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.

Unique Gifts for the Chief of Stuff

Today kicks off Presidents Day weekend, though officially and federally, Monday’s public holiday is still called Washington’s Birthday.

No matter what you name it, we have some unique gift ideas fitting for a president of any sort: leader of the free world, a company CEO, or the individual in your home who is Chief of Stuff.

Impress heads of state – or the in-laws – with this commercial-grade dual espresso maker from Italy, the same kind trusted in the finest restaurants worldwide. The internal brewing mechanism has an advanced microprocessor, while a built-in water softener ensures the best cup of espresso possible. The ornate copper dome is handmade in Morocco and topped with a very presidential brass eagle. 

Somehow, presidents of all sorts always seem to find time for golf. This attention-getting hovercraft golf cart glides over sand traps and water hazards on a cushion of air as easily as it does over fairways and the rough. Its ducted fan propels the craft up to 45 mph and 9″ off the ground without harming grass, allowing immediate crossing of a pond or stream to follow-up a cross-water shot. The fan’s streamlined design minimizes noise, speeds up an 18-hole outing, and conveys four passengers and two golf bags.

If there’s one lesson learned from the most recent Presidential election, it’s that we all need to exercise caution to avoid having our valuable computer passwords filched by sinister hackers. This password vault securely stores passwords, usernames, and ATM PIN numbers, with easy retrieval. Unlike password information stored on a computer, passwords are stored offline in the vault’s memory, ensuring sensitive information can never be compromised.

There’s a whole list of laws and regulations that prevent POTUS from keeping most presents given while in office. Instead, they become property of the National Archives and are frequently displayed in the president’s library museum collection. You, however, can keep all of the unique gifts you receive…consider it a perk of not having the job.

Celebrating a Pioneer in the Business of Unique Gifts

This week, we mark the 178th birthday of a man who came to New York as a young German immigrant.

That young German was Albert Hammacher, born February 16, 1839, in Leichlingen, a farming community in the North Rhine-Westphalia region.

At the tender age of 20, Mr. Hammacher invested $5,000 (equal to about $150,000 today – records do not show how he came into this money) in a thriving hardware store owned by Charles Tollner. The store was known as a source for hard-to-find tools, paving the way for a policy we have today of providing The Only, unique gifts exclusive to Hammacher Schlemmer.

Hammacher’s investment allowed the store to continue to grow, expanding into a larger location and honing its reputation for high quality. Today, the independent Hammacher Schlemmer Institute continues this quality reputation, objectively testing to determine items that are The Best, truly superior in their product category.

By 1867, Tollner had left the business and Mr. Hammacher took on as a partner a long-time employee of the store: William Schlemmer. Together, they continued to grow the business and embrace innovation. Taking advantage of new technology of the time, the Hammacher Schlemmer showroom was among the first businesses to install electric lights. Back in the day, lighting may have been unexpected by many customers. Today’s Hammacher Schlemmer customers delight in finding The Unexpected unique gift items, a selection that is continuously updated.

In 1899, Mr. Hammacher left the business and returned to Germany to live for the remainder of his life, passing away on January 12, 1912. But his name and the legacy he created of The Best, The Only and The Unexpected live on.

Fight the Flu Before It Hits You First

Peak season for the flu is here. While experts can’t predict exactly how long it will last, flu season generally persists through April.

This year’s vaccine is thought to be generally effective, but it won’t protect you from the common cold, nor from strains of the flu that were unpredicted and not included in the vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control is reporting this is an especially bad flu season for children. To boost your chances of avoiding illness, and to give your family the unique gift of staying healthy, wash your hands frequently, avoid close contact with others who are sick, and get sufficient rest.

You may also want to consider an air purifier. This germ-destroying purifier quietly eliminates up to 99.9% of airborne bacteria, mold and viruses. It also removes pollen and other allergens that can tax your respiratory system. With no filter to replace or clean, the device uses natural convection to silently draw airborne impurities into its patented ceramic heating chamber. It instantly destroys microorganisms with 400ºF heat, then releases cooled, sanitized air into the room for a healthier breathing environment.

For areas such as your kitchen, consider this unobtrusive purifier that eliminates germs on surfaces as well as in the air. The device uses a NASA-inspired technology that’s also used in hospitals: ultraviolet light inside the device combines with a nickel catalyst to emit safe molecules that destroy up to 99% of bacteria on surfaces. Consider this unit as a unique gift for parents of young children to help them keep their kids healthier.

You can take light UV technology on the road, too. This pocket-sized air purifier reduces mold and bacteria in the air or on surfaces. About the size of a radar detector, the purifier sets up unobtrusively on a car’s dashboard, hotel nightstand, or office desk. Its filterless design eliminates the need for costly filter replacements and the three-speed fan generates only a whisper-quiet hum. It’s another great unique gift idea, this time for road warriors and office workers.

If you do succumb to the flu, you may get some relief from antiviral medications if taken within the first 48 hours of symptoms. Stay home if possible, for at least 24 hours after any fever subsides…we’d all rather you didn’t share.

Get to the Heart of Better Health

Heart disease is the number one killer of both men and women. That’s why it’s worth recognizing February as American Heart Month.

Throughout this month, the American Heart Association encourages all of us to become more aware of the factors that lead to heart disease: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, elevated blood sugar, a sedentary lifestyle, excess weight, a poor diet, and smoking.

By closely monitoring your risk factors, you can reduce your likelihood of heart disease and gain the unique gift of improved wellness. Here are some ideas to help you on the journey to better heart health.

The NASA Life Tracker, made by the developer of health monitoring technology for NASA astronauts, is an easy-to-wear fitness band that tracks ECG, heart rate, steps, natural light exposure, calories, and sleep. Data appear on the device screen or a paired mobile device running a free app. The tracker doubles as a watch and shows incoming smartphone messages and alerts via Bluetooth, and can even be worn while swimming or showering.

This fingertip pulse oximeter detects and records arterial pulsations. It uses the same technology found in hospitals to measure beats per minute as well as aortic pulse wave velocity. The unit provides insight into cardiovascular fitness, giving you information on your aortic stiffness and corresponding internal age. Results are tracked by a free iPhone-compatible app that stores the data for up to five users.

Work your body from top to bottom with a low-impact exercise machine that provides a complete cardio workout from the comfort of a favorite chair. A Hammacher Schlemmer exclusive, this whole body pedaler combines bike-simulating exercise for the legs with an upper-body ergometer for cardiovascular fitness and muscle tone without strain on weight-bearing joints. The compact design allows the pedaler to sit between you and the TV, making it an ideal unique gift for anyone who claims to have no time for exercise.

The American Heart Association recommends wearing red this month to show support for the cause. Better yet, get out and move for the good of your own heart and health.