Friday, January 31, 2014

Fuzzy Wuzzy Valentine

Lie down beside the fire, Baby.

Now that I've gotten all my crabby out regarding Valentine's Day (see previous post), the Toad is ready to give some solid romantic suggestions.

Everyone has fantasies about that romantic evening, lying in front of the fire, some fine wine in hand, smooching it up. But if you don't have a landing pad for your achy bones, that lying by the fire might require a medic alert to help you get up. Plus, you might notice some less than lovely little details, like dust bunnies the size of buffaloes, rolling your way. The solution? Buy your lady or man a sheepskin rug for a little floor lounging comfort. Sheepskin rugs are soft, silky, non-shedding and machine washable. They also look great either on the floor (for your lurid purposes) or laid across the foot of a bed, Scandinavian style. This is really a practical gift for the household.

A word of warning: your pets will go crazy for sheepskins. Cats will sleep on it in submersed circles; dogs will roll on their backs, scratching an itch, making unsavory noises. Did I mention these are machine washable? At Sheepskin Town, starting at just $59.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Opining on Valentine's Day

As a gift and product blogger, I realize that The Toad has a responsibility to come up with a bevy of gifts for Valentine's Day. Then why do I have such mixed feelings about it?

For those of you who've never considered the holiday's origins, Valentine's Day stems from the ordeal of St. Valentine, a Roman era Christian who tried to convince the Roman Emperor to convert to Christianity. He lost, and died in the process, but not before apparently curing the Emperor's daughter of some sort of fatal illness. St. Valentine literally lost his head for, I suppose, his love of his faith. How this translates into giving your partner a big box of candy eludes me.

There's all sorts of pressure surrounding Valentine's Day, especially for men. The aforementioned candy, expensive bouquets of flowers, trashy lingerie, all seems to be required. Not to mention the requisite love note, probably soon to become love e-note. And then there's the dinner plans. Never mind the fact that Valentine's Day is possibly the worst night of the year, besides New Year's Eve, for going out for a meal. All those back to back reservations and prix fixe menus virtually guarantees any restaurant kitchen will end up in the weeds. Once, I actually walked home from a prix fixe Valentine's Day meal because we'd been there for hours with very little results. Romantic!

The Toad recommends dinner, for certain, but probably of the pizza or take out type (maybe ethnic). Save the excellent meal for the following weekend, when the restaurants are back to normal and you can order at your leisure (now, that's romantic).

Other thoughts: live plants, not flowers that are going to die. A gorgeous orchid or succulent planting is far more satisfying than watching roses croak. On the lingerie front, how about some underwear she might actually want to wear? Visit any Hanky Panky site for ideas, from thongs to boy shorts to cami tops.

As this holiday is labeled a "Hallmark" one, a card is a must. But please, look for something not so generic. And write something in it besides your name. It doesn't have to be poetry, it just has to be either funny or heartfelt. Preferably both.

So yeah, Valentine's Day is weird, and I have mixed feelings, but I guess it's still a requirement. Stay tuned for individual V-Day gift ideas coming soon.

Monday, January 13, 2014

De-Clutter Now, You Lazy Slobs

This person will never need a GPS to find his keys.
Just when you thought it was safe to come out from the under the dried up christmas tree (the relatives are gone, I promise), you're getting all kinds of flack for not having your house in order. You know: it's de-clutter time in January, so that you can start off the year right and organized, instead of lonely and intoxicated on the couch.

Most of this de-cluttering trend includes lots of elbow grease in terms of cleaning, and plenty of time spent rummaging through closets and trying to decide what to toss (and where to toss it). It's exhausting just contemplating it.

That's why the Toad recommends starting with the entryway, the place in your home where everything piles up. Because you can't afford a butler, and if you have a coat closet it's probably stuffed full of crap (that you haven't gotten around to tossing), you need a landing pad. This ash and brass valet from Cincinnati brand Dixon offers one stylish solution, with hooks for hanging coats and a small shelf for phones and keys. It's clean and modern, yet warm and welcoming. And it keeps your entryway from looking like the aftermath of an NYC sample sale.

The Intersect Valet sells for $148; there are also individual hooks available for $29 each. At Dixon Branded.