Archives

The Uncommon Life

A Haiku For You

February 17, 2012

We don’t mean to seem immodest here, but our emails are pretty awesome. Wouldn’t you agree?

This month, we’re inviting you to help us write them. Here’s the contest: Write a haiku poem for one (or all) of these four products. If we pick your poem, you’ll be featured in an upcoming email and win the item you extolled! Read on for the rules and details:

Periodic Table Building Blocks: These 20 toy blocks contain the entire periodic table– every known element in the universe. Pretty deep, right?

Tipping Tea Cup: Tipping back and forth to brew your tea, this cup sure has some poetic rhythm.

Stump Ring: Is there anything more symbolic than your true love’s initials carved into the trunk of a tree?

Recycled Glass Owl Night Light: Our night owl’s eyes seem to gaze right into your soul.

The Rules

  • Your poem must be a haiku. What does that mean? Glad you asked! Haiku is a form of Japanese poetry with a rich and storied past, but we’re going to simplify the rules for the sake of good fun. Your poem must be contain 17 syllables: 5 on the first line, 7 on the second, and 5 on the third.

    Here’s an example that Marisa wrote for our soup & sandwich tray:

    “I love you, Grilled Cheese”
    “And I you, Tomato Soup”
    -Doomed never to touch


  • You can write one poem for each of the four products.
  • Leave your haiku(s) in the comments below.
  • By submitting a poem, you’re giving us permission to post your name and haiku poem throughout our site, social networks, emails and maybe even catalog!
  • Deadline to enter: March 2
  • Fan us on Facebook. We’ll be posting contest updates along the way, and expect to see some fun poetry gracing our wall soon!
  • We’ll announce the winner(s) by March 20, 2012. Each winning poet will receive the product they best objectified in their haiku.
  • Questions?

    Ok, go. We can’t wait to see your creative poetry!

    Gift Guides

    Gift Lab: Moss Terrarium

    February 16, 2012

    Hypothesis: I’ve killed every houseplant I’ve ever owned. But the moss terrarium is so green and cute, so I want to give my green thumb one more try. Can I keep this fellow alive and maybe even flourishing?

    Experiment:

    First off, I need to create my terrarium. I grabbed a mixing bowl, a spoon and a squeeze bottle from my kitchen and got to work. Most everything I needed was included in the kit– dirt, moss, bottle & stand. But it did take a little bit of dexterity to get my terrarium up and running. Some assembly is required!

    I activated the moss with in a quick warm water bath.

    Gave the dirt a quick mix. Doesn’t this look like the beginning of a cake recipe? I know, I know… you just got totally grossed out. But Martha Stewart’s got a pretty impressive dirt cake recipe

    Then I used my mixing spoon to spread out the dirt along the bottom of the wine bottle, and layered the moss on top with the included pair of chopsticks.

    Here’s my finished terrarium, hanging out next to the last lonely tendril of parsley.

    Results: Since the time this picture was taken, my parsley has since died. But my beautiful moss terrarium has stayed green, and I only need to spritz it with a spray bottle a few times a week. I did move my terrarium away from the window. I missed those instructions to keep it out of direct sunlight, and now that it’s hanging out with my favorite Beatles action figures, my terrarium just might make it through the winter.

    Conclusion: If you’re worse at gardening than I am, don’t despair. The moss terrarium kit is a chance to redeem yourself and bring a bit of nature indoors.

    The Moss Terrarium Bottle is $38, and you can dress yours up with handmade terrarium creatures, $34.

    Maker Stories

    How the Pancake Plate Can Get You a Valentine’s Date

    January 25, 2012

    With Valentine’s Day coming up, I asked Pancake Plate designer Jon Wye a few questions about his new dishware, which conveniently come packaged as a set of 2.

    Jon posing with his mom

    Me: What’s your favorite kind of pancake?

    Jon: Uhhh, that’s like asking who is your favorite child. It’s hard to imagine you have a favorite, but you know you do. Mine is Banana pancakes, followed by banana chocolate chips pancakes, followed by banana chocolate chip blueberry pancakes. Little tip, don’t mix the banana slices in with the batter. Place them on the pancakes on the grill once the batter has been slightly set, so when you flip the pancakes it pan fries the bananas and they caramelize. It’s makes the pan really messy but it’s well worth it.

    Me: Grade A or Grade B maple syrup?

    Jon: Grade B syrup hands down. It’s actually got a stronger flavor and is a thicker syrup. Grade A is good, but it’s usually thinner and I think tends to soggy the pancake more quickly. And I definitely stay away from the cheap stuff, which is usually just flavored corn syrup.

    Me: Could you recommend pancake etiquette for a date?

    Jon: I think you mean pancake etiquette for the morning after! [Editor’s note: He’s single, ladies!] But simple answer, make the pancakes from scratch. That little extra bit of labor shows you care.

    Me: And caring is the reason for the season.

    Alright readers, can you help suggest a great pancake date for Valentine’s Day?

    Gift Guides

    Nerd Pride Gift Guide

    January 19, 2012

    Some of you got in touch after our email went out yesterday, pointing out that we could’ve been more inclusive in our definition of nerd. We definitely appreciate the feedback.

    Thing is, we have a bit of a confession to make. Many of us have been looking forward to this email for weeks– men and women alike. See the thing is we are all pretty nerdy, and were pretty excited to share our extreme enthusiasm with you.

    So here’s a gift guide for all the geeks, know-it-alls, and nerdy ladies and gents in your life.

    The Art Nerd

    One of our photographers, Adam, made an interesting revelation recently. He and his wife are part of a folk band that celebrates the lives of fine artists. Here they are, commiserating the fate of Camille Claudel to the tune of Man of Constant Sorrow.

    For Adam, we recommend the Make Your Own Recorder Kit— which combines his love of art and music into one.

    The Science Fiction Fan

    Christine, our fabulous HR recruiter, loves to surprise people when she tells them she loves science fiction. “I’m from Brooklyn! People never expect me to like Star Trek or the Twilight Zone, but I do!”

    For Christine, and others, who love the final frontier, we recommend our collection of space-themed home decor:

    The Moon Clock
    Silver Flying Saucer Bowl
    And a Ray Gun Pen for the office

    That futuristic ’60s chrome style just never gets old.

    The Book Worm

    And me? I just checked my Goodreads account and was startled to realize I’d read 50 books totaling 17,654 pages last year. And let’s not go into how many volumes I picked up from my neighborhood bookstores. I might have to admit that I have a book problem.

    Luckily I know just what will support my habit.

    Leaning Ladies Bookends
    Biblioteca Bookshelf
    Literary iPhone4 cases
    (My favorite book in that group: The Great Gatsby)

    iPhones of course bring us to the other nerd– the Geek.

    We had a big debate here at UncommonGoods HQ about the difference between a geek and a nerd. Luckily, Cassie our community moderator (how appropriate!), settled things with this infographic:

    Full image available at GeeksAreSexy.

    Jess, our graphic designer, won the geek honors, saying that she and her partner own a collective of:

    (2) iPhone 4
    (2) iMac
    MacBook Pro
    iPad
    Mac mini
    AirPort Extreme
    (2) Magic Mouse
    Magic Trackpad
    Wireless Keyboard

    With all that technology, she said she’d appreciate the simplicity of a Wood iPhone Camera Case.

    But let’s not end things here. Gaby, our Community Assistant, and Brian, our Marketing Director, are history buffs (Classical Greek & Civil War respectively). Cassie loves Marvel superheroes. Nerds come in all colors. What’s your nerd pride?

    Maker Stories

    The Best Music of 2011 According to Jeff Davis

    December 26, 2011

    Want great music recommendations? Ask the man who’s literally in the music business. Jeff Davis, the artist behind the popular record bowls, clocks, coasters, and bookends, knows his albums.

    Right now, it seems like everyone‘s weighing in on their favorite songs, albums and music videos of the year. NPR seems to have had a year-long love affair with Adele, promoting her album during every seasonal pledge drive. My favorite music blog, KEXP out of Seattle, turned over the picks to their DJs and ended up with something closer to a top 500. There’s no shortage of great music reviews at this time of the year. I decided to check in with Jeff to get a more timeless perspective.

    Q: What are the top 10 albums you love too much to use in your homewares?

    A: 1. “Them” – featuring Van Morrison
    2. “Unicorn” – Tyrannosaurus Rex
    3. “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” – Traffic
    4. “Babylon By Bus” – Bob Marley and the Wailers
    5. “Blues for Allah” – The Grateful Dead
    6. “A Monastic Trio” – Alice Coltrane
    7. “The Blues” – Nina Simone
    8. “On the Beach” – Neil Young
    9. “5” – J.J. Cale
    10. “What’s Going On” – Marvin Gaye

    Q: What was your first record?
    A: “Saturday Night Fever” – soundtrack

    Q: Wow! Well… What’s the best new album of 2011?
    A: “The King is Dead” – Decemberists

    Isn’t it amazing how our tastes all grow and change? I’m not ready to publicly admit the first album I ever bought.

    But I agree with Jeff that the Decemberists put out a great album this year. David Foster Williams fans may see some familiar references in their single, “Calamity Song.”

    Q: Last question. Will people ever nostalgize tapes or CDs as much as they do records?

    A: Not likely. Records have been popular from the 1950s till the present. No other recorded music medium has as much iconic meaning or connection as records.

    That, and I’d challenge anyone to figure out how to turn a flimsy CD into bookends!

    Thanks to Jeff for sharing some great music with us. What were your favorite songs and albums from 2011?

    I’m putting together my New Year’s playlist, so please share links below!

    Pin It on Pinterest