Five Unusual Housewarming Gifts

Sunday, March 26, 2006

The housing market may be cooling off, but you could have fooled me. Many of my friends have taken the daunting leap into homeownership in the past year. Tired of shopping for begonias and bottles of wine, I widened my search and unearthed some housewarming treasures. Some are wacky, some are fun, some are strangely useful, and all are under $30.

-- Laurel Dalrymple

Know someone who is afraid of hand-to-tentacle combat during a pest crisis? An ELECTRIC FLY SWATTER eliminates killer sprays, close contact and messy bug guts. Shaped like a tennis racket, the electrified "net" zaps little buggers, killing them instantly. Electrocute from arm's length, then tidily dispose of the carcass. Use against flying, crawling, dangling, sitting and fleeing intruders. Perfect for the arachnophobe who lives alone. Different models are available at from about $8 to $15. (Pictured is the Bugseye Bug Zapper, $15.)

Liven up boring tap water with an LED FAUCET LIGHT , which installs into most nozzles in less than a minute and turns the water stream a brilliant bright blue. The light turns off when the faucet does. Great for making drinks at the wet bar, midnight trips to the bathroom or getting kids to wash their hands, it comes with two universal adaptors, three batteries and good installation directions. Buy at for $18.98.

Foodies will fawn over the KAPOOSH UNIVERSAL CUTLERY BLOCK , which not only safely stores nearly any kind of knife but also holds spatulas, scissors, vegetable peelers and many other kitchen gadgets. This wooden block encases thousands of tightly packed polypropylene rods, which open up to firmly hold as many as 20 utensils wherever you push them. No more hard-to-clean, unsanitary knife slots -- you can remove the rods from their base and put them in the dishwasher. Available at for $29.99.

For the friend who bought a home too close to mature trees and power lines, try a super practical emergency 'SHAKE' FLASHLIGHT , which operates without batteries or bulbs. The flashlight can be recharged by shaking a magnet back and forth through a metal coil. Just 90 seconds of this will yield about two hours of LED light which starts out bright, then fades over time. Reshake at any time to touch up the glow. The flashlight is waterproof and won't sputter or die from non-use. Great for a carwarming present, too! Different brands, sizes and shine lengths offered on range from about $9.99 to $29.95. (Pictured is the Nightstar CS, $29.95.)

Finally, take houseplants to the next level with grow-it-yourself terrariums:

· Frighten intruders with two or more legs by cultivating a menacing array of meat-eating plants. The CARNIVOROUS CREATIONS dome encases more than 10 varieties of predatory plants, including the Venus' flytrap, pitcher plant and sundew. Grow from seeds, then decorate with swamp rocks and photo decals. Feed plants flies or little pieces of meat.

· Impress the neighbors upstairs with a BIBLICAL GARDEN (below). This divine display showcases an ancient landscape of plants inspired by the Bible, such as date palm (used on Palm Sunday), Joseph's coat (named after his coat of many colors) and hyssop (used during baptism). Decorate with stained-glass decals and pebbles.

Dome garden kits available from for $24.99 each.

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