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Greening the Holidays!

Thursday, December 17, 2009:  [Click Here to See Video and Story]

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

GIVEN THINGS: The perfect present exists for the ambitious homeowner or gardener on your Christmas list

Published: Sunday, December 5, 2004, FEATURES - HOME & GARDEN 01I
By Michael Leach and Lee Stratton

Making Lists Is a Major Activity This Time of Year: Invitation Lists, To-Do Lists and Grocery Lists.

When it comes to gift lists, holiday shoppers will find bags of goodies to make home and garden more delightful, practical and secure for their loved ones.

Here are some things that caught our fancy.

POSITIVELY HANDY

* Ryobi AIRgrip Laser Level ($40). With its vacuum base, this level clings to walls, glass and tile without the use of penetrating fasteners. The beam is visible up to 30 feet and wraps around corners to ease the hanging of pictures, borders, paneling and trim.

The laser head rotates 360 degrees, and the lens pivots 90 degrees. (Home Depot and other tool and hardware dealers; 1-800-525-2579 or www.ryobitools.com)

* Black & Decker Power Tape Automatic Tape Measure ($25). It might be easier to measure twice with the tape that extends and retracts with the push of a button. The device offers one-hand operation. The device includes a belt hook and four batteries. (Hardware and home-improvement stores; 1-800-544-6986 or www.blackanddecker.com)

* Ryobi Bit Set ($40). Just about any bit for drilling wood, metal and masonry is packaged in a handy roll-up pouch. The 150-piece set includes driver blades and sockets. (Home Depot stores, 1-800-435-4654 or www.homedepot.com)

EXTRA SAFE AT HOME

* Kidde Escape Ladder ($50). This gift could be a lifesaver. The 13-foot escape ladder -- metal rungs connected by nylon web belting -- is compact enough to fit under a bed. The 13-foot model weighs 7 1/2 pounds and is tangle-free for quick and easy opening. The top secures to a standard double-hung windowsill. Twenty-five-foot versions are available for three-story homes. (Ace Hardware, Lowe's and other home-improvement centers; www.kidde.com)

* Sentry Security Chests ($20). The 17-pound box is designed to protect important papers and valuables against the flames and heat of a house fire. A $40 model is waterproof. (Wal-Mart, Home Depot and Lowe's)

* The Talking Alarm ($40). This detects smoke, fire and carbon monoxide. It emits an 85-decibel tone followed by a voice warning ''Fire, Fire'' or ''Warning! Carbon monoxide.'' Studies have found that tone alarms do not wake some children. The package includes batteries and a DVD with fire-safety information for adults and children. (Lowe's and other home-improvement centers)

NEWLY INDEBTED

* Address plaques ($58). Custom address plaques, whether of carved stone, ceramic or wood, make a good impression and direct guests to a home with elan. Among the many styles available are aluminum plaques in 18 weather-resistant colors. Markers start at $58 for an oval that's 12 inches long and about 8 inches wide. (Fortin Welding & Ironworks, 944 W. 5th Ave., 614-291-4342; or www.fortinironworks.com)

* Critter Solar Lights ($89). Sunshine powers the color-changing LEDs that illuminate a whimsical hummingbird, dragonfly and butterfly.

An unobtrusive solar pod contains a pack of rechargeable batteries (included) on an 18-inch aluminum stake. (1-800-869-3446 or www.gaiam.com)

* Perennial Garden Design Kit ($29.95). With hundreds of reusable plant symbols in a variety of colors, patterns and foliages, this kit promises to simplify planning a perennial garden. You can move plants and experiment with color and foliage without risking back strain. (1-800-862-1699 or www.e-z.net/garden)

* Playful Cat Boot Brush ($23.50). A purrfect greeting. The heavy-duty brush fibers scrape mud and debris from shoes. Just set it outside a door; no installation is required. (1-800-422-1525 or www.outdoordecor.com)

SOMEWHAT DISORGANIZED

* Your Professional Helper Ltd. ($35 to $50 hourly). Marla Jones, president of the Worthington company, said the concierge and organization service will tackle kitchen cupboards, closets, recipe books, home offices, computer files and the jumble of possessions moved into a new home. The business will shop, obtain event tickets, plan parties, put up holiday decorations, wrap gifts and send holiday cards for customers. Gift certificates are available. (614-889-4712 or www.yphltd.com)

* Portable Project Armoire ($398). Don't let gift-wrapping, scrapbooking or other hobbies clutter a room. The compact 32 1/4 -by-20-inch cabinet from the Levenger catalog contains six drawers for files and materials and a storage well with notched shelves to hold large items or rolls of wrapping paper. A pull-out shelf adds 15 inches of work space. The unit is available in a natural or dark-cherry veneer finish. (1-800-544-0880 or www.levenger.com)

Sauder furniture offers similar concepts in various sizes ($173 to $409). Dealers include Just About Furniture and most discount and home-improvement stores. (www.sauder.com)

* Kamenstein Magnetic Organizer ($29). The stainless-steel unit is designed to contain small-but-needed items that clutter desks and kitchen drawers.

Nine 2-inch-deep containers are held by magnets to the 14-by-9-inch tray. The containers have clear lids to keep the contents visible. Easel legs are mounted on the back of the tray to prop it up on a desktop, workbench or counter. The unit can be mounted on a wall. (Lowe's, kitchen-supply and general merchandise stores)

Only a little dirty

* Gardening magazines ($20 to $35). These publications provide novices and seasoned growers alike with inspiration and sound advice.

Horticulture, which is celebrating its first 100 years, is published six times a year, with articles on landscaping and specific types of flowers. A one-year gift subscription costs $19.95. (1-877-860-9146 or www.hortmag.com)

The American Gardener is a bimonthly publication describing opportunities for beautiful, environmentally sensitive gardening. The magazine is a benefit of membership in the American Horticultural Society. Annual dues are $35.

(1-800-777-7931 or www.ahs.org)

Fine Gardening, another bimonthly, offers articles by amateur gardeners, landscape architects and garden designers. An annual subscription is $29.95. (1-800-888-8286 or www.taunton. com/finegardening)

* Deep Digger Trowels ($24). A good trowel makes the job easier. Add color and clout with these tools, which come in 6-, 7- and 8-inch blade sizes and a choice of rose, blue and teal. The trowels are handcrafted, all-welded steel with a tapered cutting edge that allows it to cut into soil with ease. (1-800-763-9929 or www.garden-trowel.com)

* Bionic Garden Glove ($40). Ergonomically designed by a hand surgeon, these gloves are padded to reduce fatigue and calluses while increasing grip strength. It has been recommended for use by the Arthritis Foundation. Made of machine-washable leather, the gloves have a form-fitting wrist closure to keep debris out. (1-877-524-6642 or www.bionicgloves.com)

Knee deep in mud

* Garden Caddy ($129). Think golf bag wrapped in tool belt; instead of clubs, load shovels, rakes and other long-handled gear. Fill the tool-belt pockets with pruners, trowels and other hand tools. (1-800-776-3336 or www.smithandhawken.com or the Columbus store, 4015 Townsfair Way, Easton)

* Spreadable Trellises ($16 to $33). These wire pyramids adopt different profiles depending on how far apart their four flexible stakes are spread. Made of powder-coated steel to deter rust, the legs can be adjusted without permanent deformation. The smallest measures 4 feet 10 inches high and the largest 6 feet 5 inches tall. Choose between an orb or a fleur-de-lis

finial. (1-800-776-3336 or www.smithandhawken.com or the Columbus store, 4015 Townsfair Way, Easton)

* Franklin Park Conservatory memberships ($25 to $45). Anyone who loves gardens will enjoy a stroll through the varied environments of the conservatory, where they can pick up ideas to take home or simply spend a moment relaxing. Membership, as they say, has its privileges, with access to rotating displays and exhibits, including "Chapungu: Stories in Stone.'' (614-645-1883 or www.fpconservatory.org)

Properly sized for kids

* Kid's Gardening Journal ($3.95). Created by the National Gardening Association at the request of teachers, the journal offers a place for horticultural observations. Kids can chart plant growth, record weather, write essays, draw pictures and more on 24 pages of unlined paper. (1-800-538-7476 or www.kidsgardening.com)

* Kid's Tools ($44.95). These tools are downsized for gardeners ages 4 to 10. The six-piece tool collection includes one shovel, hoe, steel rake, leaf rake, hand trowel and hand cultivator. (1-800-538-7476 or www.kidsgardening.com)

* Life Cycle of Butterflies ($22.95). This observation kit includes a pop-up butterfly observation habitat, a dropper, an instruction guide and a coupon for three to five painted lady butterfly caterpillars. (1-800-538-7476 or www.kidsgardening.com)

Comfortably for the birds

* Cozy Spa Pedestal Bath ($149.95). With its classic lines, this gray resin birdbath will adapt to most garden styles and stay ice-free thanks to the electric heater and thermostat sealed in the basin. Run an extension cord up the pedestal and connect to the plug embedded beneath the basin. The pedestal is 23 inches tall; the basin is 17 1/2 inches wide and 1 1/2 inches deep. It comes with a three-year warranty. (1-800-593-5656 or www.duncraft.com)

* Bird treats ($14). Add a touch of holiday cheer to backyard bird feeding with a seed-studded wreath. (Bird-feeding specialty stores)

* Bird feeder ($90). Feeders come in an array of styles, sizes, colors and prices, starting at a few dollars for a simple plastic tube.

One that offers beautiful resistance to pesky squirrels is the Royal Masterpiece. The decorative frame screens out most squirrels while allowing birds to dine. The 14 -inch-tall feeder holds about 1 pounds of seed. (Bird-feeding specialty stores or www.duncraft.com)

mleach@dispatch.com

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH


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