I spotted Indexed, another blog-turned-book success story, in the Chronicle Books store the other day. Indexed represents two great ideas: first, it’s a novel use for index cards (other than, say, Getting Things Done with a Hipster PDA or other office applications), and it’s also an inspired concept for a blog. ThisIsIndexed.com is one of those brilliant ideas, like the Million Dollar Homepage — simple, clever, and enviably unique (which translates into lucrative).
Every weekday, author Jessica Hagy — copywriter, doodler, and philosophical statistician — publishes a diagram or an equation that succinctly captures an insight into modern life. The index card doodles range from the trivial to the thought-provoking, most often amusing and challenging in terms of how fast you can "get it." Hagy covers topics as diverse as shelter-versus-purebred canines, drifter cuisine, the boggling math of emotion, and undergoing water torture (both voluntary and involuntary). Hagy includes larger, more complex figures in the 5×7 section.
Kindred spirit Hugh MacLeod, author of gapingvoid, also admires Indexed. Chronicle Books published a couple of companion products, the Indexed book of postcards — (because, go figure, index cards are the perfect size for postcards!) — as well as the Indexed notebook.
Posted August 13, 2009 by Mariva in arts, blog-turned-book, books, business, entertainment, fun, gifts, humor, innovations, media
It’s hard to imagine a better — or funnier — gift for the parents-to-be who already have everything than Safe Baby Handling Tips by David and Kelly Sopp.
This novelty picture book is basically a series of contrasting dos and don’ts with regard to taking care of an infant. For example, the correct way to "bond with baby" is to hold and coo at the baby, not attempt to engage him or her in a timed game of chess! And when you’re putting the baby down to play, put him or her in, say, a playpen, not a cage. When taking baby for a walk, put him or her in a baby backpack, not in an old potato sack.
I mean, sheesh, people — take care of the baby! Get this book.
Posted March 23, 2006 by Mariva in books, education, entertaining, entertainment, fun, gifts, home
So many paper crafts, so little time. If you’re cutting paper (or even cloth!), you can — safely — get clean, straight lines with a Fiskars rotary paper trimmer (available with a 12-inch or a 24-inch cutting board), which is surprisingly affordable for quality home office/crafting equipment.
Perhaps the best part is the available assortment of rotary blades, including blades for scoring paper (for easy bending without cutting), perforation (for easy ripping along predetermined lines) and decorative edges (pinking, scallop, wave, tiara, Victorian, deckle, squiggle).
Posted March 16, 2006 by Mariva in arts, crafts, fun, gifts, innovations, resources
Sometimes the perfect thing to say has already been said by someone else. Lunch Mail has encapsulated this concept in an attractive product designed to uplift and inspire. Each Lunch Mail pack contains a set of thirty colorful business-card-size "surprise" messages. (Think fortune cookies or Cracker Jack prizes without the calories.) Created by the National Education Association, Lunch Mail was conceived as a special treat to include with children’s lunches, but I’ve seen them used for various grownup purposes, such as ice-breakers for cocktail parties, classes and business networking mixers.
Another creative company that showcases pearls of wisdom is quotable, which produces notecards, magnets, journals and other stationery products that feature memorable quotes. Especially notable by quotable (ha!) is the Truth Be Told card pack, which contains "48 calling cards to give to your friends or enemies." Personally, I could imagine handing someone "nice to meet you" or "you rock" more than, say, "enough already" or "you need a mint" — but that’s just me.
As they say, though, words are cheap, so if you’re feeling crafty, you can create your own cards and gifts from the sayings of various wordsmiths. One of my favorite inspirational quotes, featured in the movie Rushmore, is:
When one man, for whatever reason, has the opportunity to lead an extraordinary life, he has no right to keep it to himself.
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Posted March 15, 2006 by Mariva in arts, books, crafts, education, fun, gifts, innovations, social
In the spacious but homey split-level basement of Cody’s Books, I always find myself drawn to the tables displaying the Cavallini & Co. stationery products. I can’t seem to keep my eyes off the passel of varicolored notebooks, notecards, carte postale (postcards), flashcards and magnets and accessories, among other products.
Many of the designs embody a neo-Victorian aesthetic, reminiscent of decoupage and Beatrix Potter books, whereas the frames have a distinctly Italianate flavor. Whole maps feature prominently in Cavallini’s collection of gift wrap, making the paper itself a gift. (With Cavallini map gift wrap, I don’t use tape and I advise the recipient to open the package carefully without tearing the paper.) The file folders are works of art, almost too beautiful to kept in a drawer.
Posted March 9, 2006 by Mariva in arts, books, decor, gifts, home
Oh, man. With all due respect to Crash, Reese Witherspoon and, um, Three 6 Mafia — Brokeback Mountain, Felicity Huffman and Dolly Parton were robbed. Oh, Oscar, I wish I knew how to quit you.
Also overlooked — by critics and the Academy alike — was Memoirs of a Geisha. While visually stunning in its cinematic narrative, Geisha may have made the critics happier if the screenplay had been bookended by (warning: spoilers — you may highlight the following white text if you’ve already seen the movie) scenes of New York City as the novel had been. I believe this would have made the story more cohesive and satisfying — especially to those who hadn’t read the book. But heck, what do I know.
The movie may not have inspired critics, but it did inspire Geisha fashion, renewed popularity of the Maiko Barbie Doll, and — from Fresh, makers of my new favorite scent — the "Memoirs of a Geisha" beauty collection.
Posted March 6, 2006 by Mariva in arts, beauty, books, fashion, gifts, movies, music
If you like to bathe in luxury, try Pacifica soaps. Before buying, you can wander through a virtual garden of high-quality scents with names like Sandalwood, Tahitian Gardenia, Tunisian Jasmine, French Lilac, Bergamot Amber Rose, Vanilla Orchid, Bali Lime Papaya, Hawaiian Ruby Guava, Thai Lemongrass and so on.
The soaps are nature-friendly (biodegradable, vegan, not tested on animals, no artificial colors), and the scents are strong but smell authentic — it’s hard to detect a chemical base that’s typical for some scented soaps. Each beautifully boxed 6-ounce bar is priced at or close to $7 — which might seem extravagant until you realize that with scented products of this caliber, you get what you pay for.
Posted March 2, 2006 by Mariva in bath & spa, beauty, gifts, home
San Francisco-based premier chocolatier CocoaBella offers gift boxes comprising the most delectable chocolate, bar none (so to speak). I should know; I was fortunate enough to sample a dark chocolate truffle with black currant ganache — and couldn’t believe how good it was. (Warning: CocoaBella is pricey, but the chocolate, which is encased in beautiful gift packaging, is worth it.)
Posted March 1, 2006 by Mariva in edibles, gifts
The Solutions catalog offers all sorts of, well, solutions — or, as the company puts it, “products that make life easier.” Lest you think that Solutions products are akin to Kenji Kawakami’s 101, 99 More and The Big Bento Box of Unuseless Japanese Inventions: The Art of Chindogu, check out this sampling of potentially useful items:
If you need help with home improvement or getting organized, Solutions also provides a handy list of free clever tips.
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Posted February 22, 2006 by Mariva in decor, entertaining, gadgets, gifts, home, innovations, kitchen, resources, travel