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Mother’s Day Gift Guide: Indulge Her With the Best

by Mark Thompson
EDGE Style & Travel Editor
Thursday Apr 28, 2011

Ever since Mother’s Day became an official national holiday in 1914, Americans have turned the second Sunday in May into the single biggest day for long-distance calls and dining out.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with a phone call and a nice Sunday brunch - but hello, we’re talking about Mom. Whether she’s "Mother" or "Mommie Dearest" or simply "Ma," she deserves to be feted and celebrated. She brought you here. She taught you how to eat and how to dress - and she let you go to school in that sheer Swiss dot voile blouson number with the suede cowboy boots. She might have been confused, but she still hugged you and sent out into the world with her blessing and love.

Return the favors; give your mother something nice for all the times she turned a blind eye to your fashion faux pas - and to all the bad boys she knew were wrong for you, right from the start.

Indulge your mother like you would your boyfriend - or yourself.


By Kilian: Incense Oud Gold Travel Spray Set

Much like Midas, nearly everything that Kilian Hennessy touches becomes more golden. The scion of the Cognac family and luxury goods house, Hennessy produces a line of decadently delicious fragrances, By Kilian, that are for true fragrance aficionados. By Kilian’s elixirs are precisely the sort of intoxicating scents about which Donizetti’s wrote his opera, "L’elisir d’amore."

In keeping with the fragrance industry’s renewed interest in oud, By Kilian recently debuted his latest addition to his Arabian Nights collection: Incense Oud. Oud is the Arabic word for "wood," which is a definition that barely scratches beneath the hypnotic appeal of the potent resin from the heartwood of the agar wood. So potent and seductive is oud that it is referenced in the Sanskrit Vedas. By Kilian’s Incense Oud layers the two primeval scents, incense and oud, with rose, cardamom, and labdanum, to create a mystical perfume that is as modern and romantic as it is timelessly sensual.

A fragrance this opulent merits an equally indulgent vessel - and By Kilian has created a gold travel spray set specifically for By Kilian Incense Oud. Handcrafted in black enamel, one side of the gold flacon features the By Kilian signature Achilles shield in an antiqued gold, while the reverse side has an ultra glossy gold finish - thereby evoking the fragrance’s duality between incense and oud.

In keeping with By Kilian’s eco-luxe philosophy, the gold travel spray is refillable - and sold as a set with four .25 oz. vials of By Kilian’s Incense Oud. Available exclusively at Bergdorf Goodman and select Saks for Spring/Summer 2011.

Go ahead and splurge - your mother merits indulgence.

PRICE: $235 / 1 oz travel set
LINK: By Kilian
By Kilian @ Bergdorf Goodman
By Kilian @ Saks Fifth Avenue


Allen Brothers: Red Velvet and Hummingbird Cupcakes

In 1978, the magazine Southern Living published a recipe for hummingbird cake, a long-time Southern favorite, which subsequently became the magazine’s most popular and most requested recipe. Given what you might think you know about the South and its eating habits, you’ll be happy to know that the cake is completely avian-free - and instead, loaded with a particularly delicious combination of bananas, pineapples, coconut, and pecans, and then frosted with a cream cheese frosting.

In keeping with the nation’s cupcake craze, hummingbird cakes are sometimes sold as cupcakes - and one of the best hummingbird cupcakes comes from Allen Brothers. Founded in 1893 in Chicago, Allen Brothers is better known for their beef than their baked goods - but that might change, thanks to the addition of celebrity chef Art Smith of Chicago. Apart from his tenure at Chicago’s Table Fifty-Two, Chef Smith also served as Oprah’s personal chef - and after one (or two or three) of his hummingbird cupcakes, you’ll better understand why Oprah has trouble keeping off the pounds. Chef Smith miniaturized his award-winning cakes, turning them into four-ounce treats (with a surprise filling inside) that are as lovely to look at as they are to eat.

Order a box of cupcakes, which comes with a half dozen hummingbird cupcakes and another half dozen red velvet cupcakes - and share a cupcake with your mother. Remember when she used to bake for you? Now, it’s your turn to treat her well. And what’s more endearing than a red velvet cupcake. Just saying the words - "red velvet cupcake" - makes you smile, and once you taste one of Chef Smith’s decadent cupcakes, you’ll understand the joy of tasting something as good as it sounds.

And another thing, these cupcakes are as red as Dita Von Teese’s lips - and every bit as sinful. Go on; take a bite - because your mother taught you right.

PRICE: $59.95 / one dozen cupcakes, approximately 4 oz. each
LINK: Allen Brothers Red Velvet and Hummingbird Cupcakes


Ormonde Jayne: Osmanthus Soap and Dish

The Chinese have long understood the potent power of the fruity, floral osmanthus flower, using the dried flowers for a seductively fragrant tea called guìhu? chá, which, to some, is similar to jasmine tea.

Ormonde Jayne takes this fragrant flight one step further with its Osmanthus Soap. Created with Japanese Osmanthus absolute and embellished with notes of golden citrus, Ormonde Jayne’s Osmanthus Soap is as refreshing as it is uplifting - and precisely the emollient one desires in a long and leisurely bath.

Created by perfumer, Linda Pilkington, Ormonde Jayne has become the toast of London town with its perfectly-placed perfumeries on Old Bond Street and Sloane Square. Pilkington sources the world for rare essential oils to make her award-winning range of products, including parfum, scented candles, and bath collection - and admiring fans include the eternally-fashionable Bryan Ferry, Elton John, Emma Thompson, as well as New York Times fragrance critic, Chandler Burr.

Ormonde Jayne’s Osmanthus Soap is both triple- and hard-milled, which allows for lather and consistency - and retention of shape. As for the fragrance, Osmanthus Soap opens with a top note of pomello (similar to a mild grapefruit, without the bitterness), before segueing into the heart notes of water lily and osmanthus absolute. The basenotes are cedarwood, musk, and vetiver, with labdanum resin - and in the bath, the result is nothing less than complete surrender to spring’s bounty.

In short, Ormonde Jayne’s Osmanthus Soap is a spring bouquet unto itself - complete with bone china dish. And your mother deserves nothing less than what Elton John uses.

PRICE: £52 / includes 2 x 125g soap (paraben free) and bone china soap dish
LINK: Ormonde Jayne Osmanthus Soap and Dish


Kat Burki : Freesia & Pink Grapefruit Scented Soy Candle

Of course you could send her a bouquet - and lovely though that is, what is she going to have a week later? That’s right, wilted flowers. Instead, think about a scented soy candle, with more than sixty hours of burn time.

Kat Burki’s Freesia & Pink Grapefruit Scented Soy Candle will remind your mother of summer flowers and fresh fruit. Slightly citrus, with a floral fragrance, this eleven-ounce soy wax candle in a tumbler with the Burki gold signature medallion is perfect for the nightstand or alongside the bathtub.

Interior designer Kat Burki started her own design firm in 2002. Based in Fairfield County, Connecticut, Burki has been a design participant in Albert Hadley’s "Rooms with a View" as well as the Hampton Designer Show House. Awarded "Best in Design" by Haute Living magazine, Burki has also been featured on HGTV’s "Top Ten." All of which is to say that Burki understands the high standards of her clientele - and her line of signature soaps, crèmes, and candles adheres to her philosophy of luxurious design.

Recognized for her glamorous dressing rooms, Burki has created objets that befit the Hollywood dreams of every mother. Indulge your mother with a Burki scented soy candle - and watch her face take on a celluloid glow.

PRICE: $38.00 / 11 oz.
LINK: Kat Burki Freesia & Pink Grapefruit Scented Soy Candle


(Mother’s Day Gift Guide continued on next page...)

Effen: Cucumber Vodka

Let’s face it, not every mother baked birthday cakes and served French toast on Sundays. Some mothers were more content languishing by the pool, cocktail in hand. Some mothers look better with a cocktail than an egg beater - and let’s admit it, didn’t you sometimes wish your mother was more like the willowy woman at the swim club who smoked cigarettes on a chaise?

If your mother loves a tall, cool vodka-tonic as much as you do, then Effen Cucumber Vodka might be the perfect hostess gift for when you return home for Mother’s Day weekend. Mind you, we’re not saying that your mother is like Ian Frazier’s "Cursing Mommy" character - the one who slams around the kitchen while slugging from a bottle. Because "Cursing Mommy" wouldn’t be sipping from such an elegant elixir as Effen.

Made in the Netherlands, Effen Vodka derives its name from a Dutch word meaning "smooth and balanced." Think of Effen as the urbane gentleman of vodkas - which is why your mother might be drawn to it. Based on a century-old Dutch recipe and made from top-quality premium wheat, Effen Vodka is charcoal-filtered in continuous distillation in giant stainless steel columns, resulting in what the industry refers to as "super-premium" vodka. And for design queens everywhere, Effen Vodka comes in a sleek, color-coordinated rubber sleeve that acts as a grip and an insulator to keep the vodka icy cold.

Of Effen Vodka’s original two flavors, Black Cherry has proven to be insanely popular with today’s drinkers - and so when the company decided to introduce a new flavor option, they searched for something distinctive. The resultant Cucumber Vodka is crisp and clean with a refreshing head of herbaceous cucumber. Inhale deeply before sipping and you would swear that you’re ankle-deep in a patch of vine-ripe cucumbers early on a summer morning. The dew is almost palpable. Even before sipping, Effen Cucumber Vodka evokes some of summer’s best moments.

Sip this one on the rocks, or in a Bloody Mary, or simply as a basil martini. The slightest hint of vanilla keeps this vodka sweet on the palate, not unlike the sweetest of a summer garden’s bounty. Better yet, mix up a pitcher of martinis for your mother - and go join her by the pool. Toast to her happiness and tell her that she taught you everything you know about living the good life.

PRICE: $30.00 / 75 proof / 750 ml
LINK: Effen Cucumber Vodka


The Vintage Modern Home

How many times have you found yourself in bed at night, happily reading a glossy shelter magazine, only to raise your eyes and glance around your own bedroom - and sigh with resignation. Why don’t our own rooms look like the ones in the magazines?

Most of us live with possessions accumulated over the course of a lifetime - and not just our own. But how to make design sense out of the mish-mash of objets from your grandmother’s estate and the flea market finds from 26th Street?

The recent publication of Katherine Sorrell’s "The Vintage Modern Home" addresses these design quandaries, while offering a surfeit of practical solutions. Sorrell is a former Associate Editor of Homes & Gardens magazine, as well as a frequent contributor to leading magazines and newspapers - and she’s seen it all and made design sense of it.

"The Vintage Modern Home" is loaded with 310 color illustrations, many of them full pages. Sorrell recommends assessing what you have and then considering your own sense of style. What Sorrell is arguing for in these pages is that it’s possible for us to enjoy the modern world’s technological advances while surrounded with some of the best design treasures of the past decades. It’s not necessarily a new stance, and yet the cumulative effect of the photographs and Sorrell’s prose is to make us better appreciate homes that successfully celebrate the past while embracing the future. In short, while we all want to be comfortable, we don’t want to become Miss Havisham - and Sorrell shows us how to make order out of our heirlooms. For as much as anything else in "The Vintage Modern Home," Sorrell is reminding us that home is where the heart is - and we all want to be happy.

A perfect gift for the mother who is unable to let go of your old bedroom in her house. Help her sell those A&F catalogs on eBay - and turn your old room into a home office.

PRICE: $39.95 / 192 pages / hardcover
LINK: The Vintage Modern Home


Caldrea : Mandarin Vetiver Cloverleaf Sink Set

Some mothers love to clean - and we’re not talking only about Joan Crawford. Fortunately, some mothers love to keep their homes as neat as a Calvin Klein store. And whether they use domestics or get down on their own hands and knees, one thing that clean mothers always need are cleaning products.

Based in Minneapolis, Caldrea has been making home cleaning products that are as luxurious as skin care products - because they got sick and tired of harsh chemicals and medicinal smells on their skin. Caldrea’s home cleaning products are earth-friendly, with every liquid biodegradable, and all packaging recyclable - and all products free of ammonia, chlorine, phosphates, and petroleum distillates.

Recently, Caldrea introduced their latest signature fragrance: Mandarin Vetiver. The herbaceous, woody vetiver has been an integral ingredient in some of the world more famous perfumes - and vetiver is a perfect complement to the fresh, citrus scent of mandarin. Top notes of blood orange and grapefruit segue into tangerine blossoms and woody petitgrain, with the vetiver lingering as a basenote alongside white thyme. The result is a home cleaning product that smells good enough to apply to your wrists and décolletage - and in fact, we know one woman who became so intoxicated with this scent that she cleaned for nearly six hours.

Caldrea’s Mandarin Vetiver Cloverleaf Sink Set includes dish soap liquid (made with soap bark extract for degreasing), countertop spray (containing a vegetable protein extract), and hand soap (with aloe vera gel, olive oil, and essential oils), along with a sturdy stainless steel sink caddy that is water-resistant and shaped in a three-leaf pattern.

You know how you love coming into a home that smells delicious? Give Caldrea’s Mandarin Vetiver Cloverleaf Sink Set to your mother and your home is going to smell good enough to be photographed for Architectural Digest.

PRICE: $40.00 / each set includes: Hand Soap Liquid, 16 fl. oz.;?Dish Soap Liquid, 16 fl. oz.; Countertop Cleanser, 16 fl. oz.;?Stainless Cloverleaf Caddy
LINK: Caldrea Mandarin Vetiver Cloverleaf Sink Set


(Mother’s Day Gift Guide continued on next page...)

Frownies: Beautiful Eyes Bag Complete Eye Care Beauty Program

We once knew a man who went to retrieve his mother after she’d had some "work" done on her face - and the ensuing trauma of seeing his mother’s bandaged and bruised face made him swear that he’d never go under the knife. Perhaps his mother had never considered Frownies.

Since 1889, Frownies have been eradicating wrinkles and reversing the signs of aging for men and women the world over, particularly those in the entertainment industries. Gloria Swanson famously wore them in "Sunset Boulevard" - and Olivia de Havilland had them sent to her hotels. Even the Kennedy women used them.

For more than four generations, the family-held company has been committed to anti-aging products and while the 120-year-old patch technology has remained the same, Frownies recently introduced Immune Shield to its skin treatment line. Made from organic whole oats, this skin serum is 40% vitamin E, with a light fragrance somewhere between hazelnut and sesame seed oils. Created for post-sun skin care or over-exposure to UV rays, Immune Shield is also perfect for fine lines around the eyes and mouth - and almost immediately effective.

So then, here’s your choice: let your mother go under the knife - or give her the Frownies Beautiful Eyes Bag Complete Eye Care Beauty Program. The in-home beauty kit comes with Gel Eye Patches and Between Eyes Facial Patches, as well as Rose Water Hydrator and Immune Shield. And given that there are 144 patches and three pairs of eye gels, you and your mother can spend hours of quality time out by the pool while your wrinkles fade away. It sure beats cucumbers - and let’s not even start about surgeons’ knives. Give Frownies for Mother’s Day and watch your mother smile.

PRICE: $102.50
LINK: Frownies Beautiful Eyes Bag Complete Eye Care Beauty Program


Soby’s New South Cuisine

For some people, cookbooks are like pornography: all those glossy photos of haunches of meat, so lovingly photographed, poking upright on the plate. (And you’ve been wondering why so many people that you know and love read cookbooks in bed at night?)

If your mother is one of those who loves food fantasies, then "Soby’s New South Cuisine" might become her new nocturnal partner. For years, Soby’s has been thrilling discerning gourmands from its Greenville, South Carolina locale in what was once a cotton exchange. Opened in 1997 by partners Carl Sobocinski and David Williams, Soby’s received immediate accolades for the building’s refurbishment, as well as for the menu’s focus on the culinary traditions of coastal Carolina and the rest of the South, from Virginia to New Orleans.

Now, with the publication of "Soby’s New South Cuisine," it’s possible to fill your own home with the tantalizing fragrances from such favorite Soby’s creations as fried green tomato Napoleon, Clemson blue cheese fondue, watermelon gazpacho, sweet potato gnocchi, lobster cobbler, ginger molasses skillet cake, maple pecan peach cobbler - and scores of others succulent "New South" culinary sensations. The splendid, full-page photographs of such scandalously delicious recipes are the equivalent of centerfolds, so don’t be surprised to find yourself (or your mother) salivating.

Apart from the recipes, "Soby’s New South Cuisine" has sub-chapters on the history of Soby’s interspersed throughout the book, with before and after photographs, as well as anecdotes that examine the role of the restaurant in the burgeoning Greenville gourmand scene and the Upstate area.

Be forewarned: the cumulative effect of wandering through these pages might provoke a road trip to South Carolina for you and your mother. And that’s another whole movie altogether.

PRICE: $37.50 / 224 pages / hardcover
LINK: Soby’s
Soby’s New South Cuisine


Kusmi Tea: Impérial Label

Born of a Russian peasant boy’s ambition over 140 years ago, Kusmi Tea opened its first teahouse in St. Petersburg in 1867 - and by 1901 was one of the three largest tea companies in Russia. A decade later, in 1917, the Maison Kusmi-Thé opened in Paris, which is why Kusmi Tea’s motto is Born in St. Petersburg, Raised in Paris.

Of course, all this provenance wouldn’t matter a whit were it not for the fact that Kusmi Tea has been adored by tea aficionados for over a century. Russian tea has long been celebrated for its excellent quality, and one of Kusmi’s most popular teas, Kusmi Impérial Label, draws inspiration from a 12th-century Ruassian hot drink called "sbiten," made with cinnamon, spices, orange peel, and honey.

A blend of Chinese green tea, flavored with orange, cinnamon, licorice, and sea buckthorn, Kusmi Impérial Label is as rich in antioxidants, oils, and vitamins as it is both pleasing to the palate and the nose. With a hint of licorice sweetness, Kusmi Impérial Label tastes of cinnamon orange - and the addition of the sea buckthorn berries provide fatty acids, which are beneficial to the skin, while the green tea provides a variety of antioxidants.

In short, you’re drinking this tea as much for taste as for beautiful skin. And that’s why Kusmi Impérial Label is a perfect gift for your mother; after all, she’s the one who taught you that beauty on the outside starts from within.

PRICE: $19.50 / 4.4 oz. metal tin
LINK: Kusmi Tea Impérial Label


A long-term New Yorker and a member of New York Travel Writers Association, Mark Thompson has also lived in San Francisco, Boston, Provincetown, D.C., Miami Beach and the south of France. The author of the novels WOLFCHILD and MY HAWAIIAN PENTHOUSE, he has a PhD in American Studies and is the recipient of fellowships at MacDowell, Yaddo, and Blue Mountain Center. His work has appeared in numerous publications.


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