Wednesday, November 24, 2010

10 Things Thursday: 10 Kits

The Story Behind 10 Things Thursdays
For most of us there will be some level of gift shopping to do in the coming weeks. On each of the 10 Thursdays from October 21, up until the day before Christmas Eve, it is my goal to present 10 ideas, in 10 different themes, for eco-friendly gifting. Many suggestions will be places I know or products I've purchased or received. One hundred ideas by no means makes a comprehensive list. But it's a start. It’s a day to give thanks, so I’m posting this for after dinner viewing. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday looming, here is List 6:

10 Kits
  1. Anni Albers Jewelry. Four different kits are available, each of which is based upon an original piece from a 1941 traveling exhibition of jewelry made from common objects by designer Anni Albers and her student Alex Reed. I assembled this kit “Bobby Pin and Ball Chain” and wore it with a little black dress to a formal occasion. Hardly anyone noticed the materials; those who did had to take a very close look. There were many accolades.
  2. A Back to the Roots (BTTR) Gourmet Mushroom Garden. As seen on TV — I can’t wait to try this at home! BTTR (pronounced better) was founded in 2009 by Alex Velez and Nikhil Arora as a 100% sustainable urban mushroom farm, BTTR has transformed into a company focused on bringing sustainable grow-at-home products into households across the country. The growing medium for the kits is recycled coffee grounds collected from Peet’s Coffee & Tea, at the rate of 8,000 lbs a week. The kit comes with everything you need for your windowsill farm, including a spray mister. The description promises up to one lb of oyster mushrooms a crop, with at least two crops per kit (although some customers have had as many as four). The price of $19.95 may sound a little pricey, but if you purchase three, shipping is free. Without the cost of shipping, and with two crops, this works out to slightly less than the going rate for these beauties in the produce aisle. And you will have the thrill of growing them yourself. Alice Waters and Carson Daly are among the celebrities offering testimonials on the company site. Look for a future post after I see just how good a farmer I am.
  3. A Windowsill Garden. There are a huge number of indoor garden kits available, for herbs, flowers, and even catnip. offers an excellent selection. Before you make a purchase, you might check out this article as a guide. Or give the gift of Winter Flowers by supplying everything needed to force flowering bulbs such as Paperwhites. White Flower Farms in Litchfield, Connecticut has many offerings in a wide range of prices.
  4. Make Your Own Beer Kit. This article reviews a number of products in several price range. The name Mr. Beer (“Nothing says Holiday Cheer like Mr. Beer”) comes up in many posts. The Mr. Beer site sells every you need to get started.
  5. Paper Crafts. Make City postcards are paper crafts for grownups. Designed by Japanese designer Keisuke Saka, these models of famous city icons are sold in sets. New York City is available at the MOMA store. Others are available here.
  6. An Adirondack Furniture Kit. Everything you need to build your own Adirondack chair. There are kits for the woodworker who wants to cut, sand and drill as well as for the person who wants just to assemble and finish. Both types of kits are clearly described to help you decide which one is right for you. Only the finest mahogany or cypress is used; none of the wood is pressure-treated. (You can also buy pre-assembled, but what fun is that?) You can read many testimonials on the site.
  7. A Composter. I have one similar to the “Deluxe Pyramid.” It’s been turning kitchen scraps into black gold for over two decades now. Some assembly is required. For the more adventurous, might you consider a “Worm Chalet?” This site offers a lot of choices, but you might shop around before you buy.
  8. A Snowshoe Kit. Snowshoeing is a popular winter sport for boomers with fear of skiing. Country Ways has been providing high quality outdoor gear kits for twenty-five years. Their site offers up a tremendous amount of info on this hobby and the pros and cons of different types of gear.
  9. Anything Klutz. For the young and young at heart, Klutz offers a wide variety of kits with themes ranging from Crafts to Science and Building. Each kit is self-contained and is perfect for traveling. Klutz kits are carried in many stores, but you can also shop online where there is currently a sale going on.
  10. A Solar-Powered Attic Fan. This is a serious gift for the serious handyman, with a serious return. You can read more about the SunRise Solar-powered fan in my blog post “Cooling with the Sun,” published on 9/1/10. A purchase now could score someone a 2010 tax credit. The giftee can always hold the installation for warmer weather. No wiring required. It works. 

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