One Mother’s Day, my father had a vacuum cleaner system installed throughout our house. He gave his wife the coiled plastic vacuum tubing encased in a blue floral fabric.
My poor Mom. Around the same time, I bought her a garage sale ashtray. She despised cigarette smoke, but I was a child distracted by a sparkly blue dish.
At least my father and I shared one good idea: Present Mom with a gift for the home. Nevertheless, there are smarter choices when recognizing Mom and home as the heart of family.
“It’s a wrong gift when you call and say you’re coming over and they hurry to get it out of a drawer,” said Green with Envy co-owner Tina Nardoci, speaking about the many gifts that become missed opportunities for showing appreciation and affection.
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The best gifts show you understand what matters to someone. If that’s reaching too far, choose something fun or that adds convenience. Here are a few options for home and garden.
For the cook
A mom who loves to cook and has an equal interest in protecting the land may appreciate an Antique Organ Pipe Knife Holder. Pipe organs from Philadelphia-area churches have been reclaimed to create 14- to 18-inch wood strips with magnets for keeping knives handy. $85 at bambeco.com.
For the herbalist
Many cooks consider herbs and produce from the garden among their most valuable tools for flavorful meals. It helps to have ways to manage the garden’s abundance at harvest time. An Herb Drying Rack can help minimizes waste by creating a place to preserve provisions that won’t be used immediately. Hang herbs, peppers, garlic or other items from the 15-inch-diameter steel ring. Once those items have dried, store them in containers to make room for the next harvest. $19.95 at gardeners.com.
For the hostess
Technology is finding its way into every part of the home, and that’s an exciting idea for many people. If you’re shopping for someone who looks for new ways to put an Apple smartphone or tablet to work, consider Perfect Drink. It uses an app and a scale to help you mix ingredients and make adjustments if you pour too much. The app also uses virtual displays to measure liquid ingredients as you pour. The app has hundreds of drink recipes and suggestions for using ingredients that you’ve already got on hand. You can also use it to save your own recipes. $69.99 at brookstone.com.
For the environmentalist
Composting can turn biodegradable kitchen scraps into rich, organic matter for garden beds. To make compost, you need a place to store kitchen waste. A Metal Herb Compost Bucket, available in a variety of styles, holds those scraps without detracting from its surroundings. A vintage-inspired Herbs de Provence design is well-suited for a French Country kitchen, while the bright red tomato can with a vintage label would fit in more colorful rooms. The 5-liter containers have ventilated lids, one charcoal filter and carrying handles. $29.99 at worldmarket.com.
For the gardener
Homes and gardens come in all sizes and configurations. When a traditional garden is not an option – or an aspiration – there are alternatives. A Balcony Railing Planter can be used to create a container garden or expand an existing one for growing herbs, flowers or other plants. This planter is self-watering for less maintenance. $39.95 at gardeners.com.
For the nature lover
A landscape becomes more welcoming to wildlife when it includes elements that urban creatures need for survival. For birds, the necessities include fresh water and nesting places for birds. Roosting Pockets can add rustic charm that is less conspicuous. Woven from natural raffia, these handmade havens are suitable for small birds. Three 7-inch huts in different shapes sell for $19.95 at duncraft.com.
Growing plants indoors can improve humidity levels and air quality. Plants also can give us a feeling of well-being and bring in a type of beauty that only living things offer. For those who prefer small-scale growing, the ancient art of bonsai might be worth considering. Bambeco offers three varieties. The Redwood Trees can grow to 2-3 feet over a three-year period. The tree, moss seed, bonsai scissors, rake and a recycled steel box are included. $49 at bambeco.com.