Monday, May 6, 2019

2019 Mother's Day Gift & Travel Guide

A selection.


It is impossible to express one’s love for the woman who raised us and made us who were today through one day of recognition and a gift. Nonetheless we should all put a little thought into a thank you even though mom will probably say that it’s not necessary.
Woodside native Jim McCann started what has become the most famous name in the floral industry, 1800Flowers, in 1971. Back then the idea of purchasing floral arrangements through a toll-free phone call was revolutionary. Over the years, McCann has expanded his business to include all kinds of gift baskets. Nevertheless bouquets remain the company’s bread and butter and this year it has brought back its Amazing Mom Bouquet which ranges between $100 and $50.

1800Flowers’ biggest competitor, Teleflora, is offering an Art Glass Treasure Bouquet which has a floral arrangement that includes roses and lilies and, as the name indicates, a stylish hand-blown vase.
Teleflora's Art Glass Treasure Bouquet.

Harry & David’s is known for its sweet confection gift baskets including the Rose and Rose Gift Set which contains their own pink blush wine, shortbread cookies, Royal Verano pears, and of courses, roses. Savannah Bee also makes fine gift baskets that include every imaginable kind of honey and various food delicacies. Stonewall Kitchen out of York, Maine has every kind of gift basket imaginable but I recommend their various New England foods baskets. On the local front, Fairway Markets also has a sizable assortments of food baskets.

Stonewall Kitchen New England Breakfast gift basket.

Chocolates may be caloric but they do contain anti-oxidants. Francois Payard, Ghirardelli, See’s, and Godiva (check out their assorted chocolate flower and gold chocolate gift boxes) all make premium chocolates in a variety of sizes and price points. If you are worried about allergens, Vermont Nut-Free Chocolates are the way to go and you don’t sacrifice any taste with their confections.
Other sweet delectable options are Bertha Mae’s Brownies based out of Los Angeles (and they sell homemade cookies as well) and Wicked Whoopies (those incredibly tasty cream pies and cakes) from Gardiner, Maine. Manhattan-based Baked Cravings boasts that all of its confections, are both kosher and free of all nuts. It signature confection is its Tiramisu Cupcake in a Jar. Not to be outdone, the Paris Baguette baked goods chain, which has a location in Sunnyside, is promoting its Berry Best Mom cake and a Mom’s Rose Blossom cake.
Baked Cravings.

A Gilligan & O’Malley Women’s Terry Robe by Trident is ideal for relaxing around the house and it sells for around $40 at Thirsty Towels ( has plenty of robes as well as beachwear for under $150. They are available as well in plus sizes. Lands’ End ( also has plenty of robes as well as outerwear for mom as does Vineyard Vines. You can also find jewelry and tote bags at
Vineyard Vines navy corduroy tote.

There are more options than ever for buying stylish jewelry pieces without breaking the bank. New York City gems designer Alex Woo ( has pendants that fall anywhere from $150 to $400 while Amato Style’s ( Pitti earrings and Soho Wrap bracelet cost around $300.Los Angeles jewelry designer Lejoi Reese makes handcrafted rings, bracelets, and earrings that are all priced under $100. You can examine them all at
You can browse through a very good resource for shopping for jewelry, fine art, antiques and even furniture by logging onto

This is the 50th anniversary of the Woodstock Festival and a new company cleverly called Peace of Stage, is selling pendants, framed photos, and t-shirts relating to the most famous rock concert in history.

A t-shirt from Peace Of Stage.

If you are going to buy mom jewelry, be sure to pick up a can of Colle, ( a cleaning mousse that keeps valuables from getting tarnished by age.
Watches are the most popular form of jewelry and the great news is that companies as Timex (their Waterbury line is very stylish) Speidel, Fossil, and Little Neck’s own Armitron produce quality timepieces for under $150 that look as if they cost three times that amount. Victorinox’s Alliance XS watches are slightly pricier as they run in the $350 to $450 range.
Armitron Swarovski Crystal Women's Watch.

Handbags are always popular. Vera Bradley is known for its lively cloth pocketbooks and weekend duffels. Behno (( , Hadley Pollett (, Lovard (, Zac Posen (, Be Brilliant ( and Callista Crafts ( make totes and clutches in the $200-$700 neighborhood. If you want to go high-end, Atelier has handbags in the $1500-$2,000 range. If you are looking for good value, Vince Camuto’s ( Ring-Handle bags run from about $125 to $200 while Nine West, better known for its shoes, produces a Karima Satchel in dark wheat color that retails for $119.
Nine West Karima Satchel.

There is no shortage of perfumes on the market but choosing the right one is not easy. Sephora has a gift box that the company smartly calls “Favorites” that contains perfumes from Dolce & Gabbana and Versace. Former Jackson Heights resident Tara Durkan started a fragrance company in L.A., Dossage, and Dossage 8 for Her is a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Chanel No. 5. Carolina Herrera is a well-respected fragrance brand and its latest offering is Good Girl Dot Drama Eau de Parfum. Other perfumes worth considering are Armani Si Fiori Eau de Parfum and anything from the sizable Viktor & Rolf collection (, and Rahua Palo Santo Oil Perfume.

Good Girl Dot Drama Eau de Parfum.

There was a time when one might feel self-conscious using any kind of skin care product. Not anymore. These days folks of all ages are using anti-wrinkle cremes and anti-aging serums.
It’s a competitive industry as there’s no shortage of quality producers of these products and that has led to competitive pricing in a very upscale industry. Josie Maran, Dr. Teal’s, K-aesthetics, Vichy Laboratories (, DHC (, Peter Thomas Roth (, Rebels Refinery (, Eve Lom and Tammy Fender both make high quality anti-aging serums as well as a host other skincare products.

Vichy Mineral 89 Hyaluronic Acid Face Moisturizer.

For those who prefer anti-aging serums with unusual organic ingredients there’s L:A Bruket ’Broccoli Seed Serum ( and Veritas Farms Full Spectrum Lotion that is made with hemp oil.
CeraVe and Ceramedx both produce hydrating cleansers that help battle dry skin while European Wax Center’s Strut 365 line of products include body wash, lotion, and polish. Vichy’s LiftActiv purports to reduce facial wrinkles while Theramu’s ( Pro Strength Eye Serum to the inevitable bags that appear in the ocular region. If you want even more choices of quality skincare items log onto or visit one of the many Kiehl’s locations. Kiehl’s newest product is its Calendula Serum-Infused Water Cream.

Theramu selection.

Mineral Fusion is quietly rivaling Avon, Maybelline, Shideido, and Estee Lauder as a full service manufacturer of beauty products as it makes its own line of lipsticks, eye shadow, mascara, moisturizers, body lotions, and shampoos.
Ulta Beauty’s Lipstick Queen is perfect for hip moms who are not too shy to wear loud loud colors. Urban Decay has signed a licensing deal with HBO and has launched a Game of Thrones line of Vice lipsticks. Other notable lipsticks are EM Cosmetics Infinite Lip Cloud in Love ( and L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche Lipstick.

Ulta Beauty's Lipstick Queen.

Shifting coloring from lips to nails, manicurist to the stars Deborah Lippmann ( has an extensive line of nail polishes.
Let’s not forget decorating the ocular facial region. The aforementioned Urban Decay NAKED Reloaded Eyeshadow Pallette has quickly become an industry leader.
Another good beauty resource idea is to check out Sephora’s website, ( for gift box sets. L’Oreal USA’s Viktor & Rolf line frequently has fragrance and skincare products sold together in a gift box at that retailer.
Hair products are a tricky purchase because nearly everyone is particular about they want to use on or for their scalp. Revlon, Conair, Drybar, and Rusk make hair dryer and curling irons that make hair look fuller as do shampoos as Rahua, Evolis ( Dr. Marder Scalp Therapy, Grande Hair Nutra Peptide, Austin Kyle, and Paul Brown.

Eyelashes are getting almost as much attention these days as hair is in the beauty industry. L’Oreal Paris Voluminous Mascara, Grande Lash, LASHFOOD’s Power Duo Enhancers Set, and Palladio Beauty’s Lash Obsessed Mascara are sure to bring attention to mom’s eyes.
Summer is coming and that means so is sandals season. Ocean Minded and Havaianas both make sandals that can be worn as part of everyday fashion as well as on the beach. The same can be said for those durable clogs made by Crocs as well as American-made spa shoes produced by Oka-B. For more stylish summer dress shoes check out the collections from Bearpaw and ELOQUII.
Foot comfort is important around the house as well. Dear Foams (, and Very Lovely Soles ( both make quality inexpensive slippers. If you want to splurge, Minnie Rose ( makes cashmere slippers.
The arrival of warmer days means that the sun is out for more hours and that its rays are quite direct. Alba Botanica, Coola, Kiss My Face, and Coppertone all make sunscreens with high SPF counts that maximize skin protection.
Sunglasses are also a must to prevent damage ocular damage. Safilo is the leader in the field of fashionable and functional eyewear as they have stylish frames in various price points from ritzy Jimmy Choo and Fendi that run north of $300 to the surprisingly affordable to their OXYDO and Polaroid lines that run under $125. If you think mom would like the round rimless specs favored by most famously John Lennon and Meg Ryan, you should check out Scanlan Theodore ( 

Scanlan Theodore's Sena sunglasses.

For the classic Marilyn Monroe/Jackie Onassis look check out Tura Eyewear ( or Kenmark’s Vera Wang Collection. Those who prefer the classic metallic aviator frames should look into either Carrera or Revo while wayfarer fans should enjoy Tifosi’s Swank line.

If your mother loves to be in the kitchen, Pottery Barn, Sur La Table, and Crate & Barrel have every type of cookware imaginable. The Hestan Cue Smart Cooking System ( pairs Bluetooth technology with its cooking appliances to ensure that food is cooked at the right temperature without having to stand over the stove. Russell Hobbs ( makes toasters and kettles in retro styles that remind all of us of when we were a lot younger.

Russell Hobbs electric kettle.

Moms are allowed to imbibe every now and then. Wine is believed to have cardiac benefits (the redder the better). If you want to buy American and not spend a lot of money, Dreaming Tree Cabernet Sauvignon, Woodbridge Malbec by Robert Mondavi, and Josh Cellars Pinot Noir are both recommended. Those who want a blend of red and white wines should try roses from Australia’s Kim Crawford or Italy’s Ruffino while fans of the white will enjoy Barone Fini Pinot Grigio from Italy and Clos du Bois Chardonnay from Sonoma Valley. Both Campari and and Aperol are ready-to-serve cocktails from the bottle. If mom likes aperitifs, Disaronno and Bailey’s offer plenty of choices. Bubbly buffs will love Maschio Extra Dry Prosecco and Krug Champagne. The Botanist Gin is a perfect tonic for making mimosas.

Barone Fini Pinot Grigio.

Candles are decorative, soothing, and provide soft light at night. The problem is that there is always the risk of fire or melted was ruining furniture. Flipo’s Solare line of flameless candles ( give you all of the benefits of luxury candles without any of the drawbacks.
If you prefer traditional candles that provide both light and pleasant aromas, you can choose between Chesapeake Bay Candle, Wax Candle Bar, or Buckler’s (

Chesapeake Bay candle.

Staying in shape is important for everyone. Ryka is one of the few athletic shoe companies that makes running shoes and other types of sneakers exclusively for women. Hanes makes leggings and other apparel that is designed for both at-home yoga and workouts at the gym. The aforementioned Lands’ End has a vast collection of both active wear and swimsuits.

Ryka Women's Dominion Walking Shoe.

Related to exercise is getting a good night’s sleep. Both Bedgear ( Nest Bedding ( make comfortable and durable pillows, mattresses and sheets. Nest Bedding even makes bamboo pajamas.

Streaming services as Hulu, Neflix, CBS All Access, and Amazon give mom more home entertainment options. Not only do Hulu and CBS All Access provide television programming that you can’t find on cable but they both have sizable libraries of old TV shows.

Every mother deserves pampering combined with a change of scenery. There are a number of spa resorts located within a three-hour drive of Queens. Nearby spa resorts are the Spa at Norwich Inn in Connecticut, and for those in a New York State of mind, the Emerson Spa near Woodstock and the Mohonk House in New Paltz.

The Hope Lake Lodge in the Finger Lakes town of Cortland has the Waterfalls Spa and it is located in the heart of New York State’s winery region. Nearly all of the wineries in the area are discounting their vino in May.

Hope Lake Lodge.

The success of the Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct has forced both of Connecticut’s casinos, Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun to offer better entertainment, restaurants and spas as well as deals on hotel rooms. 
Mohegan Sun has such fine dining establishments as Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse, Ballo Italian Restaurant, and Todd English’s Tuscany. A less formal but just as much fun, if not more so restaurant at Mohegan Sun is Hash House A Go Go.

If mom is a fan of pop music, the Parx Casino, located on the site of the old Philadelphia Park racetrack in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, a stone’s throw from the Philadelphia border hosts a lot of baby favorites. Among those who are the Parx concert schedule are Paul Anka, George Thorogood & the Destroyers, Foreigner, Pat Benatar, and the Steve Miller Band.

Atlantic City is making a comeback. The Hard Rock Café Casino & Resort and the Ocean Resort Casino have taken over the properties vacated by the Trump Taj Mahal and Revel, respectively. 

The late spring is an ideal time to visit Maine. Queens’ own JetBlue has frequent service to Portland where there is a thriving arts and dining scene. The Freeport Outlets, located just outside of town, is still the Mecca for retail store bargain hunters. Just a little south of Freeport is Kennebunkport which has long been a favorite getaway for the Bush family. There are a pair of charming lodging properties here: the Cape Arundel Inn & Resort right on the Atlantic while Hidden Pond is a more secluded resort that has a spa and is known for its farm-to-fork organic food on the property and freshly caught seafood just off of the premises.

Less than an hour’s drive south on I-95 from Portland is the charming city of Portsmouth, which is the largest town on New Hampshire’s 18-mile Atlantic Ocean coast. Portsmouth is known for its antiquing, craft shops, and a growing restaurant scene.
If you want to give mom a change of scenery a little farther away from these parts after Mother’s Day here are some ideas.
Raleigh, North Carolina is the mythical halfway point on I-95 between New York and Miami and the area has grown tremendously over the last decade. It’s a very walkable town as its museums, restaurants (make sure to enjoy some barbecue here), and nightlife are all near each other. The Umstead, a five-diamond resort, is located just across the city line in the suburb of Cary.

What is great about Raleigh is that you can make a lot of day or overnight trips. Wilmington, with its pristine beaches and colonial era homes, is only a 90 minute-drive southeast. Charlotte is less than three hours away while Asheville, in the Smoky Mountains, is four hours west. Mount Airy is the picturesque small town that the late actor, Andy Griffith, based his fictional locale of Mayberry for his very popular 1960s CBS televison series, “The Andy Griffith Show.” It’s two hours from Raleigh and it’s also home to some of North Carolina’s best wineries. JetBlue has flies between Raleigh and JFK.
South Florida hotels are heading into their off-season. The JW Marriott Turnberry Isle in the Aventura section of Miami-Dade County and the nearby Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Broward County both offer heavily discounted golf, spa, food and room packages compared with the December through early April peak season.
Of course when you think of South Florida you think about its gorgeous beaches. You couldn’t blame mom if she wanted to just wanted to relax on the sands of a luxury property. In the Palm Beach area, you can’t do better than the Eau Palm Beach which is located in the town of Manalapan and was previously the Ritz-Carlton. If mom is a golfer or wants to learn the game, the PGA Resort in Palm Beach Gardens is the place to be. The PGA Resort is also known for its fine restaurants. If tennis is more of her game, the Boca Raton Resort is recommended.
An alternative to staying in Miami Beach but still having easy access to it, is to try any of the fairly new resorts located five miles north on Collins Avenue in the city of Sunny Isles Beach. Not only is it quieter but it has a neighborhood feel with supermarkets, local stores, restaurants, and public transportation similar to that of Queens. If you are looking for affordable luxury the DoubleTree Ocean Point Resort and Spa in Sunny Isles has great rates and many of the rooms have washes and dryers as well as small kitchens to make you feel right at home. It is located right on Collins Avenue, Sunny Isles’ main beachfront thoroughfare.
Although it doesn’t fly into Miami International, JetBlue has very frequent service from JFK to both Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

Southern California is a great alternative to Florida and it’s generally not anywhere as humid. The Hyatt Regency La Jolla and the 101 year-old Grande Colonial in the village of La Jolla are two of San Diego’s best hotels. The Grande Colonial offers breathtaking views of the sun setting over the Pacific while the Hyatt Regency La Jolla offers easy access to many of San Diego’s best neighborhoods such as University Town Center. Its top-floor concierge level is among the best that I have experienced and its Olympic style swimming pool rivals that of any resort.

Hyatt Regency La Jolla.

San Diego’s best-known hotel is actually located just off of its coast on Coronado Island. The Hotel del Coronado was built in 1888 and is still going strong. It has kept up with the times however as it has not only a modern spa but offers spin, yoga, and other exercise classes on its beach.

Another good Southern California option is a visit to Palm Springs. A stay at the Triada Hotel will make mom feel like an old-time movie star with its bungalows and villas. The La Maison Palm Springs ( has villas that surround a beautiful courtyard swimming pool and have great rates from now through the end of fall.

Just down Highway 111 in the Coachella Valley from Palm Springs is the Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage which has many fine dining establishments and whose spa boasts of a treatment called the Desert Wildflower Poultice Massage.

Beverly Hills, as we’ve been reminded over the years through numerous films and television shows, is synonymous with wealth and good living. Hotels as the Peninsula, the Beverly Hilton, and the Montage all have restaurants and spas that are popular with the locals and offer them as parts of packages for visitors who stay at their respective properties.

The Beverly Hilton.

West Hollywood is located right next door to Beverly Hills but it’s closer to LA and hotel rooms there are far less than what you will pay in the old 90210 zip code. West Hollywood has plenty of nightlife and some of Southern California’s best restaurants. The Ramada Inn & Suites on Santa Monica Boulevard with its outdoor pool and modern rooms is certainly not your grandparents’ Ramada.

While in the Los Angeles area, be sure to spend some time in the independent city of Santa Monica. This beautiful seaside city is the western terminus for Route 66. A sign designating that fact can be found on its world famous Santa Monica Pier which is home to an amusement park, food kiosks, and yes, fishing.

Santa Monica Pier.

While Internet commerce has negatively affected brick-and-mortar retailers in a lot of cities, old school retailing is alive and well in Santa Monica thanks to its main shopping mall, Santa Monica Place, and the pedestrian-only Third Street Promenade. If mom likes high-end boutiques but hates both the pretension and touristy aspects of Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive, then she’ll certainly enjoy Santa Monica’s Montana Avenue.

Speaking of luxury, the JW Marriott and Loews have beachfront properties across the street from one another. You can also find smaller, easier-on-one’s-budget hotels a black from the beach.
Driving is always a challenge in traffic-clogged LA. The Metro Expo Light Rail, which opened in 2016, connects Santa Monica to downtown Los Angeles in around 45 minutes.

JetBlue has direct service into LAX, Long Beach, Burbank, Ontario, Palm Springs, and San Diego.

If you want to get the best bang for your buck for a vacation for mom, you can’t go wrong the Grand Palladium Resorts in Punta, Cana Dominican Republic. All meals and beverages are included in the price as is most of the other amenities. Vacations in the Dominican Republic are about half of the cost of neighboring Caribbean getaways. Just as it does with most warm weather spots in our hemisphere, JetBlue has service to Punta Cana from JFK as it does to most destinations in the Caribbean.

Of course mom can have a lot of fun just staying in our area. The Spirit of New York which docks at Chelsea Piers has a three-hour dinner cruise and cabaret entertainment has made it a popular venue for celebrations of all kinds. World Yacht, located four blocks west of Times Square at Pier 81, also has brunch and dinner cruises. Hornblower has dinner cruises that leave from Pier 40 in SoHo.

The Big Apple has no shortage of spas to help mom unwind. Red Door, Message Envy, and Oasis Day Spas offer everything from facials to massages at their various New York area locations. For a listing of the best spa deals in the area, log onto

Happy Mother’s Day to all!

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