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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Green gifts - it's not that difficult

This article was inspired by an admission by one of my long-distance friends that nobody had ever given her flowers. Having recovered from the shock from this revelation, and commiserated with my friend on the selfishness of her college campus authorities for not allowing students to plant things on campus lawns, I realized that she might not be the only one with this problem. So, allow me to leverage some of the research I did to help out my friend and inspire the rest of you to give and grow your own gardens (yes, it is possible to give one, as you will see in a moment).

Quite a few catalogs out there offer a range of gardens-in-a-bag - sets including seeds, soil and a leak-proof bag that allow you to enjoy a little bit of greenery and flowers on your desk or window sill and share it with your friends and family - all that for $7. There are the Growing Wishes gardens, herb gardens (just imagine - your own fresh herbs year-round!), flower gardens and mini tomato gardens. If you feel really brave and adventurous (or if you wish to challenge your gift recipient a little) and have a sizable window sill that would accommodate a sill box, get one of the pocket gardens - do not be afraid, they come with complete instructions, just put the seeds into the soil and water the little buggers. Edible flowers, wine lovers' set, herbal tea, gourmet salad - honestly, how can you resist?

No garden is complete without wind chimes and whirlygigs. I am not fond of most garden statuary and decor (no dwarves, or bunnies, or frogs, please!), but if it can be hung from a tree or a post, if it rings or twirls or both - I am all for it. Fortunately, I have three acres of land and lots of trees, so it would take a lot of wind chimes and spinners to make my garden look overcrowded. For those of you who are not blessed with a lot (or any) land - get a couple and hang them in your window or from the ceiling. Air flow from the central air system is enough to make the spinners twirl and wind chimes - chime, and you'll go to sleep pretending you are in a garden. And don't forget to get a few for your friends - don't hog the fun to yourself.

There are scores of artists out there who have also put together some chimes and spinners that can reflect your personality or that of the gift recipient. A wind chime in the shape of a coffee pot would work for pretty much all of your high school and college friends; the chime in the shape of a lock with keys hanging off of it is for that one person you know who constantly loses his or her keys; and the one that looks like scissors-and-iron is perfect for that old-fashioned weirdo (like me) who still irons her clothes (including pajamas) and actually knows how to use a pair of scissors, a measuring tape and that mysterious contraption called sewing machine without inflicting significant damage upon ourselves or others.

The best part? If you like the style of old-fashioned-looking wind chimes, you can find many artisans out there who make such pieces from recycled materials - real lost keys, old-fashioned locks, outdated gears, etc. Even better - you can raid that kitchen drawer and make a unique piece of garden art of your very own. You know the drawer I am talking about - there is one in every house, where you toss odd bits and pieces when you find them laying around, promise yourself to find where they came from and then forget all about them. Use them for something - less clutter for you, and you have made something out of recycled materials.

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