This holiday, my mother surprised me.
Typically, she will remind us how she hates getting chores for a gift. Growing up, my sister and I learned very quickly not to give her gifts that were to be put to any sort of practical use. No pot-and-pan sets, no fancy vacuum cleaners, not even a pair of porcelain mixing bowls.
This year, though, she has specifically asked for gifts for the home. This complete about-face has left me stunned - and excited. As I've searched for her perfect present, I've also unearthed a mountain of cool home gadgets for you and yours.
Put the low-carb craze aside - nothing says home more than the smell of warm, fresh-baked bread. Sure, you could run to the store and buy pre-made dough, but it's just not the same. Instead, stay in and create a loaf from scratch with the Cuisinart 2-Pound Convection Breadmaker.
The breadmaker does all the labor at the touch of a button, and can even create low-carb, gluten-free and artisanal doughs with selection settings. Other setting options include three loaf sizes, different crust colors and more than 100 recipes for breads that can be crafted in the stainless-steel mixer. Retailing for $129, it is sold at area home stores and online at www.cuisinart.com.
Known far and wide as the king of vacuums, Dyson has outdone itself with the remodeled Dyson Root 6. This hand-held vacuum looks like a ray gun, which in itself is a buying point. But beyond the interesting design, the hand-held vac offers extremely powerful suction and a combination duster tool to get up all the crumbs, dirt and pine needles lining your floor and tabletops. The rechargeable battery has been revamped to last three times longer - now with up to six minutes of sucking time. Retailing for $149.99, it is sold at major home retailers and online at www.dyson.com.
Whether you're buying for a favorite family member or a new-found friend, candles are a never-fail gift. Candles sweep fresh, fruity or outdoorsy scents throughout the home, and the soft flickering light adds a touch of cozy comfort. Cosmetics guru Kiehl's has launched a limited-edition line of quality home candles.
The thick, stout candles come in glass holders and in a variety of scents, including forest rain, pear and cranberry. Made from pure beeswax, the hand-crafted candles are lead-free. Retailing for $28.50 each, they are sold at Kiehl's stores and online at www.kiehls.com.
While car-types like to talk about miles per hour, home-types prefer speaking of mixes per hour. And with 1,000 watts of power, Cuisinart's Stand Mixer is the talk of the town. All this power means the mixer can knead dough for a crusty baguette or whip egg whites into glossy peaks.
Each Cuisinart stand mixer comes with three culinary tools - a chef's whisk, dough hook and flat mixing paddle - to perform a variety of tasks. The mixer retails for $449 for a 7-quart model, and $349 for a 5.5-quart model, and is sold at area home stores and online at www.cuisinart.com.
E-mail staff writer Anna Ferguson at email@example.com.