Japanese product design is the best.

I went to Daiso (the Japanese $1.50 store) today for the first time in a long time.  I went in with a couple of specific things I wanted to buy, and walked out with all that and more.  I love how the Japanese have invented something for every little common problem we face, from butter that won't spread easily to ramen noodles that won't cool fast enough.  We westerners have come to accept certain inconveniences in our everyday lives, but the Japanese say, there must be a better way!

The two things I really needed were 1) driving gloves, because I realize my hands are aging horridly and they get way more sun exposure than most other parts of my body, and 2) tiny containers.  I had tried to find tiny tupperware at Target the other day, to no avail.  You don't really realize how much you need tiny tupperware until you actually buy it.  All those little half-handfuls of nuts you can't finish, or three bites of rice you didn't want to throw away, or berries, or few spoonfuls of sauces you put a lot of work into and can't bring yourself to throw away, can finally find a home until they are ready to be consumed again.  
My most immediate problem is the one of taking salad in to work.  Because what are you going to do, lug an entire bottle of salad dressing every day?  Leave a bottle in the work refrigerator (only to have it thrown out mercilessly by your office manager at the end of the week, even if you weren't done with it)?  I actually don't like to buy pre-mixed salad dressing, but prefer to mix my own white wine vinegar with olive oil and salt/pepper to make a simple vinaigrette, but trying to do this for lunch at work would mean taking in TWO GLASS BOTTLES plus whatever herbs I'm using.  Or, I could mix a small amount at home, only to carry it in a tupperware container which inevitably leaks and leeches olive oil all over my lunch bag.  This has been a conundrum for months.
Enter: the dressing bottle from Daiso, a set of three small (like the size of hotel shampoo bottles), very flexible/squeezable little containers with screw-on caps that form enough of a seal to prevent oil-and-vinegar leakage.  They are the perfect size for the tiny amounts of salad dressing I use for one lunchtime serving.  I am so excited to try this out next week.  I heart Japanese product designers.
Other fun (and, I think, ingenious) inventions, like the butter stick (seriously, I hate how hard it is to spread cold butter on toast!):
Ramen fan that hooks onto your chopsticks to cool down noodles as you eat them:
Full-body umbrella for the kind of rain you sometimes get, that comes in every direction and gets your pant legs wet:
And of course, the "boyfriend pillow," to cure those lonely nights:

Need a bathroom clock: Modern clocks under $25

I'm taking the oodles of time I don't have and putting some finishing touches on the tiny mouse-hole (as my mom calls it) studio apartment I've lived in for 4 months.  One things I realized I needed was a bathroom clock, for two reasons: 

  • I need to keep track of the time when I'm taking a shower or a No. 2.
  • I have too much framed art as it is, and wanted to introduce a more sculptural element into the bathroom's decor.

A few other conditions I wanted to meet as I embarked on my search for the perfect clock:
  • It does not make sense for me to spend more than $25 on a clock at this stage in life.
  • Much of my decor is already a bit flowery, so I wanted something sleek and anti-froufy.
  • There isn't a ton of color in the bathroom so I wanted a spot of color, but this is not a necessity.
  • I would prefer something with numbers, just because it's easier.
The sad thing is, there are really a limited number of places one can look for cheap clocks.  Happily though, I found enough of a selection that I think one of these will work.  Question to you: which one should I buy?

Side noteIf you have a lot more $$ to spend on a clock, you might want to check out the super cool modern designs at Diamantini & Domeniconi.

Wtf are these things I saw at Target?

No, seriously, what are they?  We already established that some pretty comical things can be found at Target.  But I saw these on the seasonal shelf and had to snap a picture because they are so bizarre.

I can only assume they are Valentine's Day related decorative crap, but like - are they plants?  Lollipops?  They come in small pots, look sort of like rosebushes covered in fake gummy heart-shaped candy.  The weirdest part was the clear-ish frost covering the hearts that made them look like something you find out in the deep-sea ocean.  What will they think of next?

Graduating from my old kaboodle.

I've had this plastic pink-and-blue kaboodle for many many years.  I believe my childhood friend Renee gave it to me some 15 years ago.  Amazing how some things stick around you in life.  At any rate, I had been thinking for some time that I've outgrown it, that it was a bit childish for someone who's almost (but not quite!) 30.  

So off and on I've been looking for a replacement to hold my various little bottles and compacts of makeup that I don't wear, of little grooming tools and colors and adornments.  I was kind of resigned to a life of faintly 'ethnic' looking rattan/bamboo/reed bins and boxes like the kind they sell at Target and Cost Plus.  That is, until I wandered into Ross the other day.

Ross, you say?  Yes, most of the time it is chock-full of dingy, poor quality crap.  But every once in a while, it surprises you with a gem.  And this day, I found my gem in this good-sized miniature set of apothecary drawers.  Or maybe they look more like a library card catalog.  At any rate I loved it instantly and knew it had to be mine, whatever the cost (which was not that much).
6 of the drawers are wooden with dainty metal handles and 3 of the drawers are some kind of antiqued base metal.  I just love how square it is, and how it seems to fit almost everything perfectly, and how I can separate all my things with such exacting precision.  I even got a little drawer denizen, the ceramic white elephant riding on top, to keep it company (also from Ross).  

I've also included a picture of the old plastic kaboodle which will soon be making its way to the local Goodwill.

Affordable Luxury, Pt. 2: Everyone with a tiny kitchen ought to have a kitchen rack.

I have wanted a kitchen rack for a long long time.  I don't know why I considered it to be so prohibitive.  I guess I never had the motivation to get one until I moved into this tiny mouse-hole apartment with its tinier mouse-hole kitchen.  You don't know how depressed it makes me to have such a tiny kitchen, with all the cooking I do (and all the appliances that need storage space!).

Enter: the IKEA kitchen rack.  I got this baby for a mere $15 at my local IKEA, plus $2.99 per pack of 5 hooks (I got two packs).  And, it was pretty easy to install.  I needed exactly 4 screws plus 4 plastic wall anchors.  Oh, and a drill.  We drilled four holes, hammered in the anchors, and then screwed the rack to the wall.  The whole process took 10-15 minutes.

I can now enjoy my cookery-as-wall-art, I have this stuff out of the way, and I don't even have to store my cookware in the oven like I was doing before this went up.  I even hang some of my cooking utensils!

Dilemmas: Should I buy this dining table, or should I make a kickass "found door" dining table?

I need to answer this question by tomorrow to take advantage of their no-sales-tax sale.  So if you have an opinion, lemme know!

Today I saw a dining table at Therapy SF that I fell in love with.  It also happened to be a great deal.  "Make no mistake," I told Garry.  "That table is a great deal."  It was a solid wood square slab with rounded corners and a metalwork base kind of like the Eames Eiffel chair.  It was $150 down from $300, and with no sales tax.  Even at IKEA, a piece-of-crap dining table set costs $100 or more.  And a single Eames Eiffel chair from DWRcosts $250!  So I consider this a very good buy.
The only thing is, I don't know if I can fit it in my new apartment.  It's not big, but my apt is v. v. small.

Then, I was poking around archived posts at Design Sponge and saw this totally awesome DIY project that actually looks kind of easy: an old door + pretty paper or paint + table legs = beautiful large dining table.  It has a totally different feel to it, but I think the idea is absolutely brilliant -- check out the full DIY document.  What to do!?