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21 Gifts Moms Will Love for Mother’s Day

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This year, don’t put off getting a Mother's Day gift until the last minute. Order something really special now that you know she’ll love. Here are some gift ideas we found to get you started. (Mother's Day is May 8—maybe you should write that down ...)

1. DOGA; $12 

Dogs are needy creatures. Most of the time, they want to be right next to their owners, no matter what's happening. Dog-loving yogis will enjoy this book that incorporates their furry friends into the mix. The book comes with full-color photographs and clear step-by-step directions. 

Find it: Amazon

2. SEED BOMBS; $14 

Help your mom add extra life to her backyard or garden with a bag of seed bombs. The handy sacks contain 10 walnut-sized bombs brimming with your choice of flower seed. To plant, the user just needs to toss them outside and watch them grow. Best of all, the new flowers will promote butterfly and bee populations. 

Find it: Firebox

3. FUNKY VEGETABLE KIT; $19 

Help your mom mix up her produce with this kit that includes seeds to grow purple carrots, red Brussels sprouts, striped tomatoes, yellow zucchini, and multi-colored swiss chard. The set also features starter growing pots, plant markers, and gardening tips. 

Find it: Amazon

4. PERSONALIZED FAMILY MUGS; $30 - $160 

Your mom will love seeing you and the rest of the gang illustrated on matching cupware. To get started, you just pick which pre-drawn figure looks the most like each family member and then add the name. You can also change up the shirts and hair so they can wear their favorite colors.

Find it: Uncommon Goods

5. NOVEL TEAS; $15 

Moms who are also big readers will enjoy a cup of this special tea alongside their favorite books. The tea bags are adorned with tags that feature literary quotes from authors all over the world. Each box comes with 25 bags containing English breakfast tea. 

Find it: Amazon

6. CONSTELLATION MUG; $13 

This special mug isn’t like other mugs: When you add hot water, the night sky lights up with constellations from Hercules to Cassiopeia. Just warn mom that she'll need to hand wash this one; machine washing it will ruin the heat-sensitive material. 

Find it: Amazon

7. SLOTH TEA INFUSER; $10 

If your mom is into animal-themed kitchenware and also loves a good cup of tea, then this sloth is the perfect gift. The adorable tea infuser sits languidly right on the edge of the cup until your tea is ready.

Find it: Amazon

8. THE OBSESSIVE CHEF CUTTING BOARD; $23

A mom who loves cooking with precision will love this cutting board, which will help her get each and every ingredient exactly the right shape and size.The board comes with a series of lines to guide the cutter, including how to: medium dice, small dice, brunoise, fine brunoise, batonnet, allumette, julienne, and fine julienne. The lines are burnished instead of printed, so they'll never get worn away. 

Find it: Amazon

9. WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE TOTE; $18 

Remind your mom of the days when she used to read to you at night with this special tote bag. Out of Print makes a number of different bag designs that resemble childhood classics like Where the Wild Things Are and Goodnight Moon. By purchasing the tote, the seller sends one book to a community in need.

Find it: Amazon

10. STANDING MIXER; $230 

The KitchenAid standing mixer is a device beloved by bakers worldwide. If your mom spends a lot of time whipping up cookies and cupcakes, then this is the gift for her. The fancy kitchenware works with 15 optional attachments and comes in a variety of colors. We’re not saying your mom will bake you some thank you cookies if you get her this, but it could happen. 

Find it: Amazon

11. PROSECCO GUMMY BEARS; $13 

These Prosecco-flavored gummy bears are the perfect sugary something for moms with a sweet tooth. They don’t contain any alcohol, though, so you’ll need to get a real bottle of the bubbly for that. 

Find it: Firebox

12. JEWELRY TREE; $100  

This fancy necklace holder isn't something you can pick up just anywhere. It’s made with Manzanita branches that were taken from the high desert of southern California and coated with a gold paint finish. The carved tree offers miniature branches perfect for hanging jewelry and other knick-knacks. The beautiful tree sits on a hand-rubbed, alabaster base. 

Find it: Uncommon Goods

13. DIGITAL STYLUS PENCIL; $49

If your mom is the creative type, consider giving her a piece of technology that makes being creative easy. This elegant stylus, made by FiftyThree, looks and feels just like a real pencil. It works perfectly with the matching app as well as other apps like Noteshelf and Sketchbook Mobile. Just like a real pencil, you can draw, blend, and erase. It’s Bluetooth smart and has a long lasting battery. 

Find it: Amazon

14. PILLOW MASSAGER; $40  

After a hard day of taking care working or taking care of kids (or both), the mom in your life deserves something that will help her unwind. This back massager has a heating function and four rotating nodes that help soothe aching muscles. It even comes with a car charger for relaxing on the go. 

Find it: Amazon

15. WONDERSHELF; $25 

Show your mom how super you think she is with this novel bookshelf. The special “floating” appearance is actually created with a hidden surface that slips inside the bottom book’s sleeve. The superhero is magnetized and keeps the book closed while giving the illusion that she is holding the whole stack in the air.

Find it: SOHO Design Shop

16. NESSIE LADLE; $3 

Moms who cook and have a sense of humor might like this Nessie ladle. Its adorable shape makes it look like the mythical Scottish creature is lurking in the evening's stew. The nylon ladle is machine washable but should not go in the microwave. 

Find it: Amazon

17. TERRARIUM KIT; $27 

Terrariums are a lot of fun to keep around the house and even more fun to create. Give your mom all the necessary fixings to make her own with this pre-assembled kit, which includes a teardrop-shaped enclosure, hemp twine, an air plant, purple quartz, white rocks, dried echinop, reindeer moss, and juniper sprigs.

Find it: Amazon

18. PHONE SANITIZER; $60 

We are quick to wash our hands throughout the day, but less quick to clean off our phones, which come in contact with a lot of dirty things (specially if you drop your phone a lot or, ahem, take it to the bathroom). Germ-fearing moms will be grateful for this handy device that sanitizes a phone in a mere four minutes. Simply plug the phone in and close the lid and the UV light will zap away any germs. Most phones fit inside—even the iPhone 6 Plus. 

Find it: ThinkGeek

19. DEVICE ORGANIZER; $36 

Mothers with a lot of devices on their hands will love having a place to stash all their things. This bamboo organizer comes with an interior storage area for chargers so the devices can all charge at the same time. 

Find it: Amazon

20. SHOWER SPEAKER; $13

This waterproof speaker works with Bluetooth and comes with a powerful suction cup that allows it to cling to flat surfaces. It plays for about six hours on a single charge and also takes calls. Besides blue, the speaker also comes in black, pink, camouflage, and leopard print. 

Find it: Amazon

21. NARWHAL HEATED SLIPPERS; $34 

Relaxing is about to get a whole lot more adorable with these heated narwhal slippers. The happy looking footwear fit most feet and come with a USB-powered heating option. If your mom doesn't want to get tied down with wires, there's also a wireless option. 

Find it: Amazon

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Big Questions
Why Do Fruitcakes Last So Long?
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Fruitcake is a shelf-stable food unlike any other. One Ohio family has kept the same fruitcake uneaten (except for periodic taste tests) since it was baked in 1878. In Antarctica, a century-old fruitcake discovered in artifacts left by explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s 1910 expedition remains “almost edible,” according to the researchers who found it. So what is it that makes fruitcake so freakishly hardy?

It comes down to the ingredients. Fruitcake is notoriously dense. Unlike almost any other cake, it’s packed chock-full of already-preserved foods, like dried and candied nuts and fruit. All those dry ingredients don’t give microorganisms enough moisture to reproduce, as Ben Chapman, a food safety specialist at North Carolina State University, explained in 2014. That keeps bacteria from developing on the cake.

Oh, and the booze helps. A good fruitcake involves plenty of alcohol to help it stay shelf-stable for years on end. Immediately after a fruitcake cools, most bakers will wrap it in a cheesecloth soaked in liquor and store it in an airtight container. This keeps mold and yeast from developing on the surface. It also keeps the cake deliciously moist.

In fact, fruitcakes aren’t just capable of surviving unspoiled for months on end; some people contend they’re better that way. Fruitcake fans swear by the aging process, letting their cakes sit for months or even years at a stretch. Like what happens to a wine with age, this allows the tannins in the fruit to mellow, according to the Wisconsin bakery Swiss Colony, which has been selling fruitcakes since the 1960s. As it ages, it becomes even more flavorful, bringing out complex notes that a young fruitcake (or wine) lacks.

If you want your fruitcake to age gracefully, you’ll have to give it a little more hooch every once in a while. If you’re keeping it on the counter in advance of a holiday feast a few weeks away, the King Arthur Flour Company recommends unwrapping it and brushing it with whatever alcohol you’ve chosen (brandy and rum are popular choices) every few days. This is called “feeding” the cake, and should happen every week or so.

The aging process is built into our traditions around fruitcakes. In Great Britain, one wedding tradition calls for the bride and groom to save the top tier of a three-tier fruitcake to eat until the christening of the couple’s first child—presumably at least a year later, if not more.

Though true fruitcake aficionados argue over exactly how long you should be marinating your fruitcake in the fridge, The Spruce says that “it's generally recommended that soaked fruitcake should be consumed within two years.” Which isn't to say that the cake couldn’t last longer, as our century-old Antarctic fruitcake proves. Honestly, it would probably taste OK if you let it sit in brandy for a few days.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Lists
20 Random Facts About Shopping
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Shopping on Black Friday—or, really, any time during the holiday season—is a good news/bad news kind of endeavor. The good news? The deals are killer! The bad news? So are the lines. If you find yourself standing behind 200 other people who braved the crowds and sacrificed sleep in order to hit the stores early today, here's one way to pass the time: check out these fascinating facts about shopping through the ages.

1. The oldest customer service complaint was written on a clay cuneiform tablet in Mesopotamia 4000 years ago. (In it, a customer named Nanni complains that he was sold inferior copper ingots.)

2. Before battles, some Roman gladiators read product endorsements. The makers of the film Gladiator planned to show this, but they nixed the idea out of fear that audiences wouldn’t believe it.

3. Like casinos, shopping malls are intentionally designed to make people lose track of time, removing clocks and windows to prevent views of the outside world. This kind of “scripted disorientation” has a name: It’s called the Gruen Transfer.

4. According to a study in Social Influence, people who shopped at or stood near luxury stores were less likely to help people in need.

5. A shopper who first purchases something on his or her shopping list is more likely to buy unrelated items later as a kind of reward.

6. On the Pacific island of Vanuatu, some villages still use pigs and seashells as currency. In fact, the indigenous bank there uses a unit of currency called the Livatu. Its value is equivalent to a boar’s tusk. 

7. Sears used to sell build-your-own homes in its mail order catalogs.

8. The first shopping catalog appeared way back in the 1400s, when an Italian publisher named Aldus Manutius compiled a handprinted catalog of the books that he produced for sale and passed it out at town fairs.

9. The first product ever sold by mail order? Welsh flannel.

10. The first shopping cart was a folding chair with a basket on the seat and wheels on the legs.

11. In the late 1800s in Corinne, Utah, you could buy legal divorce papers from a vending machine for $2.50.

12. Some of the oldest known writing in the world includes a 5000-year-old receipt inscribed on a clay tablet. (It was for clothing that was sent by boat from Ancient Mesopotamia to Dilmun, or current day Bahrain.)

13. Beginning in 112 CE, Emperor Trajan began construction on the largest of Rome's imperial forums, which housed a variety of shops and services and two libraries. Today, Trajan’s Market is regarded as the oldest shopping mall in the world.

14. The Chinese invented paper money. For a time, there was a warning written right on the currency that all counterfeiters would be decapitated.

15. Halle Berry was named after Cleveland, Ohio's Halle Building, which was home to the Halle Brothers department store.

16. At Boston University, students can sign up for a class on the history of shopping. (Technically, it’s called “The Modern American Consumer”)

17. Barbra Streisand had a mini-mall installed in her basement. “Instead of just storing my things in the basement, I can make a street of shops and display them,” she told Harper's Bazaar. (There are photos of it here.)

18. Shopping online is not necessarily greener. A 2016 study at the University of Delaware concluded that “home shopping has a greater impact on the transportation sector than the public might suspect.”

19. Don’t want to waste too much money shopping? Go to the mall in high heels. A 2013 Brigham Young University study discovered that shoppers in high heels made more balanced buying decisions while balancing in pumps.

20. Cyber Monday is not the biggest day for online shopping. The title belongs to November 11, or Singles Day, a holiday in China that encourages singles to send themselves gifts. According to Fortune, this year's event smashed all previous records with more than $38 million in sales.

A heaping handful of these facts came from John Lloyd, John Mitchinson, and James Harkin's delightful book, 1,234 Quite Interesting Facts to Leave You Speechless.

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