Motorized Ice Cream Cone

I’m sure there are allot of practical uses for a device such as this but I’m treating this as a fun way for Catriona to eat my favorite food. A love of ice cream runs through out all my family and I am doing my best to introduce this trait to my daughter. Luckily she is full of wisdom beyond her years and only eats the smallest tastes of desert foods – she seems to prefer to eat seconds of tofu and corn. The Motorized Ice Cream Cone will add some fun to our weekly sampling of ice cream. Available in 4 different colours for $9.95US (each) from Hog Wild. Found via Pop Gadget.

Childrens Paper Chair

This is clever. The genius chair/easel provides a huge roll of paper for a kid to sit on while she draws and comes with a 5 year supply of paper. Imagine rolling out that roll when it is finished and seeing the growth of your child’s illustration and visualization skills over time!
“The Chair is made with drawing paper, as the paper is being “drawn upon”, the size of the front cylinder increases and thus follows the child’s growth!- age 2-7 Years. Clean paper is transferred from the back cylinder to the front simply by rolling the front cylinder backwards. The amount of paper is approx. 500 meters, which means that the paper can be changed twice a week for 5 years.”
No word of availability or price. Product Page. Found via Gizmodo.

Where Art Thou?

I haven’t written much here in the past few months as I struggle to maintain a difficult schedule of client work, projects, family life, and writing for other weblogs.
Since I am writing elsewhere I am trying a little experiment with an extra column to the right, on the homepage only, to track all my entries on those weblogs that I publish on my own. So far I don’t dig it much but I will give it some time to see if it’s worthwhile or not.
I have another project in the works which will likely influence greatly what I write here. For years I have wanted to publish a magazine in Chinese on topics related to the many facets of developing good user experiences online. Time has past and others have jumped into the fray with some excellent efforts but certainly there is room for another. Hopefully I will be able to announce that here soon and can get back to sharing all the great things I find online related to the topics here on this weblog.
In addition to this weblog I also publish the following:

  • Minzoo – Modern gear for babies and their dads
  • Pop Wuping – Modern stuff for a mobile lifestyle
  • Shao Kelake – Off-the-cuff commentary and destinations of interest
  • 35togo – snapshots of life in Taiwan and other parts of Asia

You can find some of my work here:

  • Quiet Please – I make interactive products, installations, and weird sound art
  • My Portfolio – design, research, photography, writing, and yes weblogs

Cow and Elephant Animal Lamps

I’ve been looking lately for something to replace the Christmas lights that we had up in my daughters room up until recently. Yes we put up Christmas lights in her room and a Christmas tree as well. She loved it. There are allot of options and I particularly like the style of these cow and elephant lamps. The more colorful and warm lights in the room the better as these according to my daughter keep away the cookie monster. The cookie monster is sometimes a benevolent guy or someone who wants to steal her friend Mr. Mouse. I like these but would feel far more comfortable if they weren’t made of paper. They are likely fine. $20.00US each from uncommon good.

Velour Animal Hat

One of the items of clothing that my daughter loves is hats and I’m glad as there are so many wonderful examples to choose from. I think they are a fun , practical, extension of personality that we lose as we get older in favor of the boring baseball cap. This hat with the penguin head on top is very well made in Sweden of velvety soft velour. The hat is large enough to fit children over 2 yrs and supposedly most adults. I’m pretty sure it won’t fit my big head, which is a shame because I am sure it would give my daughter a great thrill if I wore one with her. You can buy it for $20.00US at Zebra Hall.

Please Do Not Touch Baby T-shirt

When you have a young baby in a country without many western babies you are often met with adoration, photo opportunities, finger pointing, and lots of uninvited touching. I’m cool to it except when it goes on for hours at a time or if their is a SARS outbreak like their was when my daughter was born. It’s at these times I start to lose my friendly pooh bear demeanor and become more like Eeyore. Instead of letting it ruin my day perhaps this “please do not touch” baby t-shirt will help, except that few people understand English enough to pay attention. It’s a good attempt all the same. $20.00US from moss.

Lush Bubble Bars

We have always been pretty sensitive to introducing any new detergents or bath soap to our daughter. We found that Johnsons baby products were what worked best with little or no irritation to her skin. We didn’t see any need for upscale “organic” products. I love the smell of Johnson’s baby soap so much I tend to use it myself. But when it came time for bubbles in the bath we didn’t have much luck. Bubbles mostly came from me working furiously to stir up the soap, which was fun, but not really quite as fun as when we tried Lush bubble bars. Coming in a range of different “flavors” these bath additives create mountains of bubbles to the absolute joy of our daughter. She loves it. The flavors don’t always smell authentic and pink or yellow coloured water isn’t my thing, but so far no skin reactions and quite allot of fun. It’s a bit expensive for daily use. If you don’t have the luxury of a Lush shop you can buy it online for $6.30US per 3.5oz bar.

VIP 15 metal pedal bin

We bought a fancy plastic garbage can for diapers that self-seals before our daughter was born – it had the cool Japanese chic about it that seemed to force me to buy it. It was a good concept but unfortunately I could never figure out how to use it. I wish I had bought this four-gallon, hand-crafted pedal bin from Denmark instead. It looks almost too good to put diapers in. On sale at Design within Reach for $169.95US.

Hockey Night in Canada Red Infant Huggy

Just because your baby is only 6 months old doesn’t mean she/he won’t appreciate an afternoon of Hockey Night in Canada reruns on DVD. You have to start them early. Turn the air conditioner on high, wear some thick socks, scarf, and woolen hat and it will feel just like home. I should have combined this with the other bit of CBC couture but it deserved some love all on it’s own. $24.99CAN at the CBC shop.

CBC Baby Varsity Romper

I still get gifts from home with little bits of Canadian couture emblazened on the front – usually university, beer, and CBC logos. I think it’s my family’s way of reminding me to get the hell home and stop living the life of an expat. I do miss CBC radio and have yet to find a substitute in Asia. This Romper is available in sizes from 3 – 12 months for $15.99CAN at the CBC shop.

Boopop Table for your Toddler

We recently bought my daughter a small low rise play table that converts into a surface for playing with legos. It’s really been a great purchase as we get to have an accessible place to build all kinds of creations – usually that includes zanga blocks that she can knock down, water paints, legos, and well, just about all the activities we have tried where sitting at a table is good practice. The downside to the table and chair set we bought is that it is made from cheap and ugly plastic. Though we bought it in an upscale shop most items made and sold here tend to skimp on the design.
When I saw the Boopop table at moderntots I thought I saw a beautiful replacement – the table top is natural bamboo plywood embedded with clear polyester resin and the legs are brushed stainless steel. A good replacement until I saw the price. Moderntots are selling the Boopop for $1,995.00US. Not something to buy on a whim and perhaps only if you think it can find other uses after the children grow out of it. Though with this kind of an investment in a small table do you really want crayons and paint all over it?

Hiding while she sleeps

My daughter is going through a phase where she wants to hide when she goes to bed. She will grab her blanket or pillow and try to hide her head from whatever imaginary character is in the room (or just dad). She does this now when she first is put to bed and at anytime later. It seems cute and sometimes fun but it freaks me out.
I’m not overly protective nor I am really all that gentle with her. I rough house with her and even let get her bumps (despite the heart attacks it gives me). But I have this innate fear that somehow by putting her head under her blanket or pillow she will smother. I don’t know if I am being rational but my frequent checks on her while she is sleeping have increased since she started.
Every night I check on her by placing my hand on her tummy or back, feeling the rhythm of her breathing. It’s always a beautiful moment watching her sleep. Now I keep pulling the pillow and blankets of her head, with her sometimes fighting with me even when she is asleep.

Klong Plush Toy

For long drives or flights where I or Mom can’t give our daughter a hug or hold her, this plush toy might serve as a temporary substitute. “Klong also doubles as a pillow, scarf, or comfort blanket on long journeys.” Is there any way to resist buying more and more stuffed or plush toys? Our house is overflowing with them. Klong is available from the MoMA store for $58.00US.

Pee-pee teepee

Pretty brilliant. While I prefer to learn the fine art of catching and dodging these Pee-pee teepee’s would make an excellent gift.They help keep you and everything around you dry while changing your baby boy. For $13.00US you get a mini laundry bag which contains 5 Pee-pee teepee’s. Available at Moderntots.

Smoy PhotoCuff

Most of us carry a photo or 2 of our children wherever we go. For me that means a selection on my mobile phone and a large book of photos for longer trips. Why not wear your pride and carry your photos on a fashionable Smoy PhotoCuff? Brooklyn designer Spencer Moy has created a laser-cut vinyl “bracelet” that you can easily slip your favorite photos into. The SOHO 4 Photo Cuff holds 4 photos and is available in pink, mint, lavendar, cream, and blue. The cuffs cost $20.00US for the SOHO 4 and between $17 and $28.00US for the others. You can buy them on Spencer Moy’s site.

iPod Shuffle for kids

Though they have been available for quite some time their recent reduction in price makes the iPod shuffle all the more accessible. We bought 2 for our daughter as they are actually cheaper than buying a cd player here. One loops constantly while she is sleeping and the other we keep for her to dance and sing to her favourite music in the playroom/dining room. There really are few moments around our house where she isn’t listening or singing to music. I think its a great product when you want to constantly have a long playlist playing in the background but when it my daughter starts asking for particular songs it’s lack of a screen interface becomes a drag. $69.00US at the Apple store. We also bought the iPod USB Power Adapter.

Streamliner Car

One of the joys of being a dad is having a valid excuse for buying and playing with toys. Sometimes in our house it’s hard to realize just who is the biggest kid – me or my daughter. So when I see a toy of beauty like this I get excited and want to run out and buy it right away. These amazing little cars are made in Sweden of solid wood with a smooth, high-luster finish. Designed by Ulf Hanses. I can hear my daughter and I playing with it already. $35.00US at Sparkability.

Nanny Deprived Long Sleeve Tee

We are quite lucky to have a great day time nanny who has become our daughter’s second family. Having someone else look after your child while you work is as common as air but that doesn’t make it any less difficult. Dimples and Dandelions collection of long and short sleeved Tee’s help keep a smile on mom’s face while serving as great conversation starters when a grown-up approaches. The product descriptions are pretty funny too. 100% heavy weight cotton and embroidered with mesh interfacing on the inside of the shirt to insure comfort and stability. $38.00US at Dimples and Dandelions.

Alessibambino Table Set

Other than clothes, toys, and books I can’t think of other items we buy more frequently for Catriona than drinking cups or table sets (actually are there any other items to buy?). There is so much creative fun ideas being expressed through these simple objects that it’s hard to pass them by without purchasing. The Alessibambino Table Set is one of the more beautiful and fun sets I have seen and coming from Alessi it is of no surprise. The table set is composed of bowl, flat plate, drinking glass, knife, fork, spoon and 3 coasters. I’ll pass on the knife as it’s far too sharp for my daughter and her wild orchestra conducting motions when she hears a song she likes on our kitchen iPod. Available for the all too pricey £49.00 at Panik.

The Cut-N-Seal

This looks like a fun way to present the tired old sandwich that I like to eat and a fun way to include my daughter in our weekend sandwich making. The Cut-N-Seal from The Pampered Chef seals and crimps the filling of your choice between two layers of bread, pastry or other types of dough. Looks like a great way to make some small homemade panzerati or Catriona’s favourite cheese sandwich. $8.75US from The Pampered Chef.

Real Simple Website

I have for a long time been a fan of Real Simple, not so much for the content, but simply for the overall design of the magazine. The colors, typography, photographs, and their generous use of “white” really agree with my design sensibilities. It’s a very comfortable and warm publication.
I revisited their web site recently and while it certainly loses some of the design sensibility that attracted me to their print publication they embrace the medium well by providing content – lots of content. In fact I think they have put all of their print publication online. This is nothing ground breaking but they strike a nice balance – they aren’t a like all those other lifestyle portals who look for a million different ways to “monetize eyeballs” and thankfully they aren’t a weblog (or yet another web 2.0 app.).
So I would buy the print version simply for the experience of reading the content while I will visit web site again to be able to find the content.
It’s worth your time to visit – Real Simple.

Swirl Syndicate Intercontinental Tshirt

“This collection of tongue-in-cheek tees is meant to take the taboo out of the race topic and celebrate the beauty of having a rich mixed heritage.” I think this Tee is a wonderful fit for my daughter who was born in Taiwan, is Canadian, is being raised in Asia, and will likely see more of this world than I will ever hope to. The Swirl Syndicate shirts are a wonderful set of humorous Tees for our kids. $25.00US in a variety of sizes.

Photographs of “C”

I’m one of those who when it decided what the name of our daughter would be immediately went out and registered a domain name for her. Apparently it’s a popular trend these days. As we live abroad and are too far for any regular visits from the grandparents, I used her domain name to direct them to photos – a good tool to keep them involved in her life albeit in a pretty small way. I recently password protected her photo directory but would love to share with you some of the photos I have taken of her over the past couple of years. These can be found on 35togo, my photoblog. View the photos.

Stool 616 Stool

From Finnish architect Alvar Aalto comes this beautiful example of modern Scandinavian design. Beautiful chairs though likely highly impractical. I know it would stand in stark contrast to all the other products that occupy our play area. Stool 616 is made in birch or natural lacquered with a back birch veneer: natural or white, red or blue lacquered. I wonder how they would look after an attack of crayons? Priced from £302.00 at Skandium. Big kudos to Swissmiss today.

Olivia Backpack

The Olivia series of books have been pretty popular around our house until recently when they have been “put away for awhile”. I could certainly understand the phrase from one book “Olivia you wear me out” and I have said it many times substituting Olivia’s name for my daughter. The Olivia backpack is a great way to carry around all the essentials for the day and take the story with you. This 11” x 7” x 3” backpack features a beaded zipper pull, top carry handle and adjustable webbing straps. $30.00US at Little Packrats. Via Swissmiss.

Minnen Ratta aka Mr. Mouse

This may be one of the more unusual toys I bought my daughter. It bothers everyone except for her and I. She loves it and for awhile carried it everywhere. The best part? When you put it on it’s back it looks like the real thing in the dark, so not only does it entertain my daughter but it also provides some good entertainment for me. It’s soft, cuddly, and has a great tail. $2.99 at IKEA.