchmont, New York), these prints and collages are misty and melancholy, full of flower imagery, yet not at all frilly. Some of them include words (usually about self knowledge or transformation), and all have just glorious color combinations. Emily calls her print line Ruby Shea, and one of her prints, especially framed, would make a lovely gift. Because, if you're good enough friends, you have an inkling of the type of art your giftee gravitates toward.

Here's the best part: every print is around $30! That's really reasonable for original art prints made on excellent paper. Check out Ruby Shea on Etsy and buy some very pretty art from a very pretty person.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

This Halloween, Get the Gopher

It's an official Bushwood shirt!
You know, parents spend a lot of time worrying about and planning the kid's costume, but they never consider their own. Here's where the Toad can help those hapless Dads who need a costume, stat, before they end up sweating buckets all night in a muscled Batman uniform.

Ask any Dad of a certain vintage to recite a list of favorite movies (and I mean favorite, not highbrow), and he's pretty sure to have Caddyshack somewhere on that list. While women like the movie, men are obsessed with it, reciting lines, remembering paltry details, and for some reason worshiping Chevy Chase's hapless and moonfaced country club member. My boyfriend even named one of his cars the Flying Wasp, for god's sake. But the movie's true memorable character (apart from the wily gopher) was Bill Murray's sinister groundskeeper Carl Spackler. Carl was a pervert. Carl was a moron. Carl ate a soggy Baby Ruth posing as a turd, for god's sake. But Carl was a total original; the character stands out in cinematic history, and was probably the model for many idiotic characters to come (Beavis and Butthead springs to mind). Now the Dad of your choice can choose to dress like Carl, complete with goofy hat, and relive his glory days.

Find Carl at 80s Tees. You'll have to buy the Baby Ruth and the garden hose separately.

Friday, October 14, 2011

A Real Beauty of a Blog

This woman has done her research, and thus can relax!
This post is more of a recommendation than a gift idea, since it's free and all. As a blogger, I'm always on the look out for credible and entertaining blogs. And if I can find a blog that actually offers useful information and is credible, I'm all over it.

Take, for instance, the blog The Beauty Brains. I'm as gullible as anyone else when it comes to beauty products; I could probably spend a small fortune inside any beauty supply, which is why I steer way clear of Sephora. But, I'm smart enough to know that most of the beauty products out there are total bullshit; the publicity juggernaut drives coverage, not real results. But on this blog, real scientists answer beauty questions about specific products (and they mention the products by name). The authorities here pull no punches in crying foul regarding much touted miracle ingredients or insanely good "breakthroughs" which turn out to only breakthrough your credit limit. It's refreshing, I tell you. Plus, when the Beauty Brains do receive products for free, they only explain what they are rather than "reviewing" them (after all, how can you truly trust a review when you know the reviewer gets the goods gratis?).

Anyway, I find The Beauty Brains amusing, and it just might help you order beauty products for a giftee with complete confidence. Because nothing's more aging than the rage you experience when you realize you've been ripped off.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Built a Better Earbud

I'm going to admit that perhaps this is my own problem: Apple earbuds don't fit in my ears. They chafe and fall out. They drive me crazy. And, this ear problem has impeded my ability to speak without holding a possibly cancer causing iPhone up to my head the majority of the day.

Still, I figure if I have this ear problem, other people must have it too. That's why I'm featuring these super stylish, definitely better built earbuds from Urbanista. Called the "London," these buds will actually stay inside the ear without wounds. They come with a little speaker, and work with virtually any phone or device (but especially iPhones). Plus, they're so cute. Besides this color, called "Red Snapper," they come in bright green or black for particularly colorful conversations.

At $69, they're pricey compared to the free ones delivered with the iPhone. But that seems like a small price to pay for comfort, convenience, and a whole lot less radiation next to your giftee's noggin. At Urbanista.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Halloween: Raw and Delicious

I have great nostalgia for the costumes I used to make as a child. Perhaps the most memorable one was an entire box of Kleenex I created for my little sister; she won first prize at school masquerading as a pile of disposable hankies. It was a fine moment.

But, my teenage artistry cannot compare with the store bought costumes available for kids now. Let's face it: they're perfect. Every detail, every bell and whistle, has been considered from head to toe. All you have to do is have your kid point to the image of her choice and pay with a credit card for an instantly perfect costume. And since I am no longer crafty or sew at all (you DO NOT want to arm me with a hot glue gun; the cursing is unbelievable), I'm usually more than willing to order it and forget it.

These nigiri sushi costumes, however, by Not The Kitchen Sink, sort of seem like the best of both worlds. Yes, they are adorable and absolutely representative of pieces of fish, rice, and seaweed. And yet, these felt tidbits still have a delightfully home made look about them. I can almost picture my own mother (if my own mother had eaten sushi in the 1970s) creating one of these costumes for her kids. I'm tempted to order one for my niece to be, due around Christmas, so that she can be a sweet shrimp next year.

Each sushi piece will run you about $60, which is close to other store bought costume prices, but these costumes have a bit more charm. Not The Kitchen Sink also sells a Kikkoman Soy Sauce bottle costume, for those looking for an entire meal to escort down the street. At Etsy.