sweet mother’s day gift: mail-order italian cuore di pane loaf

My mother’s side of the family is Italian, and raised me with an affinity towards baked goods, especially those from DiCamillo Bakery from my hometown of Niagara. Whenever I visit the region, I always buy a loaf or two of their crusty Italian bread to take home and put in the freezer. A toasted slice with a bit of Nutella spread on top takes me back to 30 years in one bite.

I also have use DiCamillo’s mail order site for gifts, and their Cuore di Pane (Heart of Bread) is sure to melt any mother’s heart. The bread itself is delicious — made of candied orange, raisins, dried cherries with a light almond frosting. It goes great with a cup of a coffee. Packaged in gorgeous keepsake box, it’s sure to make any Sunday special. $26 at DiCamillo.com

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herb kits? so last year! grow edible flowers instead

Around this time of year, foodie magazines like to publish recipes that contain edible flowers. Resisting the urge to capture such a gorgeous and fleeting ingredient during its peak season is not possible. Look at this bountiful salad in the new MSL! Or this feature over at Food & Wine. But us readers, especially those without a green space, are left longing, relying solely on inventive chefs to toss a dose of colorful viola or geranium petals our way. The truth is edible flowers truly are everywhere, but without turning into a nighttime flower thief that raids the neighborhood beds, most of flowers are there to be seen, not eaten. Enter this adorable kit available from Rhode Island designer Sarah Rainwater at Etsy to solve the problem! It comes
all the goods you need to grow four types of heirloom flower seeds in in your home — calendula, lemon mint, nasturtium and starflower. In addition to including biodegradable folded paper pots for starting the seeds, it also comes with a lovely wooden display that will display your fresh flowers in glass vials — until you’re ready to eat them! What an inventive Mother’s Day present, don’t you think? Edible flower kit, $50 at Etsy.

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get to know: caravan pacific & their lovely lamps

Shannon Guirl, owner and designer of Caravan Pacific. Photo courtesy of Lela Cyd.

If you are a fan of mid-century modern inspired design, you are going to love Caravan Pacific! Owner and designer, Shannon Guirl, was a television editor in New York until 2011, when she decided to leave Brooklyn for Portland to become part of the city’s entrepreneurial “maker scene.” She’d been designing lighting in her spare time, and continued developing her designs on the road. A year later she introduced her first table lamp, the Alberta and just like that Caravan Pacific was open for business.

All the table lamps in Caravan Pacific’s offering are handcrafted by teams of skilled artisans. Shannon makes the prototypes herself, using a lathe, a traditional wood turning tool originating in ancient Egypt. Talk about a time tested technique! That prototype is then molded and cast in clay to make the body of each lamp. The neck and base are also turned on the lathe and then wired and assembled one by one in her studio.  Even the shades are made by a family owned company that has been in business since the 1940s.

The prototype for the Sullivan was turned on a wood lathe.

Here’s a peek at Caravan Pacific’s newest creation, the Sullivan. It’s a petite table lamp with clean lines and subtle curves that I have been coveting one for my nightstand since the first time I saw it. It’s such a great price, at $185, I don’t think I will be able to resist!

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thrifting for a good cause: housing works’ design on a dime benefit

As the weather warms our homes go through their annual purge and renew process. Out with the old and tired! In with the new — or new old — things we will cherish. Those of you in the NYC area may want to make some extra room for a new item; Housing Work’s annual Design on a Dime is coming up on April 25th. Featuring curated vignettes from designers like Evette Rios, Sabrina Soto and Lara Spencer, the proceeds from the event benefit Housing Works new development in Brooklyn, the Hull Street Residence for homeless adults living with HIV/AIDS. As you can see from the photos above, last year’s event was chock-a-block full of swanky items from lamps, rugs, and even hefty pieces like couches. Early birds with deep pockets can buy tickets to the opening night reception ($200), and the rest can shop on Friday and Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm at the Metropolitan Pavilion on 125 W. 18th Street. Click here for more information and tickets.

Photo by Joshua Kirstal.

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no brainer mother’s day presents: birchbox for the garden

Have you tried Birchbox yet? It’s a subscription gifting service, where for about $10 a month you receive a little box full of goodies — mostly beauty product samples customized to you — in the mail. The startup has been taking off since its founding a couple of years ago, and now is branching out into the gifting space. What better time to give it a try than for Mother’s Day? We would love to get (and give) their limited edition Birchbox for the Garden — though it should be retitled Birchbox for the Wannabe Gardener. Inside is a small collection of lovely spring scents and treats: There are mini jars of jam from Sarabeth’s, TOCCA’s Crema da Mano Luxe, and L’OCCITANE’s lovely Jasmin & Bergamot Eau de Toilette. The lucky plucker will also get a seed kit, a flowery utility knife and handy tote bag. Best of all, it arrives prepackaged up in a beautiful box for only $32 (valued at $87). Take a look at Birchbox.com today (and be warned you might just find something cute for yourself, too).

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