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'Burghy Gift Guide: Mother's Day

Don't even think about Bed Bath & Beyond. Get mom something amazing and Pittsburgh-inspired this year.


Moms. They drive you nuts and they make you roll your eyes. I know this because I’m a mom, and as such I’m an expert at driving my kids nuts and making them roll their eyes. (“But, Mmmmoooo-OOOOOOO-mmm!”)

Moms love to neb. They love to nag. They scan you quizzically and ask, “Is that what you’re wearing?” when they can see very well that it is indeed the clothing you chose to put on your person. (Love you, Mom!)

But the second you try to imagine your life without her, that’s when you really appreciate Mom. With Mother’s Day around the corner, don’t run into Target to buy the first China-made “#1 Mom” mug you see. She deserves better. Put some thought into it. Buy local. Buy unique. Buy one-of-a kind. Buy her an experience. Buy ’Burghy!

Here are a few ’Burgh-inspired gift ideas to get you started:

Beads for Life

If the mom in your life appreciates the big picture, and helping those in need, then you’ll want to snag one of these beautiful Beads for Life bracelets from local crafter Designs by Samantha. The three or five-strand bracelets feature beads made in Uganda in order to help eradicate poverty. You can order online at Etsy or check her stuff out at Boutique 208 downtown.

($35-$45 at Etsy.com)

East End Brewing Growlers

As a mom, let me take this time to clear up a very important misconception. Guess what? Moms like beer, too. And if your mom has developed an appreciation for small-batch craft brews like I have, then fill up a few East End Brewing growlers with some of the freshest beers you can find in Pittsburgh. The half-gallon bottle is only $3, and the friendly East End brewers will fill it with her favorite craft beer for $10 and up. As they say on their website: The cap? Free! True pros will pair the growlers with a gift card to beer-heaven Bocktown.

($13 and up at East End Brewing)

Zotter the Potter Wine Bottle Cooler

As a mom, I can also confirm for you that moms really, really like their wine. If the mom in your life has been known to drink wine out of everything from a red SOLO cup to a sippy cup, then how about getting her this gorgeous customized wine bottle cooler from local company Zotter the Potter? You can go with the grapes design, but why not show mom your love by pairing the heart design with the family name instead? When not using it as an awesome wine goblet, who says she can’t plop it next to her stove to hold her kitchen utensils? Or give it a place on the fireplace mantle? NO ONE. Present it to her with her favorite wine inside and a gift card to BYOB restaurant Piccolo Forno in Lawrenceville.

($64.95 at ZotterthePotter.com)

Paint Monkey Studio Classes

If your Mom has a love for art, crafting (and yes) wine, then you might want to send her to a BYOB class at Paint Monkey studio in Lawrenceville. There, you and mom can make your own Starry Night or Georgia O’Keeffe masterpiece under the direction of the studio’s teachers. Other classes include Picasso, vintage Marilyn Monroe and a stunning Kandinsky that would look perfect in your mom’s hallway. I’m particularly in love with the idea of painting the Pittsburgh skyline all by myself, but I’m pretty sure it would end up looking like the “after” picture in an “Armageddon” Wikipedia entry. Classes are $35, and as I said, BYOB(oW), which in my case means “Bring Your Own Box of Wine.” Classy.

($35 per class at beapaintmonkey.com)

Sinful Sweets Chocolate Combo

Not only does Christopher George’s Sinful Sweets Chocolate Company have a caramel milk chocolate apple topped with bacon — did you just die? I just died — but the online store and brick-and-mortar shop (901 Penn Avenue; downtown) is filled with every combination of locally-made chocolatey deliciousness you can imagine. Mom will probably flip over a basket of their goodies. Get her the decadent “Breakfast in Bed” combo ($14.95) or Champagne Truffles ($30.95) and pair it with a bottle of champagne just for her. Be sure to throw in one or two of their new Pittsburgh Icon Chocolate Bars ($5.50 each), which are named and themed after local greats such as Andy Warhol and Myron Cope. But you’ll need to call ahead for those, because they haven’t yet hit the shelves. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to call ahead no matter what, because the shop sells out of certain chocolates faster than you can say “maple brown sea salt caramels.” I just died again.

($5-31 at sinfulsweetsonline.com)

Run PGH Shorts

If Mom is a runner, here’s a gift you can snag for her that will have her jogging the neighborhood with ’Burghy swagger. But to get them, you’ll need to put in a little effort by heading to the FREE Pittsburgh Marathon Expo at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on May 3-4. Visit Fresh Factory’s booth (#527) to snag your fit mom a pair of these limited edition “Run PGH” shorts. These vintage track shorts are 100% combed cotton. Comfy! They’ll be available for $25 in a variety of sizes, but you’ll need to grab them early, because when they’re gone, they’re gone.

($25; Visit myfreshfactory.com for more designs)

Simple Sugars Body Scrubs

Who needs to be pampered more desperately than a busy mom? Nobody. But eschew the mass-produced national brands of body scrubs in favor of the locally-made Simple Sugars line. Available online (and, yes, I’ve even spied them at Giant Eagle), the line is the brainchild of local teen Lani Lazzari, who recently appeared on the ABC show “Shark Tank.” Get mom a combination basket with the Green Tea Facial Scrub, an Almond Body Scrub, a Peppermint Foot Scrub, and throw in a few locally-sourced scented candles for good measure.

($12.95 to $16.95 at simplesugars.myshopify.com Ready made gift packages are available as well!)

Pittsburgh-Inspired Jewelry

Jewelry designer Audra Azoury has taken some of the most iconic of Pittsburgh structures and turned them into gorgeous pieces that mom can wear on casual days and date nights. The line includes earrings, bracelets and necklaces featuring everything from inclines to bridges to the Cathedral of Learning (perfect for a Pitt alum). You’ll even find the smokestacks, Point Fountain and Heinz Field represented. If you have trouble deciding, go with the Open and Airy Charm Bracelet, which you can customize with your favorite Pittsburgh charms.

($60 for the bracelet with one charm at audraazoury.com. Additional charms $25 each.)

Pirates iPhone Case

Lots of moms out there are diehard Pirates fans (just like me!) So what better way for mom to show off her love for the team (and her impeccable sense of style) than with this gorgeous argyle-print, Pirates-branded snap-on iPhone case? You’ll find it for the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 5.

($30-32 at Amazon and Fanatics)

Confluence Necklace

The rivers of Pittsburgh take center stage in this amazing necklace from Aminimal Studio’s Urban Gridded line. An intricate, miniature stainless steel map of the confluence is an understated way for your mom to show her love for the city, and for you to show your love for her.

($40 at Aminimal. Matching earrings are available.)

Urban Stitches Sewing Classes

Gone are the days when every Mom could sew, but what Mom wouldn’t love to learn to sew her very own bag or wristlet in the fabric of her choosing? She can do just that if you gift her a class at Urban Stitches in Monroeville, where seamstress Tameka Reed conducts classes for everyone from novice to advanced seamstresses. Get mom a spot in Tameka’s upcoming two-part Reversible Bag and Wristlet session. No experience is required for that session, and Mom will walk away with something none of her friends will own. Classes are small (no more than eight people), which ensures mom some one-on-one time with the seamstress if she needs help. The studio is located on the second floor of the Presidential Village plaza in Monroeville.

(Two 2-hour sessions for $50.00 at urbanstitchespittsburgh.wordpress.com)

Oh, and don’t forget the best gift of all. Give your mom a hug. She deserves it.

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