Thursday, October 30, 2014

Watch Out: Autumnal Pumpkin Pillows Post Sitting Hazard

Ask a guest you hate to have a seat.
We are officially in Fall! I would be totally excited, except for the fact that it's still about 80 degrees here in L.A., all my boots are still in storage, and I can't wear a sweater without it becoming a sauna situation.

Plus, even in this heat, we must tolerate the Fall Decor. Perhaps nothing sums it up better than McSweeney's classic essay, "It's Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers," but I shall try to add to the Fall decor dissing peanut gallery. After all, it's pretty easy pickings: just check out these pumpkin pillows from Gump's.

First off, they are, indeed, autumnal in color. Such rich reds, yellows, ochres, and greens. They are also that very practical fabric, velvet (actually, cats don't like velvet and won't claw it, so I suppose it really is a practical fabric, even though, in this case, I wouldn't mind my cat batting one of these monsters across the room). And, the crowning glory are the real pumpkin stems growing from these jewel toned puffs. Yes, they have been scavenged from real pumpkins and reattached, Re-Animator style, to the pillows (in honor of Halloween, perhaps). Don't they look like real pumpkins? No?

I'll tell you what these puppies really are: a sitting hazard. Imagine innocently wandering into the living room and unceremoniously flopping onto the couch. But, instead of landing on the couch itself, you plummet onto one of these pillows, realistic stem up. Ouch. Actually, worse than ouch. More like, a trip to the emergency room, looking just like an autumnal baboon. Try explaining that away to the doctor on call. Just try.




Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring into Spring with A Wacamole Planter

That's one funny planter.
I'm not sure we really had a winter here in Los Angeles, but now spring is definitely here. I've already started planting my food stuffs, like a Thai chili pepper plant, dill, and chives (I plan on making a lot of smelly food).

Yep, it's planting season here, and I'm sure the rest of the country wants spring to have sprung as well. To just add to the fertile cheer, treat your favorite green thumb to a planter from the Spanish company, Wacamole. I mean, come on: how cute is it? Those little dangly legs, the fun and funky plant options on top, make these planters simply too much fun. Some rest, like this one, on a ledge or counter, some hang, some are splayed in a front split, and some have festive paint jobs. All are hand crafted and unique.

Naturally, these are not at bargain basement prices. Wacamole planters start at around $50 a pop. But just think of the springtime giggles they'll evoke, At Wacamole.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The End of Dieting, My Ass: A Review of The End of Dieting by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Want these? Well, unless they contain black beans and chia seeds, you're not getting them!
Even though The Toad tries to be a savvy exerciser and informed healthy citizen, she occasionally indulges in a little self help. Seeing the title The End of Dieting, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and feeling a bit bloated, she thought it might be worth a read. Perhaps it would have new information, some helpful, reasonable eating tips, or a consumption philosophy that would allow for copious amounts of healthy chocolate on a regular basis. An amphibian can dream.

Well, a fool is soon parted with her $12.99. I discovered that The End of Dieting is not, in fact, the end of dieting, it's simply the beginning of an insanely restrictive diet that's supposed to last the rest of your miserable life.

Dr. Fuhrman's diet plan isn't just an actual diet, it's an actual diet based on some fairly extreme vegan concepts. Fuhrman is against dairy, meat, almost all fats and oils of any kind, sugar, wheat, most grains, and anything else you might be tempted to stick in your hungry, gaping maw. What does that leave you with? Well, a whole bunch of salads and some cooked veggies, some tofu, some tempeh, and a stockpot full of tears. I've rarely seen a diet as restrictive as Fuhrman's, and I'm just guessing that it's designed for people who are at death's door in terms of their nutritive health; who need someone as sure and bossy as Fuhrman to tell them just what they can eat so they won't drop dead.

Fuhrman has lots of science to back him up regarding the traditional food pyramid and American diet. There's no question that American diets are less than ideal, and lead to a host of avoidable health problems. But I do wonder: is it necessary to move so far in the opposite direction?

Fuhrman has virtually nothing good to say about any other culture's diet, either. Take the Mediterranean diet, for example. He spends time criticizing it because the current state of Mediterranean people's health isn't all that good, because they've americanized their diets. So, fine, I guess Italians have been hitting the Big Macs recently. But that has no bearing on the actual elements of the Mediterranean diet, which has, when followed, led to legions of healthy old Greeks and Italians (all that beautiful smooth taut skin involves a bunch of healthy fat in the diet). Fuhrman side steps this, and simply throws all that good olive oil out the window like the contents of an old chamberpot.

The most puzzling thing of all about The End of Dieting isn't just that it's super restrictive; that's been going on for forever. It's that Dr. Fuhrman, when it comes to cuisine, appears to be stuck in the '70s. You remember "health food" in the '70s, don't you (although I'm probably dating myself here as an old dinosaur). Healthy food had to be bland food, often in unappetizing forms, such as bean loaves and carob, nuts masquerading as meat (other cultures do this alchemy far better than ours) and tofu as a substitute for everything (soy, as it turns out, isn't necessarily very good for a body, but I guess Dr. Fuhrman never got that memo about that science. There's some scientific cherry picking going on here).

The real standout of The End of Dieting is the Recipes section, which seems like an odd thing to include in an anti-diet book (then again, the tome includes sample meal plans, which seems awfully diet like to me). The recipes mostly amount to a buttload of beans; perhaps the book's alternate title could be The End of Socializing. Beans even make an appearance in the dessert section: Fudgey Black Bean Brownies (with an avocado topping, no less. It contains no chocolate whatsoever). My husband Mr. Crab calls this recipe "the culinary equivalent of a suicide note," explaining that, "all you need to do is make a batch, set them on the counter, and do the deed. Your friends and family will understand."

Dr. Fuhrman's final point comes in his patronizing Epilogue, in which he states that "... The nay-sayers are typically food addicts fighting to maintain their addictions with the "myth of moderation." Really? While I do not deny that there are many people out there who could benefit, health wise, from less meat, less fast food, less fat, and less sugar, I hardly think that anyone who nay-says Fuhrman's book is a food addict. Perhaps they just, you know,
like food beyond beans, kale, and chia seeds. That could be it. Then again, I read this book right after a trip to In-N-Out Burger, so what do I know?

It was delicious.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Thoughts on the Demise of DailyCandy

It's all gone, gone, gone.
Frankly, I hadn't thought much about DailyCandy, the daily "in the know" online subscription service, in an age. It hasn't seemed relevant in a while.. That's probably why it's now gone, a victim of no longer being the first in the know, competing with endless other sites for inside information. It simply got lost in the shuffle.

When I first saw DailyCandy, I was in love. Its short, pithy little entries about everything from products to restaurants to hair salons was totally new and fresh. In fact, I wanted to write for DailyCandy, quite desperately. I wrote them, and obviously never heard back. Still, that rejection pushed me forward into creating Find A Toad, sort of my own little version. I've written about pretty much anything and everything I've wanted, baring of course the deeply personal. I guess I owe DailyCandy for that.

There now seem to be a thousand versions of exclusive tidbit sites, ranging from the fairly cynical Dead Cool (which is completely uncool and seems a slave to publicity mavens), to the countless discount sites, which make you wonder exactly who pays top dollar for anything anymore. Is everything at a discount? And, if everything is at a discount, doesn't that mean that the discount is the new full price? Just wondering.

So, that's my little obituary for the end of a taste making, trend spotting, and ultimately visionary site, done in by, I suppose, doing its job so well that it paved the way for too many imitators. Rest in peace, DailyCandy.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Say The Words, Wear The Words

God knows what these are saying, but I'm sure it's charming.
As you well know, jewelry is a big favorite as a Valentine's Day gift. Tiffany & Co certainly knows that, since my email and feeds have been inundated with advertising for expensive baubles.

While diamonds are nice, they're impersonal. Why not immortalize your own words with a David Bizer audio file necklace or keyring? The concept is pretty brilliant: create an audio file of what you'd like to say to your love (something short, please, now is not the time to recite Jabberwocky). Then, use the jewelry maker's site to send the audio file. He'll create a plywood or acrylic representation of your file, either as a necklace or a keychain. It's so much less obvious that a necklace that sports "I Love You." I can see the necklace also strung on a wall as an art piece, too. Inside jokes, pet names, unique endearments, all work beautifully. You can even get dirty and no one will know.

If you want one, better order it pronto at bza.biz. Prices are in pounds, but seem to cap out at around $80 or so.

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.