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Why I’m not sending my mom a Mother’s Day gift

As the owner of an ecommerce site, I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but I truly think the most meaningful gift you can give your mom is a hand-written note or card—one in which you take the time to write down a few thoughts about what makes her special, or what she’s taught you, how she’s inspired you, or why you love her. Even if it wasn’t all perfect, hopefully there are some positives you have to offer her. Long after the flowers have died and the breakfast in bed has been consumed, that card will have a special spot in her desk or bedside table, where she can reread it and treasure it and know there are some things she did right.  

This photo is of a picture my son made me probably in kindergarten. It sits prominently on my desk and makes me smile every time I see it. The truth is I would rather have one of these than just about any other gift you could name! image

And don’t worry, my mom’s birthday is on May 20th, so she’ll get a combined birthday/Mother’s Day gift of some sort from me, but the thing I feel best about giving is the card I sent her (even if I did have to pay extra for Priority Mail to get it there on time!) 

Top Ten Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gifts

It’s not too late to send Mom an extra-special gift! Order any of the following gifts for Mom by Wednesday, 5/7 @ noon ET and rest assured it will arrive before Mother’s Day!

1. 12 Ways You Made a Difference: A handbound, cloth-covered hardbound fill-in book, simple prompts to make a meaningful gift.

2. Sterling photo locket: Create a completely personal necklace with these versatile, beautifully crafted sterling silver square and round lockets from Journey Lockets.

3. "My Mother, My Friend" necklace: Let your mom know how special she is to you with this Morse code necklace. Two 14K gold-filled charms spell out “mother” and “friend” in dots and dashes on a subtly hammered surface.

4. "XO" Necklace: Not too gushy, not too reserved, just right: Say it simply, with love, with this handcrafted “XO” necklace in sterling silver.

5. Tiny Treasure Boxes: These wonderfully detailed, whimsically designed boxes are a crafted from metal and hand-patinated, painted and riveted. They are the perfect container for a special piece of jewelry, or a gift unto themselves.

6. Porcelain Flower Fragrance Diffuser (on sale!): This elegant white bisque porcelain flower is actually a room fragrance diffuser! So much prettier than the typical fragrance diffuser sticks (and also spill-proof), the porcelain flower draws up the scented oil from the glass vase and diffuses the scent into the room.

7. Initial Recipe Box and matching recipe cards: Inspired by card catalogs and antique cabinetry, this beautiful wooden recipe box is handmade in Brooklyn and personalized with the initial of your choice in a brass holder. The box comes with a set of divider tabs. A slot on the top of the box holds the recipe card upright while you’re cooking.

8. Tiny package with Mother’s Day bouquet: These adorable diminutive packages (only 1¾” square), complete with micro canceled stamps and twine, open up to reveal a little object with a clever message. It’s even wrapped in a Lilliputian newspaper, The Small Times. So much more fun than just a greeting card!

9. "Pinch of Love" pewter measuring spoons: For meals made with love, we’re smitten with these beautiful hand-cast pewter measuring spoons. The heart-shaped (but accurate) spoons are engraved with measurements that could be the recipe for a great Mother’s Day!

10. "Magnificent Mom" Medal: Because what Mom doesn’t deserve a medal for bravery, cougage, and honor for her tireless service?

And don’t forget: Bespoke has gift certificates available, and we are always happy to send a very pretty card along to let Mom know a special gift is on its way!

I just discovered amazing family (and pet!) portraitist Mimi Vang Olsen via a great story in Remodelista about the home of two writers I love, Ayelet Waldman and Michael Chabon (their Craftsman home in Berkeley looks just as writerly and enviable as you’d imagine, without being at all over-the-top). I love how this very detailed portrait includes pictures of all their books as well as so many decorative elements from their home (look at the detail on that rug and sofa!) Truly a portrait of a whole life, not just a family. Looking for more about the artist, I came across this great profile of her in the NY Times and the many famous people she’s painted. Wouldn’t it be fabulous to be able to commission her to paint your family? But now it seems she is focused almost exclusively on dog and pet portraits! She has a small storefront on a charming stretch of Hudson St. in NYC. I look forward to checking it out. 

Coasting Along

The NYT recently had a fun feature on the resurgent popularity of coasters, which they attribute to the cocktail culture converging with the artisan/maker movement, with coasters offering the perfect mini-canvas.  

They included our clever new Coastline Coasters by Reed Wilson: 

But we also have a LOT of other fabulous coasters, many of which can be custom-designed and personalized for a fantastic gift.

1. For example, woodworker Brad Weckesser’s wood map coasters can be laser-cut into the shape of any state or country, then they’ll etch a heart by your favorite city, and even add a date or name at the bottom if you’d like. These would make a fun wedding favor or a great gift for anyone:

2. Or create a completely custom set of 50 letterpress coasters in the shape, design, monogram or text, and color of your choice—a glamorous housewarming gift!

3. Jazz up the patterns and colors with this custom set of 4 reusable hard-backed coasters:

4. Help guests keep track of their drinks at a party with these "Hello My Name Is" coasters that you can write on with a dry-erase marker, and then wipe clean after the party:

5. Or have some fun with these pick-up line coasters: 

6. The list goes on and on, but if you’re itching for spring, an effortlessly elegant hostess gift are our letterpress Flower Coasters, fetchingly packaged in a clear box tied up in ribbon and ready to gift. 

The Art of Mapping—Old and New

We’re excited to introduce the work of artist/engineer Dan Linden, who creates modern-day city maps through laser-cutting or etching stainless steel, as well as foam and wood to create 3-D maps that trace city streets, rivers and parks in intricate detail. In shimmering stainless steel against a matte black mat and frame, they have bold graphic impact. And the 5” x 7” framed maps are only $32. 

Dan hails from Columbus, Ohio—and that’s also where Anne Holman is from. Anne’s our featured artisan whose draws on her prodigious collection of antique and vintage maps from all over the world to create beautiful custom sterling silver map jewelry. Coincidence? Perhaps not … Dan says he was inspired not only by his hometown, but also its thriving art scene. As he explains, “There is something extremely strong in the connection between people and their hometowns. When friends looked at the Columbus Cut Map, they were intrigued and curious about the strange intersecting lines and spaces, but when I look at it I know almost every road.” 

Dan also takes custom order requests for any city in his larger map sizes of 18” x 24” high-density black EVA foam or 34” x 36” wood. 

If you’re a rabid fan …

I kind of love the idea behind this new site, Slater Zorn—clothing and accessories that are color-keyed to your favorite college team! More sophisticated than you’d think. Yes,  you’d have to be a pretty rabid fan, but remember, I’m married to a man from Alabama … Roll Tide is not tossed around casually in our house! 


We’ve always loved art and items that are about a specific place—where you’re from, where you live, where you love to visit—such as maps and place names. MoMA has just curated their Destination: NYC colllection, and it’s pretty cool (things made in NYC, not just things that say New York). Lots of great stuff here, but we’re betting everyone in the rest of the country is pretty sick of everything always being about NY and how cool Brooklyn thinks it is. So come to Bespoke to have whatever place you call home celebrated! BTW, we found some fantastic new letterpress maps based on old city maps at the National Stationery Show yesterday—you’re going to love them! (There’s a lot of stuff based on states—all 50 of them—out there right now too.) 

Bronx magnet. NYC Graffiti Lucite Bangle from Alexis Bittar

Reaching out in tough times

A beautiful and important post by Grace Bonney on DesignSponge about the importance of reaching out to friends who are experiencing a death, serious illness, divorce or other difficult situation in their families. Good suggestions both in the post and in the comments, which led me to this excellent post from The Podge Files on “What to say when you don’t know what to say.” Whether it’s a handwritten note (not a “like” on Facebook!), a meal, or helpful gesture or small gift, it means so much to know your friends are there to support you. 


Photo by Jen Huang

Wow, the art of the love letter is still alive … . Take inspiration from this smitten, talented fellow at Terrain

I can reveal this because my dad doesn’t read Tumblr: For his birthday, I’m having a wooden puzzle custom-made by Liberty Puzzles from this beautiful photo he took in Jackson Hole, Wyoming this past year. My folks have really gotten into wooden puzzles, but you can also have regular cardboard jigsaw puzzles made of your pix (or say, your kids’ artwork) by sites like Shutterfly for much less money (about $20; the custom wooden puzzles are $115-$145). 

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