Top 10 Wackiest Catalog Items

December 17, 2008

People often turn to catalogs for sensible things. Mail-order steaks, baby clothes, camping gear. But nestled among the hiking boots and office supplies are some pretty wacky things. Here are our choices for the top 10 wackiest catalog items:


10. Knitted food ensemble

Do you prefer your food steamed, sauteed or knitted? Palumba serves vittles made from hand-spun and natural dyed wool from Peru.

9. Faith Book T-shirt

No, the shirt doesn’t have a lisp. It’s a Christian tee with a sense of humor from


8. Wedding countdown clock

Feel the anticipation (or dread) as the big day approaches with Online Wedding Store’s wedding countdown clock. It doesn’t say if it makes an exploding sound or anything as it ticks down to zero.


7. Holiday Collar Ruff

Just look at the puss on this cat. He just oozes embarrassment. But he jingles! You can get this festive cat collar from Doctors Foster and Smith.

6. Marshmallow shooter

I just don’t understand the rise in popularity of marshmallow shooters. Were zoo polar bears crying out for a better way to send them snacks? Anyway, Hammacher Schlemmer has one along with a marshmallow shooting bow and arrow set.

5. Wax lips

Who needs collagen when you can pop on a pair of old-fashioned wax lips from Candy Warehouse. This is how Grandma did it before Dr. 90210.


4. Steele loved

I know what you’re thinking: Boy, I miss that Remington Steele. Where can I relive those 1980s sleuthing memories? Bear Manor Media knows and offers Steele Loved After All These Years: A Remington Steele Retrospective, by Judith A. Moose. Over 750 (!) pages of everything you’ve ever wanted to know about the NBC series.

3. Granny panties

Big, giant granny panties. The kind that all those TV makeover shows tell you not to wear. These drawers sold by The Vermont Country Store are so billowy they’re called Bubble-Duds!


2. Dreidel pinata

Oy, caramba! It’s the ultimate multi-culti party favor. A dreidel pinata from

1. Smencils

They’re pencils! That smell! They’re Smencils! Made from recycled newspaper, Smencils, sold by, come in 10 colors and flavors (don’t eat ‘em!) like peppermint, grape and bubble gum.

Top 10 Most Regifted Gifts

December 17, 2008

Did you know there’s a Web site devoted to the art of regifting? is a veritable treasure-trove of regifting rules and ideas. The mission of the superslick site, from Money Management International, is to make regifting less shameful. And in these humbuggy financial times, more people than ever are passing things along and around. So in the spirit of cheap-o gift giving, here are our top 10 most regifted items:

gift bags10. Booze

The ultimate last-minute hostess gift — an unopened bottle of whatever from your liquor cabinet! Just make sure it truly is unopened and isn’t something that can go bad, like a cream liqueur or a corked bottle of wine. And please, clean off the dust and put it in a nice gift bag.

9. Gift cards

Perfectly acceptable and even a hot commodity on eBay, gift cards are fine to regift if you’re not a fan of the store but know someone who is. Just make sure the gift card hasn’t expired or the store hasn’t gone out of business.

fruitcake8. Fruitcake

Sure, make fun of the citron-studded brick, but some people actually like them. Especially if they’re made by monks, like the ones from Assumption Abbey.

7. Candles

Candles are fine to regift if you don’t like the scent or the shape. A bad idea (and a dead giveaway) if the wick is burned.

6. Cookbooks

Not a fan of Peruvian vegetarian cuisine? Regift away. Make it more special by using wooden spoons as a decorative bow accent.

5. Jewelry

Hey, you can always say that you found the perfect piece at an estate sale, when actually the estate sale was the bottom of your jewelry box. Just get yourself some good jewelry cleaner and you’re good to go.

picture frames4. Picture frame

Hey, Mrs. Newlywed, did you get way too many lovely silver picture frames for your wedding? Here’s an idea: Find a picture of your best bud, put it in one of those frames and voila! An instant personal regift.

3. Gift basket

This can either be a great regift or a horrible mistake. Before you slap a bow on an unloved gift basket, make sure the food hasn’t expired or the hand lotion hasn’t gone funky or you’ll have some ‘splainin’ to do.

2. Housewares

Coffee grinders, blenders, wine openers — all can become great regifts with just a simple addition. Add a pound of coffee with the grinder, a drink mix with the blender and a bottle of wine (‘natch!) with the wine opener.

holiday sweater1. Clothing

According to many surveys, clothing is the No. 1 most regifted item. Probably most often the oh-so-cutesy holiday sweater, like this one from NorthStyle.

Top 5 Funny Messy Activities with Kids

March 1, 2008

Have you ever had one of those days, when the kids are driving you – and each other – completely crazy? Every smart parent should know some funny messy activities they can do with their kids to combat boredom. The following 5 funny messy activities will make you “cool mom” or “cool dad” in your kids’ eyes.

1.    Build an exploding volcano


Dirt or playdough
35 mm film canister
White vinegar
Red and yellow food coloring
Baking soda
Liquid dishwashing soap


This is one of the best funny messy activities with kids – emphasize on the messy. It’s a great activity to do outside in order to keep clean-up easy.

First, build a volcano by either mounding up dirt into a mountain shape, or forming a mountain out of playdough. If you want to make it lifelike, you can stick in some twigs and leaves to look like trees on the mountainside.

Press the film canister into the peak of your volcano.

Put two heaping spoonfuls of baking soda into the film canister, followed by a spoonful of liquid dishwashing soap. Add a few drops of red and yellow food coloring.

Next, pour in 1/8 cup white vinegar – and then stand back and watch your volcano erupt!

2.    Paint your face with homemade face paint


Light corn syrup
Food coloring – the liquid kind


First, mix 3 tablespoons cornstarch and 1 tablespoon flour in a small bowl.

Next, stir in ¾ cup light corn syrup and ¼ cup water until the mixture is smooth.

Divide the mixture into small containers like baby food jars. Add different colors of food coloring, leaving one plain for white face paint.

Use small child-size paintbrushes to decorate each other’s faces.

3.    Make homemade finger paint and paint your masterpiece


Liquid dishwashing soap
Food coloring


First, put 1/3 cup cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of sugar into a small saucepan. Stir in 2 cups of cold water.

Heat the mixture over low heat for five minutes, constantly stirring. You should have a gel-like mixture.

After the mixture cools, add ¼ cup liquid dishwashing soap and mix thoroughly.

Divide into empty baby food jars and add food coloring until you get the colors you want.

Paint away!

4.    Make Flubber

Flubber is a polymer resulting from a chemical reaction. Visit the above link for complete instructions and information on why Flubber reacts the way it does.

5.    Diet Coke and Mentos experiment


Diet Coke


You’ll definitely want to do this one outside! All you need to do is drop a few Mentos into a 2-liter bottle of Diet Coke, and watch the fun. You can see a video of the original experiment at YouTube.

These funny messy activities are perfect for keeping the dreaded “I’m bored” out of your kids’ vocabulary.