The Uncommon Life

Holiday Party Hosting Perfected

December 7, 2011

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!  We’ve got gift-giving covered, but we’re leaving the party planning to other experts.  Take a look at some ideas we’re building on and borrowing from in order to host the perfect holiday get-together.

Set the scene for your party with DIY decorating ideas from interior designer and stylist Matthew Mead, who shared his tips with blogger Centsational Girl.  His number one piece of advice?  Keep it simple, which will help both you and your guests feel at home.

(Image courtesy of Centsational Girl)

Once the table is set, fill it with delicious dishes to impress your guests.  Food blog 101 Cookbooks has a comprehensive collection of holiday recipes to draw inspiration from, including hearty dishes like this Hazelnut & Chard Ravioli Salad and festive snacks such as these Butter-toasted Hazelnuts.

(Image courtesy of Heidi Swanson)

Don’t let your dinner table take all the attention – just because you’re staying in doesn’t mean you can’t dress up!  Refinery29 has a variety of outfit ideas, ranging from celebrity-inspired looks to key bold red pieces.  Just don’t fall prey to any of these common holiday faux pas pitfalls!

(Image courtesy of J. Crew)

For a comprehensive guide to hosting a holiday cocktail party, the Drinks team at Serious Eats has compiled a complete how-to for hosting.  Michael Dietsch suggests crafting and creating signature cocktails in advance, anticipating 1-2 drinks per guest per hour, and stocking up on bagged ice.

(Image courtesy of Jennifer Hess from Serious Eats)

Close out the night with a variety of Christmas cookies to serve as dessert or to give as parting gifts.  Bree Hester of Baked Bree is sharing 12 weeks of Christmas cookies, including these unique Hot Chocolate Cookies and the Canadian classic, Nanaimo Bars.

(Image courtesy of Bree Hester)

And if you can’t share the joy of the holidays with friends and family in person, make sure to send along season’s greetings with an uncommon card, stocking stuffer, or personalized gift.

The Uncommon Life

An Uncommon Thanksgiving Recipe Round-up

November 22, 2011

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner this year or attending a potluck, consider taking inspiration for uncommon foods from a few of our favorite blogs. Who knows, you might end up creating a new tradition by cooking up one of the following dishes!

Pioneer Woman Ree Drummond’s unique city-to-country transformation and trademark style have landed her a book deal, Food Network show, and even a movie (to be released next year). Give your guests a taste of pioneer goodness with this unique pumpkin soup, and save yourself from dirty dish duty too!
 (Image courtesy of The Pioneer Woman)

For another stuffed squash dish (and potential main substitute for any vegetarians at the table), Honest Cooking presents a Winter Squash With Stuffing and Goat Cheese that’s just as flavorful as any typical turkey.
 (Image courtesy of Honest Cooking)

Finally, if you’re seeking an alternative to pumpkin or plain apple pie, Jenna of Eat, Live, Run suggests a Chocolate Angel Nut Pie that’s unique and uncommon, but still evokes all the flavors of fall.
(Image courtesy of Eat, Live, Run)

Whether you’re sticking to the classics or making something new, we wish you all an equally Happy Thanksgiving from UncommonGoods!

The Uncommon Life

DIY Gifts that Keep On Giving

November 17, 2011

We love the internet – there’s a treasure trove out there of inspiration.  Here’s what’s caught our eye recently in the world of DIY gifts, a trend we’re totally on board with.

(Image courtesy of Design Boom, from Sabine Marcelis)

Our own Jonathan and Kira tested the Beer Making Kit earlier this summer, and it looks like they aren’t the only ones experimenting with DIY distilling: Design Boom brought to our attention Netherlands artist Sabine Marcelis’ “Housewine,” a beautifully simple and functional display of the wine-making process.

(Image courtesy of My Baking Addiction)

Another recent trend that’s right at home with UncommonGoods is indoor gardening, and now that flu season is upon us, a great way to stay healthy is by adding herbs to your repertoire of recipes. Consider making Jamie of My Baking Addiction’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil Herb Dip. The Dip includes oregano and basil, which can both be grown in our recycled Grow Bottles!

(Image courtesy of Astronomy Today Sky Guide; photo by Jenny Rollo)

While UncommonGoods specializes in gifts that are great for the home, we’ve also got goods that are out of this world – the Planisphere Watch tells the time and maps the night sky.  If you’re interested in DIY astronomy, check out Astronomy Today’s Sky Guide, a handy tool for tracking otherworldly occurrences.

The Uncommon Life

Birmingham Knocks NYC Out for Most Design-Savvy City

November 14, 2011

When it comes to cities that have their eye on modern design, you’d expect New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago to be top of the list, right? Not so!

We were taking a look at the sales data for some of our most popular design-friendly gifts:  the Face Mug, Unzipped Glass Zipper Bag, Buddha Bowls, Elevate Utensils, and Urbano Eco Trash Can.

The trends that emerged are not what you’d expect.

Birmingham, AL – Leading the pack of stylish cities is Alabama’s cultural capital.  Home to Vulcan (the world’s largest cast iron statue) and a brand new 19-acre Railroad Park, it’s no wonder this epicenter of cool urban planning has design-minded gift-givers as well.

Vulcan Park, Greg Willis

Royal Oak, MI – A suburb of Detroit, Royal Oak may be unfamiliar to most. But, as any dedicated 1990s TV-watcher will tell you, Royal Oak was the setting for the much-loved Home Improvement series starring Tim Allen. Perhaps great home improving lives on not only in the show’s Disney Channel reruns, but in Royal Oak’s residents as well.

Pleasanton, CA – This Bay Area city’s name is an accurate indication of its residents’ eye for good design. We bet their lovely interiors and home decorating skills factored into Pleasanton’s ranking as one of the best places to live.

Green Bay, WI – Green Bay’s strategic location on Lake Michigan made it a historically important center of railroad transportation and trade. Nearly 400 years of gift giving and exchange sounds like enough experience to land the #4 spot on our list of America’s most design-savvy cities.

Museum of Glass, Casey Yee

Tacoma, WA – Tacoma has the highest density of art and history museums in the state of Washington, including a Museum of Glass that our Unzipped Glass Zipper Bag would feel right at home in. Whether UncommonGoods shoppers in Tacoma find inspiration for their homes from museum visits or not, we applaud their great taste.

You may be wondering where cities such as New York and Los Angeles are on our list.  The City of Angels ranked 45th, and the Big Apple came in 94th.  If these numbers don’t sound right to any of you Angelenos and New Yorkers, what are you waiting for?  Get shopping!

The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Halloween Costumes

October 28, 2011

Cooler weather and crisp leaves can only mean one thing: Halloween is on its way!  A little bit of creativity and some uncommon goods can go a long way in crafting a creative costume – here are a few ideas for your best Halloween yet.

Continue Reading…


Comments of the Week

September 16, 2011

It’s the second and final week of our Jewelry Design Challenge – we’ve shared 35 semifinal submissions on our community voting app, and you’ve shared your opinions on each piece of unique jewelry!  Here are some of our favorite comments.

Elinore and Amanda both love the nerdy style of Amanda Preske’s Recycled Circuit Board Cufflinks.  Perhaps they’re thinking of pairing it with our Geek Wrist Watch!

Elyse’s comment on the M2_RB Necklaces in the community voting app responds to some of the concerns of other voters. What do you think?

Ellinore was a concerned by the shape of Kathleen DiResta’s Modern Handmade Jewelry

While Joseph and Arthur stand behind the comfort and ease of wear of Kat’s designs. The interlocking rings can be worn alone or individually, and are sold as a set of two.

Corinne Saffell thinks her Dreamcatcher Necklace works well as a statement piece, and our voter Andrea agrees.  We’re glad Andrea associates “one of a kind, unique, and beautifully designed” jewelry with UncommonGoods!

Let us know which uncommon jewelry designs you love by this Monday, September 19.  The top 5 vote-getting submissions will be evaluated by our panel of guest judges, who will choose the winning design.  And remember, you can sign up to be notified if a piece you love is picked!

Gift Guides

Top 10 Gifts for Music Lovers

August 18, 2011

Looking to celebrate the music lovers in your life?  Shuffle through UncommonGoods Top 10 gifts for music lovers, and check out our picks for some late summer songs that will get you singing along!

Created with flickr slideshow.
Cool Jazz Ice Stirrers bring together two things every party needs: music and drinks!  Fill the tray with water before your party for a fun way to keep cool, or mix it up and use the set to make your own popsicles.

The Portable Balloon Speaker is an attractive and easy way to share music from an mp3 player or your mobile device’s headphone jack more effectively than loudspeakers alone would.

Designed by Hannah Garrision & Steve Bernstein, the Guitar String Bracelet is handmade from guitar strings.  Bracelets are sold individually and come in five different colors.

Artist Jeff Davis turns classic LPs into functional and unique Record Bowls.  Whether your favorite genre’s hip-hop or jazz, the bowls come in a variety of styles so we’ve got you covered.

Or, if you have a record of your own you’d like to have made into a bowl, just mail Jeff the record and he’ll create a truly one-of-a-kind Custom Record Bowl.

Our Mechanical Music Box Set puts a new spin on the old-fashioned music box: included are three strips of paper, a hole puncher, and instructions for creating your very own tunes to crank through the instrument.  The set is perfect for budding musicians or seasoned professionals, and comes with a sheet of the Happy Birthday song pre-punched.

Exclusive to UncommonGoods, the Glass Guitar Picks are handmade in Hawaii and available in three colors.

UncommonGoods artist Jeff Davis makes Record Cuff Bracelets from recycled records.  The bracelets, like Jeff’s record bowls, are handmade in Pennsylvania.

Getting ready to go back to school will be infinitely more fun with a pair of Drumstick Pencils in hand that do that classic double duty: business in the front and a party in the back!

Speaking of parties, the Geneva Sound System will have you geared up and ready to go the next time guests are over.  Winner of the  Consumer Products Award by I.D. International Design Magazine in 2010, the speakers are a beautiful way to amplify your tunes.

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