Tuesday, November 25, 2008

I'll take two, please

The Jupiter Bucket, offered at Plastica:
Molded from colored hot glue.
Vase bottom is made of scrap pieces that have been melted down and dyed black.
Water tight. Wipes clean with water. Looks like glass, feels like rubber!
May be used as a planter, a fancy wastebasket, or a decorative container.
Each piece is hand crafted.
9" tall by 7" diameter
Made in New York City.
I think the thing that takes it from "pretty" to "cute" is that it feels like rubber.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Artiste de mignon: Made with Love by Hannah

I'm a big fan of Made with Love by Hannah, whose impeccable eye for cute is reflected in her hand-screen-printed clothing (available through her website and her etsy shop), her blog, her house, her miscellaneous projects (like a five-foot-tall papier-mâché replica of her favorite knickknack, Pooky, or the "custom glitter Skee-Ball alley with tufted red vinyl sides and super-jumbo gold ric-rac trim" she just happens to mention in a blog post)—it seems like pretty much everything she touches turns to cute.

The only thing preventing me from buying any of these adorable skirts is that I rarely wear skirts at all these days, as working from home + frequent playing on floor with toddler = jeans.

Well, we're all in luck, because she now makes an apron in her Polish pottery pattern, trimmed with giant red ric rac. At just $28, it's perfectly priced for someone to give me for Christmas, wouldn't you say?

I have to stop myself from just posting photos of every one of the items in her store (did I mention there's a subset of crocheted items called Made by Grandma?) and from linking to all of her blog posts. Go check them out for yourself, and prepare to have your mind blown!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Middle-of-the-road cute

I love etsy and design blogs as much as the next girl, but deep down, I'm a mall shopper at heart. I get overwhelmed by all the exquisite prettiness and hardcore craftiness out there, so for comfort I turn to places where you have to dig to find the cute: big-box stores and junky malls. It must be the thrill of the hunt that calms my mind.

Needless to say, then, I am happy to start looking for some mainstream gift ideas for the grandparents to consider for my daughter. Melissa and Doug toys perfectly fit the bill: You can find them at your local Toys R Us, but they're not as depressing as the plentiful licensed-character stuff you'll find on the shelves next to them.

I can't quite articulate why this Melissa and Doug Deluxe Plus Prance-N-Play Stick Unicorn appeals to me. It's not particularly ironic, it doesn't bring up any memories or longings from my own childhood, and I don't even know if my daughter—who so far has exhibited no signs of having the princess and fairies gene—would like it. I just want one.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Model home

I can't think of much to say about this place except, "Wow."

I don't even remember how I came across this. A link from a link from a blog, no doubt.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Catalog curator: Catching up

I used to have a good system to keep catalogs from piling up: glance through what comes in, keep a few in a special spot in the living room, recycle the rest immediately, and weed the saved ones when the container gets too full. It still would be a good system, had I not started the catalog curator feature; now instead of tossing most catalogs after they arrive, I have to put them all into a holding spot on top of my printer, where they wait for me to post about the cute treasures inside each one.

Well, we did a lot of cleaning out and tossing this weekend, so in the interest of not losing momentum, I'm going to make a pass through the stack, pick out one cute or otherwise noteworthy item, and call it a day.

Garnet Hill: If I were of a mind to buy $70 boots for my 2-year-old daughter, these Merrell Spirit Tibet Snow Boots would be the ones.

Boden USA: I think it's safe to say I've been buying slightly different versions of the same boot for about seven years now. I haven't bought anything at all for a few years, though—and probably shouldn't, since last year I don't think I wore so-called "fashion boots" even once. If I were in the market, though, I love these Leather Fur Lined Boots ($268). It's hard to choose a color, but since this is all theoretical anyway, let's say I'd solve that dilemma by buying all three.
Anthropologie: Lots of turned-down page corners here. I have one go-to black wool jersey dress, but I'm not sure how well it fits post-baby (can I still say "post-baby" when said "baby" is almost 2.5 years old?). The Well-Forged Dress ($188) would be a great replacement.

Tracy Porter: Not my sort of thing—there's a definite Veronica's Closet vibe here—but speaking of go-to classic black items, I love the London Boot ($325), which looks to be a near replica (but in real patent leather, and with a much-needed side zip) of a pair of $80 Franco Sartos I wore until they fell apart.

Land of Nod: Needless to say, it would require in-person inspection, but I predict the bookcase ($449) from the new Oak Park Elementary Collection could be great outside a kid's room, too.

: Mosaic Recycled Placemats ($6.95 each) are shredded and compressed juice boxes: 100% recycled, and 100% great at disguising dried bits of spilled food.

Garnet Hill (#2): I guess I'm in a mood for blue and white (and red), but I can imagine the Fuji Percale Bedding would be a perfect masculine-feminine compromise for a couple's bedroom.

Free People: I'm sure I'm too old for it, but I still have deep respect and great admiration for the Parker Plaid Overcoat ($198).

Sensational Beginnings: Okay, I know they're not cute, but Your Body Puzzles ($24.95 each) for boys and girls are just so strange they deserve a mention.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Coming in from the Kallt

The topic sentence of my post was supposed to be something about children's play dishes, but I got sidetracked from my "research" on the Ikea website by their new winter Kallt series. The red, white, and blue paper, ribbons, and table decor are really speaking to me, and that means that now I must find some other larger purchase (perhaps a lamp or tray for our new hand-me-down buffet?) to justify the 30-minute drive and inevitable 3-hour visit to the Bolingbrook store.
Getting back to my original subject, maybe I can do some early Xmas shopping, starting with these adorable tea/coffee and bowl/plate play dish sets (both in the Duktig series, $9.99 per set):
My daughter isn't into dolls—at least not yet—but she plays almost every day with the white porcelain Ikea tea set she got for her 2nd birthday (thanks, J&M&J!). I can't find a link to the exact set online, but in any case, it's become a permanent fixture on our porch, so naturally I had to buy this Busig tray ($5.99) to tie it all together and, more importantly, to transport the entire set to the kitchen for daily washing, since I haven't found a way to stop Sophie from drinking the days-old water that would otherwise be in there.
Wouldn't these Oändlig ($1.99 for 50) papker napkins add the perfect touch to the tea party?If only the Ikea kitchen experts could help me design a child-sized set of cupboards to tidily store all our play dishes, pans, and utensils! I suppose that will have to be my Xmas wish.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Catalog curator: Tea Collection, Chasing Fireflies

Taking on Tea Collection almost feels like cheating; I wouldn't turn down a single item in here. But suppose I won a $150 gift certificate and had only 24 hours to redeem it? I guess I'd probably have to choose the Molfrid Floral Dress ($65) and the Fjord Swing Coat ($89). (I love the purple boots shown above, but they aren't for sale here—and my $150 is spoken for, anyway.)

Somehow Chasing Fireflies manages to be both precious and bitchy (case in point: a $4,800 Pumpkin Carriage Crib), but there are some undeniably cute things offered here. Take the Musical Chairs Dress, for instance: Originally $225, it's now on sale for "just" $99.

A $150 gift certificate wouldn't go all that far in the toy section, either, but I'd consider putting it toward all or part of the Twig Crayons Set ($28), Mini Color-My-World Playhouse ($38), Cozy Cube Desk ($198), or Lounge Hound ($148).

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Superior storage

I was delighted to run across this set of Euro Play Cases/Nested Country Cottages ($36 for two) at Oliebollen (where practically everything for sale is cute). Not only are they adorable, but I already own a set—or at least some that are very similar—and it's always nice to meet up with old friends online. Mine came as a gift (thanks, S&D!) via the Land of Nod a couple years ago, after I had put them on my baby registry. Just like an iPod, though, two years go by and the new version comes out with improved features and more memory: These nesting houses now have velcro doors on the side and hold 16GB of trains and vintage Fisher Price Little People. (via Cool Mom Picks)

Friday, September 26, 2008

Kingdom, phylum, class, order

Where does exquisite letterpress fall in the taxonomy of cute? I've long felt the need to come up with a workable classification system for the vast world of cute, if only to get things straight in my own mind. But why do it myself, when I can cut and paste from Wikipedia—a graphic that explains the hierarchy of biological classification, plus a surprising definition of cuteness—and end up with something that looks almost scientific:
Cuteness is a kind of attractiveness commonly associated with youth and appearance, as well as a scientific concept and analytical model in ethology, first introduced by Konrad Lorenz. It is usually characterized by (though not limited to) some combination of infant-like physical traits, especially small body size with a disproportionately large head, large eyes, a small nose, dimples, and round and softer body features. Infantile personality traits, such as playfulness, fragility, helplessness, curiosity, innocence, affectionate behavior and a need to be nurtured are also generally considered cute.

Konrad Lorenz argued in 1949 that infantile features triggered nurturing responses in adults and that this was an evolutionary adaptation which helped ensure that adults cared for their children, ultimately securing the survival of the species.

I promise to work out a real system of my own very soon. But, whatever their ultimate classification, the letterpress cards made by Product Superior definitely fall somewhere in the kingdom cute:

The company's online shop is breathtaking, but apparently not open for business yet; for now, buy cards and paper goods through their Etsy shop. (via Design Sponge)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Catalog curator: Rockler, Rejuvenation

When I said I page through every catalog, I mean every catalog. There's always something cute, even in Rockler Woodworking and Hardware. Take, for instance, this Hand-Operated Mini-Flocker ($5.99). Not only is the applicator/canister appealing in a found-in-the-basement-at-an-estate-sale sort of way, but think of the many and varied cute uses you could put this toward. Why, you could flock the inside of all your holiday gift boxes, or fancify random wooden containers you own so they are soft and pretty on the inside!
For bigger projects, upgrade to the Air-Assisted Flocking Gun ($59.99)—not quite as cute in its design, but it "propels fibers at a perfect velocity for optimum adhesion on vertical surfaces, corner, and other tricky areas," which is likely worth the tradeoff.

If we ever have the funds to redo our bathroom, Rejuvenation's porcelain fixtures, hardware, and switchplates will be at the top of my list. The Streamline Porcelain lighting collection offers seven styles in black, white, and (my favorite) green; the Chandler Porcelain Bath Hardware covers basics like soap dish, hooks, toilet paper holder, and this adorable cup and holder; and coordinating Porecelain Switchplates add the final touch.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hot for fall: crying food

I'm the first to admit you can't just slap tears on any old cartoon images of food and expect it to be cute. But it works most of the time. I bought There's No Crying In Breakfast on a baby onesie for a friend last year, but it was out of stock in most other sizes. Happily, now it's back! Too bad most sizes only come in royal blue. I thought only free promotional T-shirts were royal blue.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Catalog curator: Crate and Barrel, Eddie Bauer

I’ve got a weakness for plaid, and Crate and Barrel’s Nomad Storage Cube ($299) is speaking to me, even though I can’t certify it as 100% cute. Maybe in the right context? For a few more options (and great deals), skip the grown-up stuff in C&B’s print catalog and go straight to the website. I can vouch for the adorability of the Gus Glasses—now just $0.95 apiece—as earlier this year I bought a set of 12 in the highball size after I got fed up with our dwindling set of mismatched vintage glasses. They even feel cute in the hand:

From the Outlet, I like these Appetizer Plates ($1.50 each), which could also serve as trays to corral keys and cell phone or small desktop items:
And I’m sure the Lacey Felt Placemat ($2.95) could be used in any number of creative ways (I just can’t think of any right now):

Not on sale but cute all the same are the Etch Sheet Sets; I’d buy just the pillowcases ($24.95 for a standard set) and use with plain white sheets:

Next up: Eddie Bauer. Usually, gray, wet days beg for fun prints and cute, cheery accessories (see my post about the Cupcake Land boots I got for my daughter), but EB wisely keeps its rain gear understated, so you can use it even when you don't feel like standing out from the crowd. The dog print on the Mini Travel Umbrella ($16.50) is suitable for most any man, woman, or child:

and I like it in the black/red combo on the Tall Rubber Rain Boots ($49.50), too:
But if you’re like me, you really only need heavy-duty boots when the basement floods. For everyday wear, I have to go with EB’s pièce de résistance, these low Rubber Rain Boots ($39.50) that somehow manage to conjure old-fashioned galoshes and old-school sneakers: