Eclipse Chocolate bars
Mother's Day may have relatively shallow historical roots, but there's no denying that in most of our cases, our moms deserve some extra attention once a year. This town is hopping with petite boutiques chock-full of perfect mom gifts, many of which I've already mentioned in previous columns: North Park's Pigment for jewelry and plant-filled “eco-orbs”; Downtown's Hessian Global Goods for unique and worldly baskets, baubles and bangles, plus awesome coffee accoutrements; Seaport Village's Urban Girl Accessories for fun and funny gifts that pack a punchline; and Solana Beach's Solo for letterpress paper goods, the coolest cookbooks and tchotchkes galore. Most moms do like tchotchkes.
But how about some fresh ideas? There's no better gift for most any occasion (OK, maybe not a bris) than a super-cool staghorn fern. And the folks at Exotic Gardens (2212 El Cajon Blvd. in North Park, 619-497-0860) have 'em mounted on cool scraps of wood and priced to give. For $25 to $40, you can pick up a decent-size stag to hang on a patio wall or in a backyard. Exotic Gardens has other goodies like the wacky “baby toes” succulents, the evil-looking jacunda aloe or the ferociously phallic mammillaria matadae cactus with its ring of tiny pink flowers at the tip. There are also beautiful Seussian-looking plants here that cost only a couple bucks.
If you have a good arm, you could throw a baseball from Exotic Gardens to another must-do mom-gift emporium, Eclipse Chocolat (2121 El Cajon Blvd. in North Park, www.eclipsechocolat.com). It's a coffee-and-tea (and beer and wine) bar with desserts and cheese plates, but it sells vegan-friendly, exotically spiced house-made chocolate, all flavors, all the time. Would Mom like matcha green tea-infused white chocolate with candied ginger and brown rice? Or sage-infused dark chocolate flecked with blackberry bits? You can pick up six mini bars for $15, or the better deal, but with less diversity: three full-size bars for the same price. Either way, that's a reasonably priced and delectably sweet prezzie.
While I think it may be a myth, apparently the majority of moms like tea. Mine doesn't, but that hasn't stopped me from using this month's holiday as an excuse for checking out Halcyon Tea in South Park (3009 Beech St., www.halcyontea.com). It's an ultra-modern yet comfortable space, and it smells super-swell inside. New teas are scrawled on the chalkboard and it carries the beautiful Bee House teapots from Colorado and the mod Stump Teapot by For Life. Ah, forget Mother's Day, this stop was really about me and the organic Chamomile.
According to the circulars in the Sunday papers, moms like vases. And frames. And candles. And ceramic statues. You can get those things at the mall, but that wouldn't be supporting local stores—and the stuff probably is mass-produced in China no less, not to mention fugs. For funky, cute, newspaper-sanctioned mom stuff, you've got to try Side Dishes (3841 Park Blvd. in Hillcrest). It's an awkward location, near a bust stop and The Crypt, and parking can be a bitch, but the goods are gorgeous: Ceramic birds that wouldn't look out of place in my house—or my mom's—despite our wildly different tastes; vases that are both modern and delicately pretty. My favorite and, frankly, the most appropriate for such a holiday, might be the Sweet Children series by illustrator M.L. Chiratorn Chirapravati. The wacky illustrations aren't exactly sweet, but they are of children. Plus there are smelly candles, tiny teacups and other design-y things that really have only one purpose—to be given.
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