Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Domestic Disturbances: The Art of Julie Blackmon

"Patio" by Julie Blackmon. Does it resonate for you?
Lately, I've been feeling the need to break free of both my self-imposed gift idea and pricing constraints. In another life, not too long ago, I bought lots of art (mostly photography). The thing I most regret is not purchasing any of photographer Julie Blackmon's work.

Blackmon tells rather sinister stories about everyday domestic life. Troublesome children, distracted parents, random animals and toys, and undercurrents of danger all inhabit her images. My guess is that, just like the work of photographer Gregory Crewdson, Blackmon painstakingly plans and composes her shots as carefully as any movie scene. Her shots range from the strangely humorous (a pool boasts an inflatable great white shark) to positively gothic (a child's head peers up into a dark, dingy attic with a doll's head resting on the floor). I've seen her art in person, and it had a palpable impact on me. As a fan of the disturbing (god knows how my daughter's going to turn out, raised in a house with such creepy art), Blackmon's imagery appealed much.

I chose this image, "Patio," because it sort of blends a mid-century modernist aesthetic with white trash neglect. One of Blackmon's themes tends to be the emotionally removed parent whilst the kids run amok. It reminds me of earlier parenthood; my ten year old doesn't require the supervision anymore.

Go to Julie Blackmon's site and see more of her work. She's good fun in a disturbing sort of way.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Spring into Seasonal Sleep

It'll look like a spring flower painted by Klimpt on your bed!
There's nothing more depressing than a boring bedroom. I mean, fine, maybe nothing all that exciting is going on in there for you, but that's no excuse to have a drab sleeping space. Because, after all, sleep is nice. No, it's more than nice: it's awesome (if you've had children, you already understand how wonderful a real night's sleep is).

So, make your sleeping space the most lovely and comfortable space possible. This means no TV (messes with relaxation), cutting back on the electronic devices (too disruptive), and having a supremely comfortable bed. Plus, the Toad suggests a changing of the coverlet to go with the seasons. Take, for instance, this beautiful Indian Kantha quilt. It's made of old Indian saris, sewn together to create a sea of loveliness for your slumber. The one pictured just happens to be a cheery, springlike gold and green, but Kantha quilts come in many shades of the rainbow. Just pick one and settle in for a restorative evening.

These Kantha quilts are at Rising Tide Fair Trade. At $285, they're not inexpensive, but one will last and dress your bed for years to come. Besides, you can always find decent sheets on sale.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Feeling Prickly

No porcupines were harmed in the making of this necklace.
I'm sure that, now that Valentine's Day is behind us, all of you have everything you could possibly desire. No? Not so? Need a pick me up to express your longing and dissatisfaction? How about this Double Porcupine necklace?

Yes, this necklace runs counter to the sparkly star I just gave away yesterday. This limited edition (I'll get to that part) necklace from K/ller Collection features both a real porcupine quill and a cast brass one, riding tandem on a patinaed chain. The whole piece is easy to wear, slightly punk, yet slightly disco. It'll go with just about anything that's not too ladylike (and I'm sure you're not in the mood for any of that nonsense, anyway). Here's the best part: there's only 50 of these necklaces, so you're virtually guaranteed to be the only one you know sporting it. The wonderful site Of A Kind features only limited edition pieces from independent designers. They're listed until they sell out, and then that's it. For arty, cutting edge gifts, Of A Kind is a fabulous source.

Find this prickly pendant (for $125) at Of A Kind.

Monday, February 6, 2012

The BEST Valentine's Day Giveaway, EVER, in the History of Find A Toad!

These kittens wish they could enter the giveaway, too.
Ok, this might be the only Valentine's Day Giveaway ever in the history of Find A Toad. But, it really is the best, because this gift is something you'll really want, I promise.

It's not droopy flowers or caloric candy. Nor is it impractical and binding lingerie or a bloating prix fixe meal. No, this giveaway is an item you'll wear year round, mostly because it's not Valentine's Day themed in the least. I'm talking about the beautiful Me & Ro necklace I featured just a couple posts back, you know: the one with the tiny star with the ruby twinkling in the center of it. It's awesome because you can dress it up or down, and it goes with virtually everything. Plus, Me & Ro is a killer premium brand, producing jewelry that lasts a lifetime.

The little star hangs from a delicate 18" chain, all in silver with a ruby in the middle. It retails online for about $140, but if you're the lucky winner, it's FREE. Just leave a comment regarding this post that includes your email (otherwise, I cannot reach you). Additionally, you can enter again by following the Toad on Twitter or Pinterest (see at right for links). A random drawing occurs on the 14th, and then the gift is shipped, hopefully to YOU.

This is what you could win!

Good luck, and a very Happy Valentine's Day to you!