Reviews, stuff daddy likes

Dora’s Back: And Gets Even Realer

March 20, 2013 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS

You might remember a video I posted a while back — a trailer for a hilarious (but disappointingly fake) live-action Dora the Explorer movie. Well, it’s one step closer to fake reality, as College Humor has posted part 1 of the 3-part saga, Dora The Explorer and The Destiny Medallion!

While it lacks some of the first-time funny punch of last year’s Infinity Orb, it’s great seeing Dora, Boots and (swoon) Diego back in acción. And I can only hope Horatio Sanz will return as the annoying and abused The Map. (BTW, have you seen him lately? ¡Aye chihuahua!)

ALERTA: this installment is a tiny bit NSFW. And certainly NSFT (not suitable for toddlers).




Giveaway: Printcopia Canvas Prints!



One of the perks of being a blogger for any length of time is getting nifty stuff to review. Even better is when it’s something that you genuinely end up liking. Such is the case with the canvas print from Printcopia I was asked to create and review for a very cool giveaway that YOU need to enter! (details below)

Not surprisingly, I’m pretty picky extremely anal about what goes on the walls of my house or office. No “off-the-rack” posters, prints or artwork in this Designer Daddy’s personal gallery. Yet that’s not to say I only buy expensive artwork. My main requirement is that it has a story — a painting by my favorite local artist, a framed poster from a trip to Prague, or a charcoal sketch I did in college — it’s gotta be personal, otherwise it’s just decoration.

However we don’t have many photos on the wall. We’ve got plenty scattered throughout the house on bookshelves and dressers; but even more odd, we don’t have more than a couple of photos of our son on the wall… or anywhere. I’ve posted a bazillion on Facebook, Instagram and my blog, and I’ve got a folder in iPhoto for every month since he was born. But since becoming parents, getting photos actually printed, picking out a frame, etc. just takes time we ain’t got.

This is what excited me about Printcopia. It was a way to put up a photo of JJ along with the artwork on the wall and have it fit in — not just in size, but in quality.

I’ve had one photo print made before through another company, and while the quality was good, it only came in one size/shape — square. Printcopia can do square plus a bevy of other sizes ranging from 8″ x 8″ to 30″ x 40.” And not just canvas prints, but also sleek acrylic prints, framed prints, panoramics, decorative wall decals, and yes, even old school photo prints. Images for all of these can be uploaded from Facebook, Instagram, or your desktop/photo library.

But my favorite feature was being able to choose any color I wanted for the edges of the canvas. As a designer, having the ability to customize the details is vital (I’m a dork like that). For my print, I chose a favorite from our trip to Italy. Our living room (where the print now lives) has a warm, bright color palette, so being able to sample the orange in JJ’s shirt and make that the border color was pretty dang awesome.

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I’ve partnered with several other parent bloggers so we could get a bigger booty.
The winner will receive THREE canvas prints:
one 8″ x 10″
one 11″ x 14″
one 16″ x 20″

Keep in mind Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are coming up. Enter this contest (and win)… Shopping for your spouse, parents or in-laws? Done. And WAY better than smelly soap or a tie.



Original photo



Printcopia canvas print, in our living room. The only thing I Photoshopped out were the crayon marks on the wall. (Canvas is 16″ x 20″)

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The giveaway runs for two weeks (ends 11:59pm April 2nd), and the winner will be contacted within 7 days. If you have any questions, email Oren (AKA A Blogger and a Father) headed up this contest and will be responsible for prize fulfillment. Contest is open to US residents, 18 and older.

(PS: Printcopia has several sister sites that sell car magnets, banners, and bandit signs.)

Valentine’s Day Super Quickie Giveaway!

February 13, 2013 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS

It’s Valentine’s Day, and who doesn’t love a quickie? I guess because I’ve become so world famous, a company called BellaVita contacted me to see if I wanted to try out their new leather iPhone 4 Wallet, write up a review and give another away. Sweet, huh?

Like most other iPhone owners, mine is pretty much an extension of me. I do it all with my precious iPhone — eat, sleep, use the, um, facilities (When else am I gonna catch up on my Words With Friends games?) And I’ve had a custom case for mine for quite a while — why would I want/need another?

Well, for one, mine’s getting pretty beat up. I’ve had it for a couple of years, so it’s getting scratched and the colors are fading. Plus it’s a bitch to get off of my phone — all kinds of weird dirt and other gross stuff gets down in there, so I need to clean it once in a while. Plus the screen is always exposed, and is definitely starting to show signs of wear, little scratches, etc.


Click to see larger, if you're man enough.

This nifty, gen-u-ine leather iPhone Wallet helps with a lot of those issues. It fully encloses my phone, so it doesn’t get scratched or smudged or stuff spilled on it. And in case you were wondering, yes I can still feel it vibrate or hear it ring just fine even with the cover closed. It’s also helpful to keep closed if I’m using my phone as an alarm at night, but don’t want to woken up when I get some random alert and my screen lights up. Additionally, while it holds the phone nice and snug, it’s also easier to remove for cleaning than my hard plastic case.

The most unique feature is that whole wallet part. I’ll be honest — I can’t fit all my crap into the room allotted for wallet “stuff.” Perhaps I need to carry less crap (very likely). But how I found the wallet feature useful was for when I want to carry a scaled down version of my crap. Whether it’s to the gym, walking the dog, to the movies, or to a party or club where I don’t want to carry a coat — I like to be able to just grab my driver’s license, a couple of credit cards and some cash. Normally I’d just fold it over and leave it loose in my pocket; or if I’m going to the gym I’ll put a rubber band around it (I know, I’m classy like that). But this iPhone Wallet thing has been a great solution for those situations. It holds it all together in one place, I don’t have to bring my humongous wallet, and it doesn’t look as tacky and homemade as a rubber band! 🙂


Fiery Red Wristlet, you are SO sassy!

The product I tried is the iPhone 4 Wallet ($55, Amazon) in espresso brown (I guess they’re trying to market to dudes). The one I’m giving away is the Fiery Red Wristlet. While that sound waaay girly, I actually prefer the red color (shocker), and may get one myself and just not use the strap. But I’ll let the winner make that decision with theirs. Speaking of winners…

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1. Read the review (which you’ve probably already done, so you’re almost done!)

2. Enter by leaving a comment (here, on Facebook or on Twitter) telling me your favorite iPhone app.

3. Share this post (via Facebook, Twitter or anything really) for additional chances to win.

4. If you aren’t yet a fan or follower, Like the Designer Daddy page on Facebook or Follow me on Twitter for yet MORE chance to win. Am I making it easy, or what?

5. Cross your fingers!

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Contest closes at midnight (EST) on Valentine’s Day, February 14, 2013. Winner will be notified (and announced) the following day.

Check out all of BellaVita’s products by visiting their web site or Facebook page.

Just in time for the Grammys*… DD’s Top 10 Albums of 2012

February 7, 2013 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS

Whoever decided End of Year lists had to be done by the end of the year are just poop-head literalists who clearly don’t have anything better to do than tell us how cool they are.

Now that I have that out of the way… This is my sixth year** posting a Top 10 Albums list (Top 40 Songs to follow…eventually), but the first time on Designer Daddy. In case you’re asking, “How is this dad-related?” – as far as I know, it’s not. But I’m the dad of this blog, and that’s why. I’m also the style maven (Is there a male counterpart to maven? Master? Manven?) and arbiter of all that is hip — in my house at least — so it fits quite nicely in my wheelhouse, thankyouverymuch.

Please enjoy and be sure and let me know YOUR favorites of 2012 in the comments!

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10. Hot Chip – In Our Heads

Hot Chip has a great knack for crafting songs that are both danceable and heartfelt. As with their last album (One Life Stand), In Our Heads thumps and simmers with lots of energy and emotion, both blissful and deep.
Choice tracks:
Night and Day, Motion Sickness, How Do You Do?


Win a pair of SOL REPUBLIC headphones! (Ends Jan. 21)

January 7, 2013 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS

…We interrupt our regularly scheduled cute toddler pics for a Designer Daddy giveaway…

If you’re looking for the best way to drown out the din of daddyhood (or life in general), enter to win a set of SOL REPUBLIC headphones, valued from $99.99 to $179.99! Sign up below and you could be tuning out Dora, Elmo and The Fresh Beat Band in no time.

Designer daddy that I am, I wouldn’t hook you up with some drab-looking earbuds. These are completely customizable (mix + match colors) and come with interchangeable pieces, a remote and a microphone. You can also choose from several designs featuring college sports teams.

My faves, though, are these hot-looking, exclusive deadmau5 headphones. YUM.

To enter, “log in” using the widget below with your email or Facebook. You’ll then see a list — scroll down and click “Easy entry for all DesignerDaddy fans on Facebook.” You can also Tweet or post about the giveaway here, or “Like” any/all of the dad blogs represented for even more entries!

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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The giveaway ends January 21 at midnight, and the winner will be contacted within 7 days. If you have any questions, email Oren (AKA A Blogger and a Father) headed up this contest and will be responsible for prize fulfillment.

(P.S. I partnered with a few other bloggers for this, all members of a new Facebook group of blogging dads (started by that Oren guy I just mentioned). You can read about the group here, or if you’re a fellow dad blogger, head over to Facebook and click JOIN GROUP.)

DooDad of the Day: Portrait of a Superhero

December 28, 2012 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS, THINGS MY KID DIGS

Okay, so this is the best Christmas present of the year, hands down. My wonderful, long-suffering husband has often complained that I’m impossible to buy for. I wouldn’t say I’m impossible to buy for, but I can be kinda picky. And as a collector of many things, I tend to buy said things for myself a lot. So I understand where he’s coming from.

However, this year Papa genuinely surprised me with this hilarious Superman-ish portrait of me and the kiddo. And JJ was just as excited as me to see us in costume (and recognized us immediately). I admit I teared up a little bit — at both the image and at JJ’s shared enthusiasm. And damn, I’m looking fit!

Want to purchase your own customized portrait? You can get them from There’s quite a large selection, including a bunch of other superheros and even some licensed Marvel Comics characters (Spidey, Hulk, Thor, Cap). However, I think I prefer our Superman knock-off getup, as it adds to the cute/cheesy factor.

Good job, Papa! You’re my hero!

A (not so) Brief Note

December 10, 2012 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED, THINGS DAD DIGS

We’re currently trudging towards the epic milestone of bowel autonomy. JJ had one rapturous success, got derailed (understandably so) by our trip to Italy, and has yet to regain his commode momentum. We’ve employed several potty training tools, which so far have produced squat in the way of results. But I thought I’d share them with you since I think they’re fun. And who knows — hopefully they’ll work for someone else in the same, um… poodicament*.


DC Super Friends in POTTY TIME POWER!

This book is all kinds of awesome — each page features a different DC superhero explaining some aspect of potty training (Superman blows away a giant stack of diapers! Plastic Man shows how much toilet paper is the right amount! Flash warns to give yourself enough time to get to the can!) Many of the pages have flaps for your child to reveal more fun and action, and there are 2 full pages of stickers! The book is nice and thick and well-laminated to avoid any bathroom mishaps or accidental drops in the tub/sink/commode. ($8.99 on Amazon)

And oh yeah, my man Aquaman gives a lesson (kind of) on the importance of washing up afterwards!

So far the book hasn’t “worked,” but its repeated use has helped JJ’s spelling. And the fact that it’s chock full o’ heroes makes it a wee bit more bearable for me to read over and over and over.

DooDad of the Day: Number Tree Growth Chart

October 19, 2012 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS

I haven’t done a DooDad in awhile — there’s such an onslaught of cool/cute stuff out there, I sometimes don’t know what to focus on — although I have started throwing some stuff up on Pinterest. But this one comes from someone I actually know, so wanted to give it a special shout out.

Growing Tree growth chart & detail

Designing a growth chart for JJ has been on my (much too ambitious) to-do list, and he’ll probably be 6 feet tall before I get around to it — so I might just have to buy one of these awesome charts from Mixt Studio, owned by Californian designer/mom Marcie Carson. We met a few years ago in Louisville, KY where we were judging a design competition. She was also blogging at the time and hers was one that inspired me to start Designer Daddy, so I’ve kept up with her ever since.

I really dig these because they’re smartly designed and fun, but not over-the-top kiddie-looking. Plus it’s nice to see a kid’s product that’s not tied into a TV show, movie, or — dare I say it — superhero. Marcie gave me a little extra info on the growth charts… and a deal on FREE SHIPPING!

Do they come with any stickers or ways to mark a child’s height?
They are made of canvas, so you can write directly on them with a pen. A Sharpie is best, but even a ballpoint will do.

What inspired the designs?
Most of my inspiration comes from my two children… what they (and their friends) like to play with. I also pay close attention to decorating trends in children’s rooms. All of our designs are playful without being too cutesy.

Do you have any new products coming up soon?
We just added several new growth chart designs, including some cool new themes like 70s beach, retro skateboard, and Guatemalan stripes. Please offer a FREE SHIPPING CODE to your readers: “GoodKarma”

Check out all the styles… and take some time to poke around all the other cool products while you’re there. And be sure and tell Marcie I sent ya.

Beatles 101

September 2, 2012 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS

So the big trip across the pond is upon us. I admit to having my fair share of nerves leading up to this point, but I suppose by the time you read this I’ll be cruising through the skies, my bambino wistfully slumbering against my shoulder. At least he better be.

A massive amount of preparation has been going on — which I guess is to be expected from two anal-retentive gay dads taking their toddler transatlantically. So a couple of weeks ago we were Skyping with Papa’s Zia Jo (AKA The Cool Aunt) to ask all our most pressing questions: “Do they have playgrounds in Italy?” “What about fish sticks?” “And Dora?” During the conversaton we noticed a lot of Beatles stuff in Zia’s house — she’s a huge fan from back in the day. As in the day when they were still together and taking over the world. That must have been something to behold.

Hence I decided to make JJ a mix CD, a Beatles primer of sorts. Before you read ahead to the track list and blow a gasket, yes there are a few covers by non-Beatles. Keep in mind this is for an almost 3 year old — he needs some variety. Besides, as the son-of-a-preacher man, I had to discover The Beatles on my own. This initially came in the form of The Chipmunks Sing the Beatles Hits (on vinyl, checked out from the library, no less). So I learned my first Beatles songs from some rodents, a few more from the “Stars on 45 Medley,” and then finally discovered the real deal in high school and have been a huge fan ever since.

The Beatles 101

(All songs by The Beatles unless noted otherwise)
Drive My Car
(from Rubber Soul)
She Loves You
When we were teaching JJ animal sounds, Papa taught him that beetles went “She loves you, yeah! yeah! yeah!” You should have seen his eyes the first time he heard the actual song. Now when he hears it, he yells “BEETLES!”
All My Loving – Alvin & The Chipmunks
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (from The Beatles/White Album)
Funnest Beatles song ever? Gets my vote. Although it’s probably about drugs or somesuch.
We Can Work It Out
Rocky Raccoon (from The Beatles/White Album)
I didn’t realize until I finalized the list how oddly well-represented The White Album was. Whodathunk?

You Won’t See Me – Anne Murray
Piggies (from The Beatles/White Album)
Hello, Goodbye (from Magical Mystery Tour)
Love Me Do – Alvin & The Chipmunks
Help! – Carpenters
Leave it to The Carpenters to take a sad song and make it sadder…
I’m Looking Through You – The Wallflowers
Taken from a quite good soundtrack of a semi-okay movie, I Am Sam
Here Comes The Sun (from Abbey Road)
Stars On 45 Medley – Stars On 45
I spent many a Saturday roller skating to this baby.
Silly Love Songs – Glee Cast
Take It Away – Paul McCartney
Two Of Us (from Let It Be… Naked)
I love how this version starts with the lovely guitar intro instead of John?/Ringo? yammering about pygmies.
All You Need Is Love – (from Magical Mystery Tour)
Yesterday (from Help!)
I remember learning “Yesterday” and “Help!” in 6th grade music class. Do they still do that?
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey – Paul McCartney
If I Fell (from A Hard Day’s Night)
One of my all-time favorites
Blackbird – Glee Cast
I challenge all you Glee-haters to listen to this version and not marvel at the sweetness of Chris Colfer’s voice.
Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy) – John Lennon
This song is already on a JJ-inspired mix CD, but it’s too good not to include on every single CD I ever make for him. He heard it tonight and said, “It’s my song!”
Yellow Submarine (from Revolver)
We’ve been singing this one in the tub since forever ago. Also a great singalong-in-the-car song.

For more Beatles-related kids stuff, check out:

Rockabye Baby
This mix isn’t the first JJ’s hearing of The Beatles. I started him off early, buying both volumes of Rockabye Baby Beatles covers. But we’ve been way beyond lullabies for a while now.

Yellow Submarine interactive book

Wonder Pets episode, “Save the Beetles”
Adorable, clever, educational. The whole package!
Download from Amazon or iTunes.

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Alright music fans — what essential tune did I leave out? Keep in mind it’s for kids, so no Helter Skelter craziness or Elanor Rigby moroseness. What would you take off? I’m sure there will be a Volume 2 at some point, so all suggestions are welcome!

Gold Medal Gabba

August 13, 2012 | By Brent Almond | THINGS DAD DIGS

Are you already having Olympics withdrawal? Wishing Cut Copy would release some new music? Wondering what funky-ass clubs Stefan has been frequenting this summer? Completely befuddled as to when (if ever) there will be new episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba!?

If you answered “yes” to more than one of these questions, you are my new SUPER BEST FRIEND!

As our first SUPER BEST FRIEND activity together, let’s watch a brand new Yo Gabba Gabba! called “Olympics!” It features musical guest Cut Copy and SNL’s Bill Hader doing “The Rainbow Drop” with the Dancey-Dance bunch. I imagine there’s going to be some Olympics-related weirdness as well.

It airs Sunday, August 19th at 8:30pm on Nick Jr. See you there!

Cut Copy On Yo Gabba Gabba! from stereogum on Vimeo.

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