Get hands on for Mother's Day with these tips


Traditionally, Mother's Day is a day set aside for honoring mothers for their hard work, dedication and nurturing.

In doing so, consumers spent more than $20 billion on their moms last year, with jewelry being the most popular gift, accounting for $4.2 billion of the dollars spent, according to the National Retail Federation. On average, Americans spent $168 on their mothers, with 14 percent of them spending even more to buy electronics such as iPads.

But Mother's Day -- which by the way, is next Sunday, so don't panic -- does not have to be expensive to be sincere. Homemade cards, bookmarks and trinkets from the children still bring a tear to many mothers' eyes.

And more sophisticated projects such as a homemade breakfast-in-bed, herbal spa treatments and hand-crafted flower pots are all manageable by both children and adults, with the help of some local crafters.

Atalanta Sunguroff of Wake Robin Botanicals, a small herbal apothecary and farm in Cheshire, suggests using ingredients from your own kitchen or gardens to make spa treatments, such as sugar scrubs, massage oils and herbal bath treatments. Children love to get involved in picking herbs or flowers for the treatments and mixing the concoctions, Sunguroff said.

All are remarkably less expensive than the $1.5 billion consumers spent sending their mothers to the spa last year. More importantly, each can be made with mom's personal preferences in mind.

At Wake Robin, all ingredients are organically grown by Sunguroff, who obtains whatever ingredients she does not harvest herself from other organic, sustainably harvested and local sources, when possible.

In addition to homemade spa treatments, Sunguroff suggested potted plants, or potted herb gardens for Mother's Day, which can be detoxifying after a long, cold winter. Children enjoy getting into the act of planting seeds, she added.

She suggested using a galvanized steel tub, available at animal feed stores, filling the bottom with rocks and topped with quality soil. Rosemary, thyme and sage are always popular, Sunguroff said. But mom might also enjoy some herbs for tea, like calendula or sacred basil, she added.

More information about Sunguroff's products can be found on her website or facebook page:,

If you are considering giving mom flowers or a potted plant this year, Pittsfield artist Diane Firtell suggests decorating your own flower pot. Yesterday, Firtell offered a workshop, through the Alchemy Initiative, on decorating flower pots with collage.

All you need is a terra cotta pot of any size, polyurethane, acrylic paint, glue, some of your favorite images -- either printed on paper or cut out of magazines -- and about two hours of time.

Firtell begins with putting three layers of polyurethane on the inside of the flower pot, allowing each layer to dry before applying the next. This keeps water from seeping through the pot once it is filled with soil.

The pots can be also be painted on the outside before images are applied, or they can be left natural. Firtell then begins layering her images around the pot, allowing them to overlap some in order to keep the paper straight on the bottom of the pot.

Once the images have been glued in place using Mod Podge, Firtell then suggests applying three coats of Miniwax polycrylic protective finish, allowing each to dry for 5 to 8 minutes before applying the next.

Firtell, who also designs her own jewelry, also uses an image transfer technique to create her artwork. Her work can be seen at her NUarts Studio, 311 North Street, during First Friday Artswalk, every first Friday of the month, from 5 to 8 p.m. She will be at the Saturday opening of the weekly Downtown Pittsfield Farmer's Market.

For those looking to surprise mom with homemade breakfast-in-bed, Jessica Lamb, owner of Dottie's Coffee Lounge on North Street, will be conducting a chef's demonstration, making guacamole, at the Farmer's Market on opening day. The market runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on First Street, across from the Pittsfield Commons and is open for 25 consecutive Saturdays.

Among Lamb's recipe suggestions is a Yogi Bowl -- she said Dottie's serves every day to customers' praise -- which requires no cooking. Children can easily help create the yogurt-based treat.

The Farmer's Market is also a great place to pick up other Mother's Day essentials: ingredients for a home-cooked meal, hanging flower baskets, potted plants and other crafts by some of the 25 local vendors expected each week, said Jessica Conzo, market manager for the farmer's market.

Conzo is also the director and co-founder of the Alchemy Initiative, which began in 2009 and as means of educating the community through sustainability and creativity. Artists who belong to the initiative, such as Lamb, Firtell and Sunguroff, offer workshops and participate in independent craft fairs. Members of the initiative also launched the farmer's market last year. For more information, visit


Show mom how much you care and show off your little chef-to-be's cooking skills with this easy, one step breakfast bowl of local goodness that is sure to put a smile on mom's face first thing Mother's Day morning.

Jessica Lamb's Yogi Bowl

3/4 cup of Farm fresh yogurt

A hand full of smashed black berries (great job for kids)

1/4 of a ripe avocado, cut into thin strip

1/4 c of raw quick cooking oats

2 tablespoons of local real maple syrup -- Lamb prefers Ioka Valley's

To make: Combine all ingredients and serve.

Spa day at home

Give mom one of these home spa treaments created by Atalanta Sunguroff, of Wake Robin Botanicals.

Lavender Sea Salt Bath

1 cup sea salt

1 Tbs. Lavender flowers

1 Tbs. Sesame seed

Olive or sunflower oil

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl, then put in a glass jar and label. Contains enough for 2 baths.

Rosemary Lavender Sugar Body Scrub

1 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup sesame seed or olive oil

1 Tbs. rosemary leaves

15 drop essential oil (lemon or lavender)

Combine all ingredients together in a bowl, then put in a glass jar and label. Contains enough for two to five baths. Gently massage small amounts of the mixture into skin before taking a shower. Leave on for a few minutes, then rinse. Next, gently rub body with wet wash cloth. This is a great way to detoxify in the spring. Make sure to add on the label to Be Careful in the bath that you don't slip, since it contains oil.

Violet Massage Oil

Olive oil,

Fresh wilted violet leaves


Harvest the violet leaves that are starting to come up around now (from a place that is not near a road or chemical spraying.) Lay the leaves on a cloth overnight so that they wilt a bit. (Violets contain a lot of water.)

Place the violet leaves in a clean dry glass jar, untill they are about two inches from the top. Pour olive oil over the leaves until it is one inch above the violet leaves and one inch from the top. Put on lid.

Find a nice sunny spot to place the jar. The sun will now do most of the work. Just try and shake the jar daily for two weeks. This helps to move the infusing oil around, as well as put intention into the medicine you are making! Strain, put in a bottle and label.

Violet infused oil is a great massage oil. It is a wonderful lymphatic mover, which is perfect for this time of year as we start detoxifying our bodies. It is also deeply nourishing to dry skin.


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