L.A. at Home

Design, Architecture, Gardens,
Southern California Living

Category: Gifts

Adopt-a-Chicken: Nonprofit seeks sponsors for feathered friends

Love the idea of raising chickens but don't have a yard? The Los Angeles nonprofit Taking the Reins has launched a clever fundraiser called Adopt-a-Chicken with you in mind. Sponsor a chicken such as Thumper, above, and you won't have to deal with her pecking, digging or fertilizing your backyard.

ReinsPick your chick and make a donation of at least $50 in its name, and you get an adoption certificate. Donate at least $100 and you also get a color portrait of your new feathered family member. 

Donations go toward Taking the Reins' programs that seek to empower adolescent girls, originally by teaching them to ride and care for horses. "Over the years the program has evolved," board member Jane Stenehjem said. "There is now a writing program, creative arts, equine science, and we have an organic garden on a 2.5-acre farm near the Los Angeles River."

Adopt-a-Chicken is meant to be a quirky fundraiser: What to get that friend who has everything? "You can say you adopted a chicken and donated money to a program that allows girls the opportunity to care for them," Stenehjem said.  

Nine chickens are available for adoption. Shadow Gal is sensitive, shy and mysterious. Roberta, below left, is a devoted mother and voracious eater of worms. Sayu is a social butterfly, and Soul, below right, is the showoff. Rockie also is known as the Big Bomber because of her big comb. Suzie can perform tricks, Fiona is curious, and Thumper, above, lays eggs "anywhere and everywhere." Laila is shy and often bullied by the others — something that has endeared her to the Taking the Reins girls, who named the chickens.

To participate in the Adopt-a-Chicken program, call (323) 906-1506.



Pet hens and chicks

Call the chicken sitter

The Chicken Tractor: a coop for the modernist chicken

— Lisa Boone

Photos: Some of the chickens available for adoption. Credit: Christofer Dierdorff

Skullastic school supplies for boys and ghouls

When it comes to school supplies, Transformers and sports tend to be the themes for the lads, Justin Bieber or something equally fluffy and cute for girls. It's a convention that drove advertising creative director Don Rich to distraction. "I thought, if I see one more soft-focus picture of a kitten on a notebook cover, I'll puke," he said.

Aiming to "put the cool back in school in our own creepy, offbeat, rock 'n' roll style," Rich said, he founded Skullastic on Halloween 2008. Riffing on pop culture iconography and goofy wordplay, the company produces the edgy academic products pictured above, from left: a Buffy the Vampire Stapler notebook, $7.98; the Planner of the Apes calendar, $14.98; "Elm Street" white glue, $4.98; and the Decomposition Journal, a take on the classic composition notebook, $9.98.

Made for kids, they have a cult following among adults. (Full disclosure: I bought a Planner of the Apes at the Abbot Kinney street festival last month in Venice.) 

SkullasticThe 50-page Jekyll and Hyde notebook, right, is split down the middle with pages held by spiral binding on either side. It's hand-assembled by Rich in his living room. 

The Jekyll and Hyde notebook sells for $9.98 online and in stores that include Fred Segal; Vroman's in Pasadena; and Co-Op 28, an indie design boutique in Los Feliz, where Rich will be hosting spooky events this weekend.

Rich also peddles his wares in a vintage yellow school bus -- a drive-up, rather than pop-up, store. At street fairs, he can be found appearing as a character known as Headmaster in a white coat and goggles, part of a similarly attired crew he calls the Lab Ratz.

"Skullastic was created to celebrate the outcasts," Rich said. "The freaks. The geeks. The ones who have spent their lives being laughed at, kicked around, picked on and picked last.

"My parents were schoolteachers. I'm not sure if I'm doing this to honor them ... or to get back at them."


Halloween costume swaps

Adrian Grenier's SHFT pop-up shop

Tablet computer for babies

-- David A. Keeps

Photos: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times



The Deal: Father's Day discounts at Barbeques Galore

Odeon_32_07 Following our recent roundup of unexpected gifts for Father's Day, we'd like to move on to, well,  stereotypes:

Barbeques Galore is offering up to 40% off selected grills and tool sets. The Grand Tech 4 Burner, regularly $749, is now $549. (The three-burner version is marked down to $399.)

The Odeon 32-inch Crossray Black, shown at right, regularly $1,499, is now $899 and comes with a free rotisserie. (The 26-inch version is marked down to $699.)

A sleekly modern X-Series grill, the first designed by Porsche, will be marked down to $4,888 from $5,999.

The grills are on sale while supplies last and come boxed. Assembly and delivery is available for $165, but you know Dad will want to put this together by himself.

Barbeques Galore has several locations, including in West L.A., Glendale and Studio City. 

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credit: Barbeques Galore

Father's Day gifts for the design-minded, tool-toting or retro-styled dad

This Father’s Day, what will Dad be wishing for? A winning lottery ticket? Thicker hair? Children who sleep in?

Why, what fun would that be?

Marketplace writer Lizzie Garrett Mettler set out to find some uncommon Father’s Day gifts, including a retro-style desk lamp, above, and a nostalgic boombox-shaped speaker for Dad's iPod, below. The L.A. at Home crew has augmented her picks with a few additional ideas.

PHOTOS: Father's Day gift ideas

Fathers-Day-boombox-LRMORE SHOPPING:

24 picks in patio chairs

Nine modern coat racks

Six riffs on the hammock

A dozen desks for the home office

Photos, from top: Schoolhouse Electric tabletop lamp. Credit: Schoolhouse Electric. TDK 2 Speaker Boombox. Credit: TDK.

Pottery Barn's Recipe Cocktail Shaker: $39 gift or party pleaser with a twist

Recipe Cocktail Shaker 1

The cocktail recipe shaker -- the 1950s glass vessel imprinted with directions on how to make drinks, plus cartoons and the occasional pink elephant -- is a staple of vintage barware, seemingly as common as a hangover on New Year's Day. The design above, the standout in Pottery Barn's Antique Bar product line, looks like a twist on the idea but actually has an older, more sophisticated Machine Age pedigree.

Img44lThe Pottery Barn Recipe Cocktail Shaker is based on a simple operating principle: To fix the perfect old fashioned or 14 other cocktails, a budding bartender need only turn the lid to dial in the drink of choice. The ingredients appear in windows on the side of the 33.5-ounce stainless steel shaker.

According to Mark Bigler, collector, dealer and the steward of the Cocktail Shakers website, the Pottery Barn product is based on a 1930s design by Napier, a silversmith company also known for its modern costume jewelry.

Bigler, who said his 700-shaker collection is one of the world's largest, declared the design an enduring classic.

"I do have some of the Napier originals and they sell for around $250 to $300 depending on condition," he said.

Though Bigler doesn't believe that this newly mass-produced version will become a future collectible, the 10.5-inch tall Pottery Barn Recipe Cocktail Shaker is nicely priced for a personal bar tool or a holiday hostess gift. It's $39 in stores and at last check offered with free shipping for online purchasers

-- David A. Keeps

Photo credits: Pottery Barn

An L.A. shopper's guide to last-minute gifts

If shipping deadlines have passed and online shopping isn't an option anymore, check out our home and garden gift guide. (Yes, the one we've been flogging for weeks.)

GIFT-topiary-dogsThe L.A. at Home crew hit more than a dozen local shopping districts. The result is a long list of gift picks and store suggestions to help those who want -- or need -- to shop by foot and not by fingertips.

Readers outside Southern California can give it a shot too: Call the store in question and ask: Can you (and FedEx) save me? 

Let the shopping begin: 99 gifts for home and garden


Kittypod Dome, sensible shelter for the modern cat


Sometimes, even the cat needs to downsize.

As manufacturers roll out ever-more-expensive beds and perches for pets, designer Elizabeth Paige Smith has smartly developed a budget-minded addition to her Kittypod line of feline beds and scratching accessories. The new Kittypod Dome ($49.99) just went up on Smith's website.

The cardboard shell comes with an interior scratch pad and little kitty-head-shaped ventilation holes in the back wall. The whole thing is very Frank Gehry meets Mr. Bigglesworth -- a sleek, futuristic seat of power from which the family cat can plot household domination.

Shopping for more presents? The Kittypod Dome is No. 44 in our gallery of 99 gift ideas for home and garden.

-- Craig Nakano

Photo credit: Kittypod

10 home and garden gifts for under $25

Cheap-gifts-LunchskinsStill looking for holiday presents and stocking stuffers that don't cost a fortune? Our home and garden gift guide is loaded with them. Here are 10 for under $25, starting with reusable LunchSkins sandwich and snack bags in vibrant designs that remind us of Marimekko. We saw these pieces ($8.99 to $9.99 each) at the Green Life in Santa Monica. You also can find dozens of sizes, patterns and colors ($7.85 to $10.95) on the LunchSkins website.

41-Holiday-Juicy-Leaf-Large-346-holiday-Dart-cocktail-pickFor the brown thumb, may we suggest an air-plant kit from the Juicy Leaf? The kit, above left, comes with glass container, rocks and an air plant, which requires no soil and only an occasional soak in water. Price: $24.95 apiece; order three and save $15. Other glass shapes are available at other prices.

Also on target: The Pierce cocktail picks, above right. They're from Toronto-based Imm Living, maker of clever porcelain accessories. We bought our set of four for $22 at Firefly in Venice. Keep reading for seven more inexpensive gift picks ...

Continue reading »

Small-scale paintings at small prices

Brooke 4

Brooke Fischer's wonderful graphic paintings of butterflies, bugs and dragonflies are small enough to fit not only under the tree but also in a stocking. For original art, the prices -- starting at $120 -- are manageable too.

You'll find Fischer's paintings at Henry Road, designer Paula Smail's pint-sized store in Studio City. Other fun holiday gifts that won't break the bank: handmade, hand-painted bone boxes from India ($50), "I'm as Big as ..." height charts that compare a child's growth against various animals, objects and famous people ($18) and -- Smail's current favorite -- "Encyclopedia of the Exquisite: An Anecdotal History of Elegant Delights," released last month from Knopf Doubleday ($27.95).

Look for more holiday shopping ideas in L.A. at Home's gift guide.

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credit: Henry Road


The best behaved dogs in town


They sit, they stay, they never bark. These cardboard canines are the creations of artist Marc Tetro. Punch out the body shapes from a single sheet of cardboard, follow simple instructions on fitting the pieces together, and voila — man's best cardboard friend.

The artist has designed a dozen variations, including boxer, beagle, basset hound and golden retriever. We picked up the pug and Boston terrier pictured here for $10.95 apiece at the South Pasadena shop Marz, (626) 799-4032. The store reports that it still has Yorkies, schnauzers and Westies in stock.

Tetro's e-store has the whole pack on sale, $10 a dog, with shipping starting at $6.95.

45-holiday-Packabowl If you're still shopping for a dog or dog fanatic, may we also suggest the Packabowl. The flexible food and water bowl can smush easily into luggage or be tossed into the back of the car. Given how dogs are on their way to supplanting babies as the ultimate objects of household obsession and paranoia, should we be surprised that the manufacturer touts materials that are "BPA and phthalate free"?

Packabowl is $18 plus $7.95 for shipping through manufacturer Polkadog Bakery. Angelenos will find it for $18.99 at Urban Pet.

You'll find more holiday shopping ideas in L.A. at Home's gift guide.

-- Craig Nakano

Upper photo credit: Bob Chamberlain / Los Angeles Times

Lower photo credit: Polkadog Bakery


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