Nature Abhors a Vacuum, But Not a Good Spring Cleaning

Recently, we suggested several unique gifts to help simplify your indoor spring cleaning. Today, we have a number of unique gift ideas to make outdoor clean-up less of a chore, too.

After the late-winter snows that blanketed much of the nation, your garden, patio, lawn and other exterior areas are more than ready for a spring clean-up. Don’t dread the task: think of it as a way to get longed-for time outdoors. Here, we’ll help make it easier:

Let’s start with this electric power washer – it cleaned more effectively and was the easiest to use in side-by-side tests conducted by The Hammacher Schlemmer Institute. In comparison tests, The Best model removed the most paint from a cement brick, scoured mud from a car rim in only 22 seconds, and cleaned dirt and mold from aluminum siding faster than all other units. Analysts also deemed this power washer the simplest model to use among all tested. 

Imagine how quickly you could clean winter’s grime from your driveway, pool deck, tennis court or garage floor with this extra wide water broom. Seven threaded brass nozzles maintain strong, uniform spray at a constant height for even water distribution. It washes away dirt across a 3′ wide swath, while using only 1/10th the water of a standard garden hose. The swivel rubber casters make it easy to maneuver. 

Out in the yard, bushes and hedgerows are primed for a pruning. This cordless hedge trimmer lets you shape hedges up to 10′ tall while you stand safely on the ground. The shaft adjusts telescopically and locks in place at any length up to 10′ long and the head tilts 135° for easy trimming of hedges of nearly any shape or size. Its rechargeable lithium-ion battery eliminates the hassle of running extension cords.

If you still need incentive to get your home’s exterior spiffed up for the season, just remember it’s the first impression visitors get. So it behooves you to clean the cobwebs, wash the windows, touch up the trim, and prune the plants. Then you’ll be ready to enjoy nature’s unique gifts of spring.

Spring Cleaning Needn’t Be a Chore

At long last, today we mark the first full day of spring! We are prone to favor the unique gifts of this season and have been counting down the days for several weeks now.

As much as spring is welcomed, it brings on two less-welcomed inevitabilities: taxes and the need for a good spring cleaning, both indoors and out. We can’t assist you on the tax front, but we do have several unique gifts designed to help simplify a deep spring cleaning.

This lightweight backpack vacuum, a Hammacher Schlemmer exclusive, turns a physically demanding chore into an activity as effortless as walking. Unlike heavy and awkward traditional vacuums, the backpack vacuum’s compact 10-lb. canister stays flush against the user’s body and its hose can be switched for left- or right-hand use. A four-stage HEPA filter removes springtime allergens, too.

This steam mop sanitizes floors yet leaves them dry and ready to walk on seconds after cleaning. Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, the mop has a powerful 1,200-watt pressurized boiler that emits a dry steam to kill germs and bacteria, and remove dirt…and it evaporates in seconds. An included attachment cleans and deodorizes carpets, too.

As the weather changes, creepy-crawlies might find their way into your home. Here’s the perfect unique gift for arachnophobes: The Best Bug Vacuum. This handheld cordless vacuum earned The Best rating from The Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because it captured the most bugs in the shortest time and was easiest to handle. Its powerful motor generates nearly five times more airflow than lesser vacuums to draw in flies, bees, spiders, and other insects while keeping them at arm’s length and killing them instantly.

Once you’ve finished cleaning the inside of your home, don’t neglect the yard, decks, and patios outside. Next time, we’ll tell you about some unique gifts to will help you get your outdoor areas ready for the warm days ahead.

No Joke: Laugh Your Way to Better Health

This Sunday is National Let’s Laugh Day, a celebration of the unique gifts and healing powers of laughter.

Truly, laughter is the best medicine, one with no negative side effects—although it is contagious. Studies have shown laughter relieves tension, aids relaxation, and boosts the immune system. It can lower blood pressure and even work your abs!

We all could stand to laugh more…so with whimsy in mind, we have some unique gift ideas designed to elicit laughter from anyone who sees or uses them.

These unusual wine glasses sport bent stems to set a relaxed, lighthearted mood at the beginning of a gathering or as a surreptitious stemware switch after guests are about to start on their second Syrah. Each glass sits atop a wide, sturdy base that holds wine securely, despite an impaired appearance. The glasses are hand-blown into vessels with some stems that bend a bit more than others or bowls that tilt at a different angle, supporting the adage that wine affects everyone—and every glass—differently.

This Whac-A-Mole game can be personalized to replace the standard mole heads with molded caricatures using pictures of members of your family, past managers, boyfriends/girlfriends, or any desired combination of personalities. The game operates exactly like those found in amusement parks and carnivals—five mole heads pop up randomly while you attempt to bash each with a mallet for points. The game sits within a walnut veneer cabinet that assumes the form of a bookshelf. 

Here’s another arcade game-inspired source of mirth. This remote-controlled vehicle brings to life the Mario Kart game by racing Donkey Kong against his nemesis Mario. Reenacting their competitions in the Mushroom Kingdom, this beloved monster can reach speeds of more than 13 mph in his detailed cart that you control with a joystick. This armored turtle leans into turns to conserve speed while real pneumatic tires and front and rear suspension ensure precise handling. Fun and laughs for all!

Laughter increases your general sense of well-being. Research has found people with a positive outlook fight diseases better and experience less chronic pain. So, on National Let’s Laugh Day—and every day—strive to smile, laugh and live a better life. We can’t think of a better unique gift than that.

Who Will Be Cinderella at the Dance?

It’s mid-March…and time for the biggest hoop dreams of the year: the NCAA Division I Basketball Championship Tournament. The first games begin today in Dayton, OH. This morning, every bracket is perfect and every team, like Cinderella, has hopes and dreams of dancing till the end.

How will you cope with the madness till the final game on April 3? We suggest you indulge your basketball jones with a few unique gifts.

Keep beverages for watching the game close to your favorite chair while supporting your favorite team. This portable and foldable cooler is emblazoned with the NCAA team logo of your choice. The sturdy hexagonally shaped cooler holds one and a half dozen 12 oz. cans, while a waterproof liner secures melting ice. A padded lid fits over the top to serve as a comfortable seat or a place to rest your feet.

Work off tension between halves with this indoor basketball net that returns made baskets to the shooter during a timed, rapid-fire shoot-out. A motorized chute under the netting automatically passes made baskets back to the shooter who can reload and take another shot. The chute swivels 180°, so you can set the direction of the ball return to a sweet spot or to an area of the room you need to work on.

When you’re ready to get outdoors and jam the ball, here’s a hoop that withstands 1,000 pounds of force. Unlike other adjustable basketball hoops that put excessive force on the backboard, this superior model has a steel beam that absorbs the force from tomahawk dunks and two-handed alley-oops. The regulation-sized backboard is made from thick tempered glass for true bank shots and rebounds, while torsion bars on the bottom of the backboard prevent sway. If there are young athletes in your house who fancy themselves to be the next Michael Jordan or LeBron James, this is a great unique gift for them.

But if all these unique gifts for basketball are not your thing, hang in there…baseball season is right around the corner.

Does Anyone Know What Time It Is?

You might hear that phrase uttered this weekend as most of the U.S. turns our clocks ahead for Daylight Saving Time. While some folks may lament the loss of an hour of sleep, we welcome the unique gifts that come from an extra hour of evening light.

Admittedly, there will be several minutes spent adjusting the time on the microwave, the automatic coffee maker, and other household clocks that don’t adjust on their own. This oversized wall clock maintains its own unerring accuracy from the radio atomic clock transmitter in Fort Collins, Colorado. It’s even weather-resistant for use outdoors and lighted to help its visibility in low-light conditions.

As we age, it can become more difficult to see the time on a watch in any lighting. This talking analog watch ranked highest in evaluations by the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute. Unlike lesser models that were inaudible or malfunctioned, this model announces the time distinctly in a clear male voice, ideal for those who find it difficult or inconvenient (such as when driving) to look at a watch. To ensure accuracy, the watch automatically synchronizes nightly with the atomic clock in Ft. Collins. It makes a great unique gift for anyone with decreased vision from macular degeneration or other eye problems.

For a timepiece that is also a conversation piece, this perpetual motion clock is expertly crafted with 16 hours of painstaking detail from rhodium- and 14k gold-plated brass, stainless steel, and anodized aluminum components. It replaces a clock’s hands with 27 balls that mark the hour, every 10th minute, and each minute. A complex network of gears are set into seeming perpetual motion by a brass drive wheel that appears to rotate in defiance of the laws of physics. It’s a beautiful unique gift worthy of the centerpiece position on a mantle or side table.

Although Daylight Saving Time was first conceived by Ben Franklin in 1784, the practice had some stops and starts until 1966 when the Uniform Time Act established a consistent system. As the days grow long and bright this spring, make the most of this unique gift and enjoy your lighter evenings.

Caffeine Aside, Coffee Has Many Perks

March is National Caffeine Awareness Month. For certain, if we don’t get our daily dose of caffeine, we’re VERY aware of that.

The month was created by a non-profit organization to generate interest in caffeine-free alternatives to get the blood moving, such as exercise, fruit smoothies, and herbal tea, but to us it seems appropriate to embrace the unique gifts of caffeine and celebrate the beneficial effects some research has found. Coffee is loaded with anti-oxidants and studies have shown moderate coffee consumption can help lower the risk of Type II Diabetes, certain types of cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. It may even speed up metabolism enough to help burn fat.

And caffeine can certainly help elevate one’s mood, particularly when you make it with a machine as beautiful as this commercial-grade dual espresso maker from Italy. The internal brewing mechanism has an advanced microprocessor, while a built-in water softener ensures the best cup of espresso possible. Touchpad controls allow four different coffee dosage selections for different brew strengths, giving you complete control over the level of your caffeine intake.

Another great unique gift for coffee drinkers is this coffee brewer which can be entirely controlled via a smartphone. Coffee connoisseurs can make java remotely from Java (or anywhere else in the world) using WiFi and a free app to program its start time and create custom profiles for brews with consistent richness, temperature, and volume. Its pulse-brewing system releases water in intermittent waves to thoroughly extract flavor from the grounds and produce a robust coffee without unpleasant bitterness.

Finally, you’ll need a superior way to take that superior cup of joe along with you. After comparison tests by the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute, this commuter cup proved to be The Best for the fifth consecutive year because it is easy to drink from and does not leak, even when inverted. The spill-proof lid springs open with the touch of a button and a safety lock prevents spills when the cup is carried in a briefcase or purse.

Weather the Wetter Weather Better

This past Wednesday, meteorological Spring began, although the official first day of the season is not until March 20. We’re happy to start enjoying now all the unique gifts of the season: increasing warmth, longer days, budding flowers…and frequent showers.

Plan ahead and you’ll find rain is no problem—we have some great suggestions to help you maintain dryness in wetter weather.

Compact enough to carry in a purse or pocket, this is the smallest umbrella available that opens with the push of a button. Available exclusively from Hammacher Schlemmer, the umbrella is only 8″ long when closed and instantly deploys its generous 40″ diameter canopy at the press of a button on its handle. A second press of the button collapses the canopy, so you can then manually retract the shaft.

For wind-resistant protection in a storm, this packable auto-open umbrella defies gusts up to 35 mph. A patented overlapping vent system disperses wind through reinforced slits in the nylon canopy to eliminate inversion while shielding you from the driving rain. With pinchless runners, corrosion-resistant fiberglass ribs and spreaders, and a nylon storage sleeve, this is an umbrella that will last for years.

Save your good floors from wetness tracked in from the garage. This absorbent garage mat features a patented two-layer design that soaks up water, snow, and mud. Its permeable surface sponges up outdoor muck from car tires and shoes, preventing water and dirt from being brought indoors from your garage floor. You’ll save your carpeting from stains and yourself from unnecessary cleaning.

With record rainfalls on the west coast and March and April the wettest months for the east coast, Mother Nature seems intent on showing us her mettle this year. Don’t let her ruin your day: prepare yourself now and later you’ll be singin’ in the rain.

Unique Gifts Provide a Sweet Treat

Not everybody has a sweet tooth, but those who do know if you don’t answer its call, the craving will just keep nagging you.

If you’re one of those folks who needs that sweet taste virtually every day, we have some unique gift suggestions that satisfy your taste for a treat.

This is the best frozen soft-serve dessert maker we’ve found. It earned The Best rating from the Hammacher Schlemmer Institute because it made the smoothest, soft-serve ice cream-like desserts. Lesser units produced frozen treats that had an uneven consistency or were too chunky, while The Best unit’s powerful-yet-quiet motor purees frozen bananas, chocolate chips, and marshmallows into a healthy alternative to Rocky Road, with a super-satisfying mouth feel. 

Who doesn’t love s’mores? Now, you don’t even need a campfire to make them. This indoor roaster produces perfect toasted marshmallows without an open flame. The puffy confections are toasted over a stainless steel electric heater, making it safe and easy to use with kids.

Here’s another unique gift reminiscent of summer. This snow cone cart recreates the treat found at beaches, parks, and zoos. The fun starts under a classic ruffled red awning as the cart’s electric grinder produces finely granulated ice from ordinary household ice cubes. You can make up to eight snow cones at a time, while your fortunate guests apply their choice of flavored syrup from the included rainbow of one-gallon containers of cherry, grape, blue raspberry, lemon-lime, or orange syrup.

Studies have shown that a little bit of sweet at the end of a meal signals your body that it’s time to turn the appetite off. Just don’t go overboard and be sure to balance your treats with plenty of fruits, veggies, and whole grains, and your sweet tooth can be satisfied, even while you maintain your good health.

Take a Spring Break without Going Broke

That tropical getaway is enticing you like the ukulele-strumming, hula-dancing bobblehead atop your file cabinet. And that mini plastic palm tree glued to the top of the water cooler oasis is a reminder you need a spring break vacation, complete with beach bars run on island time.

But this week, some of the major airlines have launched new rules for their lowest fares restricting use of overhead bin storage. That means you have to pack smarter than ever or prepare to pay up. We have unique gifts to help you save money and travel like a pro so you can be on the beach in your stylish maillot de bain and not in sweat pants, awaiting way-laid luggage.  

This rolling leather carry-on is designed to fit under an airline seat, while maximizing packable space. Available exclusively from Hammacher Schlemmer, the bag is made from full-grain cowhide that provides rugged yet soft durability. Side pockets keep reading material handy, while a front pocket keeps your laptop or tablet ready for easy onboard deployment. The bag unzips to reveal a spacious 13″-wide main compartment with a solid fabric wall built across its lower third to keep folded garments tidy. 

If you’re checking luggage, be mindful of the 50-lb. weight limit most domestic airlines impose to avoid yet another fee. We have a couple of suggestions to help you meet the limit. First is this 26″ hard shell suitcase with an integrated digital scale. A Hammacher Schlemmer exclusive, it displays its own weight in seconds when lifted by the scale-integrated handle. Constructed of durable thermoplastic polymer (ABS) with an exterior layer of polycarbonate, the suitcase withstands the bumps of baggage claim and the bruises of cargo storage.

Easily weigh any suitcase with this portable digital scale. The device’s strap clips securely around luggage handles and its large LCD panel accurately displays the weight while a hold function locks in the reading. The scale’s ergonomic shape makes it easy to grasp with one or both hands and it’s compact enough to take along so you can test the weight of your luggage on the return trip – bearing all the souvenirs and unique gifts you bought for friends and family back home.

Experts claim the sweet spot for finding the lowest airfares is about seven weeks out on a Tuesday afternoon. With planning and patience – and the right luggage – you’ll save on airfare and have more to spend on fun at that beach bar.

Recommit to Get Fit

We’re almost two months into the new year…and by now, more than a third of us have strayed from our New Year’s resolutions, particularly those resolutions involving diet and exercise.

But it’s not too late; with recommitment and focus – and a bit of help from the following suggestions and unique gifts – you can get back on track and get ready for warmer weather and lighter clothing.

Count calories…but don’t forget about other nutrients that can pack on pounds and rob you of the unique gift of good health. This analytical diet scale provides complete nutritional information on an entire meal and is ideal for monitoring cholesterol intake, or tracking sugar consumption. The scale connects via Bluetooth to a smartphone or tablet and uses a free app to record and store diet data on calories, proteins, carbohydrates, sugars, total fat, fiber, sodium, and cholesterol for over 550,000 foods.

Make exercise so easy, you’ll have no excuses. This motorless walker’s treadmill folds to only 14″ high for unobtrusive storage, so you can exercise any time in the convenience of your own home. Available only from Hammacher Schlemmer, the treadmill’s resistance is created by magnetic force, eliminating the need for AC power and allowing for setup anywhere. A battery-powered monitor tracks time, speed, distance, heart rate, and calories burned.

Accept coaching to help you stay on track. This digital bathroom scale has a daily calorie coaching function that provides you with an accurate number of calories needed to reach or maintain your target weight. A Hammacher Schlemmer exclusive, this scale monitors daily readings of weight and body composition, and wirelessly transmits the data via Bluetooth to an iOS-compatible device for easy tracking and motivation. It displays data in a list, graph, or chart for daily goal management.

Finally, if you have multiple resolutions you’re not keeping, give yourself permission to abandon some of them. It’s better to recommit to one or two than to fail across the board.