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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Easy Weaving Without Jumping Through Hoops

September 29, 2015

Valerie

Product:  Easy Weaving Loom

Research:
I already know how to knit and crochet, so I’m ready for a new textile challenge. The Easy Weaving Loom caught my eye the minute I saw it in This Just In. After watching this video I was sure I was up for the challenge. It seems simple enough, and once I get the hang of it I can begin to explore different materials and textures. There are endless possibilities!

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Hypothesis:
I completed my experiment in June, and I wanted to make something that would be useful right away. The product story claims that when using this item, “In no time you’ll have a professional looking woven masterpiece than can become a stylish scarf, or cellphone or sunglasses case.” A stylish scarf, while fun to make, would not have be seasonally appropriate. And while the projects that are possible are not limited to these three, I decided a sunglasses case was a good place to start. It’s basic and small enough to finish quickly, so I figured it was good practice and I’d be making something to accompany me to the beach in no time!

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Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Can a Fish and a Cat Live in the Same Apartment?

October 1, 2014

Valerie

Product: No Clean Aquarium

Research:
My roommate has been talking about getting a fish for months, but we haven’t had great luck with fish in the past. The first obstacle is our cat, Jack, known to eat a fish or two – and we all have hectic schedules that are not conducive to anything that requires a lot of maintenance (like a traditional aquarium).

Hypothesis:
Described as “Fish Without Fuss” I think the No Clean Aquarium will be a great fit for our apartment. The aquarium is supposed to self-clean, all without batteries or electricity, and most importantly, without a huge time commitment or a need to remove the fish from his environment. We’ll enjoy a new fish addition, Jack will keep out, and maintaining the little guy will be stress free (for the humans and the fish).

Experiment:
I obtained the aquarium and got some rocks for the bottom. My roommate was in charge of getting the fish and a plant. It’s important to note that the No Clean Aquarium is approved only for betta fish. We made plans to set it all up on a night when we’d both get home around the same time. The betta fish was double-bagged from the pet store, and the first thing we did was float the fish bag in a pitcher of water to get the fish acclimated to the temperature. While he hung out in there, we followed the instructions to set up his new environment.

No Clean Aquarium

Setting it all up couldn’t be simpler! The aquarium came with instructions and a diagram, but without any pumps or cords it was really easy. First, we had to rinse all the pieces with water – no soap! The pieces can fit together only one way, keeping confusion to a minimum.

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The instructions recommend using twisty ties to anchor your plants to the mesh piece that sits in the bottom of the aquarium.

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By now the fish had enough time to get used to the temperature of the water, so we poured the water from the pitcher into the aquarium and then added the fish. He looked great inside! We gave him some fish food and watched him explore his new home. We also decided on a fitting fish name – Leonard.

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Jack became immediately jealous and tried to push the aquarium off the counter, so we had to reconsider its location. We moved Leonard to a safer table and surrounded him with objects. There is a cover on top of the aquarium, and we were pretty confident Jack would not be able to stick his paws inside! He spent the rest of the evening sulking.

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A week went by, and it was time to change the water. We made sure the temperature was just right and poured the clean water in slowly. Sure enough water from the bottom came up through the tube, and emptied into the pitcher. It was definitely filthy water.

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Conclusion:
So far, everything is working out as we expected it to – changing Leonard’s water is easy, and he doesn’t seem to mind. We came up with a system to keep track of when Leonard’s been fed – blue card means he ate at night, and yellow card means he ate in the morning. If one of us gets home at night and sees the yellow card, it’s time to feed the fish!

And Jack, well he can’t get into the aquarium. But he did manage to knock it over once. Fortunately, my roommate heard the commotion and was able to rescue Leonard and get everything assembled again in no time. Nothing broke! So, while it’s not completely cat proof, it is still about the most successful aquarium we’ve ever had.

The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Personalities: Meet Valerie Baloga

October 8, 2013

UncommonGoods Customer Service Team Lead Valerie BalogaValerie Baloga, UncommonGoods Customer Service Team Lead

My hometown is…
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania

The best customer interaction I’ve had at UncommonGoods was…
It’s always really fun when a customer calls expecting a fight and hangs up completely blown away by how easily their situation is resolved. One of the great things about working here is having enough freedom to really listen to what each customer needs and then being able to offer a solution that is really specific to the situation.

I’m inspired by…
Right now I find I am most inspired by people who take life into their own hands and live their dreams. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

My guilty pleasure is…
’90s pop music.

An uncommon fact about me…
Before moving to New York in 2010, I spent one summer in Upstate New York, three summers in Maine, and an entire year in Richmond, VA working in theatre. I built and painted scenery and worked on props.

My favorite place to hang out in New York City is…
Prospect Park in good weather – and at the risk of looking like a huge nerd, the library. I frequent the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts and the Brooklyn Public Library.

My style is…
Casual. Comfortable. Colorful.

Working at UncommonGoods, I’ve learned…
I’ve learned so much, and I have acquired so many new skills – spreadsheets – they’re amazing! What I also learned, perhaps most importantly, is that some companies actually care about their customers and their employees. I’m so lucky to work for a B Corporation.

Would you rather… Tap dance OR ride your bike, in place of all of your walking?
I was all set to say bike, definitely. But then I thought, I might want to take the train sometimes, and how will I get up and down all those stairs on a bike? So I’m going to say tap dance.