By Janet Kelly and Nancy McKeon
MAY 9 is now 11 days away. But for weeks, we’ve been inundated—our inboxes flooded with suggestions about what to give Mom on her special day. Silk pillowcases, perfume and bouquets of flowers are fine and dandy, of course. However, we decided to go looking beyond the same old, same old for fresh ways to tell Mom how much she rocks our world.
LEFT: Phalaenopsis orchids are lovely and if anyone wants to give me one, I’d be most grateful. But a Miltonia orchid, well, that’s a sit-up-and-take-notice gift for your mother, daughter, niece, best girlfriend—you get the idea. Often called pansy orchids because they look a lot like garden pansies, they’re descended from wild orchids found in the forests of the Andes Mountains. The Rouge ‘Claf Plum’ Live Orchid Plant ($45, Etsy) will produce gorgeous red blooms with white outlines and accents on the petals. Did we mention it’s also quite fragrant??
RIGHT: Watering the garden is not the hard part; in fact, it can be a fine time to meditate or just daydream. What’s not nearly as enjoyable is rounding up the hose in a neat concentric circle so no one trips over it and breaks an ankle or something. Furthermore, even a perfectly wound hose lying around a patio or deck or balcony is not attractive. But that unsightliness can be contained. Frontgate’s Fleur de Lis Hose Pot ($159.20) has the look of Italian stone pottery (it’s actually crushed stone composite). It can store up to 125 feet of 5/8” garden hose, weighs 18 pounds, can stand up to the elements and has a drain hole to prevent standing water—mosquito hazard, you know.
About five years ago or so, our favorite Washington DC photographer Renée Comet developed a line of cotton dish towels covered with her full-color food photos. Made of 100 percent cotton and manufactured in the USA, these delicious-looking textiles are meant to be shown off as well as merely used to dry dishes and glasses. Gift them to your favorite women. The Watermelon and the Figs tea towels are $22 each at Comet Cloth.
LEFT: At first glance, nothing to see here—very proper blue willow pattern mugs in standard 12-ounce and jumbo 20-ounce sizes. But, this is Don Moyer’s Calamityware, so that tidy Chinese garden temple scene is being bombarded by . . . everything bad: zombie poodles, evil robots, UFOs, giant frogs, pteradactyls, Bigfoot . . . and more! “Things Could Be Worse” porcelain mugs are a good way to make sure Mom is paying attention! A single 12-ounce mug is $19; a two-pack of the 20-ounce size is $45; a four-pack of the 12-ounce size is $54. All at the Calamityware site.
RIGHT: Does you mother love her morning cup of coffee but hate how quickly that must-have beverage cools down before even finishing that first cuppa? Sure, there’s the microwave, but this Ui Mug & Warmer Set ($75, Nordstrom) might be a better solution.The 12-ounce ceramic mug (dishwasher safe) comes with a special charger that uses magnetic induction energy to heat up the metallic layering on the cup’s bottom. It keeps the coffee toasty—around 135 degrees. And just in case your smartphone needs more juice, the warming base can charge it right up. The set includes mug, lid, charger and 12-volt power adaptor.
LEFT: John Derian’s glass découpage dishes can be pricy. But Derian, who definitely has a taste for the droll, also has a lighter (in price) side. His line of 7¼-inch dessert or salad plates in melamine are the perfect complement to this Covid year’s appetite for outdoor dining. Unbreakable, of course, and won’t break the bank at $8.50 each. Shown is Spider Web; plates are also available in several traditional faience patterns.
RIGHT: Sometimes—actually often—simple is best. Like this functional and decorative Ikea Vattenkrasse Watering Can, which works well for small, discrete areas. It’s $20 from Amazon.
LEFT: When my hardcore tennis buddies started talking up Pickleball, and I noticed that the few courts at the park near my house were always full, it occurred to me to pay attention. My enthusiast friend recommended getting paddles from Paddletek but admitted choosing one was complicated. If you want to encourage Mom to join in the fun, here’s a way to begin: The Paddletek Phoenix G6 Composite Paddle Bundle ($119.99, Pickleball Central) comes with two paddles and four outdoor pickleballs in yellow. If you have a portable net or local court to visit, you’ll immediately be able to start a game. Tell us how it goes.
RIGHT: I like a few of things about this rain hat. For one thing, if it’s raining, I definitely need polka dots. Second, the brim is broad enough to keep all that wet from streaming down the back of my neck. Third, and possibly best of all, is that it comes in two sizes and has an interior elastic hatband that adjusts the fit and the Outside Designworks website instructed me on how to measure my head. All that for $45. Denise Dickens, the craftswoman in charge, also produces raincoats, ponchos, and other hats and accessories for men and women. Lined rain hats (the lightweight polka-dot version is unlined), also in a range of colors and prints, are $50.
Five tablespoons of popping corn + 1 tablespoon of oil + a bit of salt + 3 minutes or so in the microwave oven = real old-fashioned popcorn minus the nasty synthetic-laden microwave bag and the dubious “movie theater taste.” This isn’t the only genius silicone popper out there, but I like the nod to minimalism in shape and color. And I love the fact that, post-popping, it squooshes down to a couple of inches in height and lets me stow it away in a drawer. The Popper, from W&P Design, is $20 at Nordstrom.
These little (about 1¼ inches tall) arty “soft enamel” lapel pins aren’t just about mothers. There are plenty of other pins that riff on all sorts of art and sculpture. But c’mon, what better occasion to bestow “Whistler’s Mother” (left) on someone other than James McNeill Whistler’s mum? Or the Venus of Willendorf on just about any mom, this fabled prehistoric find thought to be quite the symbol of fertility. These and dozens more celebrations of art can be found at the Pin Museum, where the enamel Whistler is $10 and the 3-D Venus is $12.
The shimmer of real silk velvet when mated with embroidery makes pillows by Anke Drechsel totally Mom-worthy, in a range of colors and patterns. Left to right are “Mimosa II” in Orchid (12×12 inches, $192), “Mimosa” in Old Rose (12×12 inches, $236) and “William” in Sky Blue (20×20 inches, $404). All include the pillow insert. The pillows range in price up to about $600 and some come as large as 24×24 inches. They’re available at John Derian.
Wander over to Omsom.com and discover what your next chicken breast is going to be wearing for dinner. Seriously, the Asian flavors sealed in these “starter” packets deliver the zip that even big-city takeouts will find hard to replicate. The Pham sisters, Vanessa and Kim, raised by Vietnamese refugee parents, have collaborated with real-deal East Asian and Southeast Asian chefs to deliver the complexity of such treasures as Korean bulgogi, Thai larb and Vietnamese lemongrass BBQ plus some Chinese, Filipino and Japanese dishes. You can give Mom the Omsom Bundles for both East Asian and Southeast Asian dishes (two weeks’ worth of meals for two) for $55, or just tiptoe into the idea by buying a single-flavor 3-pack for $12 (each pack flavors two servings, so that’s still six meals). Mom just has to provide the pork or beef or tofu and veggies—or that chicken breast—that get to do the honors.
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