A graphic walk up the aisle
I’m a big fan of alternative comic book creator/illustrator Adrian Tomine, whose stories of angsty youth drawn in his clean style have been his calling card. The former Northern Californian moved to Brooklyn to be closer to the woman he eventually married, and their journey to legal "couplehood" can now be found in little-book form in "Scenes from an Impending Marriage" (Drawn & Quarterly, $9.95).
Tomine originally drew most of the strips as wedding reception favors, and they have a looser feel than his previous work. Even if you’re not familiar with Tomine, you’re likely to relate to his wedding-planning travails, such as finalizing a guest list, finding the right reception venue, and picking the right music (no "old rock ‘n’ roll!").
Measuring about 4-by-5 inches, this is a little joy of a book. — Gary Chun
Adhesive place mats ease tots’ meals
When eating out at a restaurant or picnicking at a park with a toddler in tow, these self-stick disposable place mats from Neat Solutions and others make mealtime much less stressful. After positioning the 17-by-12-inch sheets, you have an instant sterile surface that hides the disgusting picnic table beneath. In restaurants, prevent plate-tossing by a frustrated 2-year-old by spreading the finger food directly on the colorful place mat. When you’re done, peel it off the table and the mess disappears. The fun designs also keep kids occupied while waiting for the food to arrive. They make mealtime so easy, I wish I could justify using them at home. The place mats are sold in packs of 18 to 20 for $9 to $12 at Baby Emporium, Babies R Us and other baby specialty stores. — Donica Kaneshiro
Ume cha (plum tea) hits the spot
Sometimes, I just want something warm to drink at night without caffeine, especially here in Maryland when winter temperatures can drop into the teens. Ume cha is my perfect cup of tea. Whenever in Hawaii, I always make sure to stock up at Marukai ($2.59 for eight packets) and my mom helps keep my stash filled by sending care packages containing the stuff. As a bonus, I use the tea powder to make ume toast. I just sprinkle some onto my buttered toast for Japan’s answer to garlic bread. — Mio Higashimoto, Columbia, Md.
Exploring ‘Little Big Planet’
Cute is cool. That became clear when I played "Little Big Planet 2," the follow-up to the popular video game released in 2008 for PS3. While exploring the virtual world of Sackboy, your plush customizable avatar, you’ll revel in the detail of levels made of digital cardboard and yarn that you can help create. The developer, Media Molecule, gives players a playground of tools, materials, movies and music to create with, all of which can be shared with Little Big Planet’s online community. It’s a creative person’s sandbox. Priced at $59.99. — Joe Guinto
Doggie Bento makes her sit up
If your dog has a picky palate, try Hawaii Doggie Bakery & Gift Shop’s Doggie Bento, which includes a Mini Manapua, Begg Roll, Doggie Dim Sum, Hound-Dog Half-Moon and Tail Waggin’ Wonton. My dog Kona plunked her butt down and sat eagerly, with big, hopeful eyes, the moment she sniffed these goodies from the bakery, newly reopened at Ward Warehouse. She wouldn’t quit until every last treat was gone.
The goodies are baked fresh, contain no preservatives, sugar, salt or butter and can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks. The bento costs $12, but treats can be purchased separately. Visit hawaiidoggiebakery.org. — Nina Wu