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Gift Guides

Pinterest Contest: Happy Mother’s Day

April 16, 2012

Win up to a $250 shopping spree for you and your mom.* Just repin this image below to a Mother’s Day board, follow the instructions, and leave a link to your finished board in the comments below, or the pin on our Pinterest board.

Let your Mom know why she’s the best with this board filled with images that remind you of her. Don’t have an exact photo? No worries– be creative with these prompts and have fun!

We’ll announce the winner on May 4, so you and your mom will have plenty of time to shop together, before or after Mother’s Day. For every 50 entries we see, we’ll add $50 to the grand prize, up to a total of $250. So after you share your board with us, be sure to tell your friends and family to enter too!

*Or mother figure, or moms. Whoever you’re celebrating this Mother’s Day!

Gift Guides

Happy Birthday April Babies

March 30, 2012

Does someone you love have a birthday this month? Enter them to win a shopping spree at UncommonGoods. From now til April 30, you can tag your friend in this photo on our Facebook page and they’ll be entered to win. Leave a comment to let us know why your friend or family member is special to you, and why you hope they have a great birthday. Be sure to include their birthday! We’ll pick one lucky birthday girl or boy to receive a gift card to UncommonGoods.

And here’s the best part—for every 50 people you enter, we’ll add $50 to the grand prize, up to $250. So if your mother, sister and best friend forever are all April babies (and maybe you are too), you can enter each time.

You can also double your chances of winning a birthday prize for your favorite people by tweeting:

Hey @uncommongoods! Help me wish my friend @name a very happy birthday. http://unc.gd/Hs8uas

Is your birthday in April? You should enter yourself too. We know UncommonGoods shoppers are great when it comes to finding perfect gifts for the people they love, but we wouldn’t want you to forget yourself.

Treat yo self!

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Stackable Lunch Pot

February 22, 2012

Background Research: The Stackable Lunch Pot is a sleek, chic, airtight food porting device comprised of two containers that fit together in a quite nifty manner. The larger of the two holds 18.6 ounces; the smaller, 10 ounces. A fashionable matching spork is included.

Hypothesis: Some people–cough cough (me) cough cough – have trouble restraining themselves in the presence of tasty food, and need help with the dreaded “portion control.” Can the Lunch Pot help me keep a lid (har har) on my appetite despite the temptation of homemade risotto?

Experiment: The first phase of the investigation required the making of risotto that was delicious enough to be a formidable temptation. The following recipe yielded more than adequate results.

Pressure Cooker Brown Rice and Kabocha Risotto
-Notes:
-All measurements are approximate; risotto is very forgiving.
-You can use any winter squash — butternut, pumpkin, or acorn, but the beauty of kabocha is that the skin is edible so you don’t have to peel it.
-Recipe is adaptable to a rice cooker or ordinary pot, but
1) A pressure cooker does the best job of making brown rice become creamy the way Arborio does, and
2) If you don’t use a pressure cooker, you have to pre-cook the squash.

Ingredients
2 T butter, 1 T olive oil
1.5 cup short-grain brown rice (I used sweet brown rice because that’s what I had on hand)
1 small kabocha squash, washed, seeds, pith and stem removed, cut into evenly-sized 1” pieces
1-2 T dried sage leaves
3 ½ – 4 c chicken or vegetable broth
Large handful chopped parsley (Flat-leaf is a stronger taste)
Large handful shredded Parmesan, Romano or Asiago cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Melt fats over low-medium heat in pot of pressure cooker. Add rice and stir until coated with oil. Add sage and kabocha, stir. Pour in broth, stir. Put lid on pressure cooker and bring to full pressure. Lower heat as much as you can without losing full pressure. Cook anywhere from 18-40  mins (depends on the kind of rice you have; try 18 to start and if that’s not enough, bring up to pressure again and check after another 5 minutes. Lather, rinse, repeat if that’s not enough. Next time you try it, you won’t have to guess).

Turn off heat and let pot sit for 5-10 minutes, then use quick-release method to let off pressure.

Stir in parsley, and salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle individual servings with grated cheese.

The risotto-cooking phase of the experiment having been completed, the next step entailed filling the smaller of the two containers with the tempting substance, and larger one with salad makings (dressing was put in a separate small container from my motley collection).

I should confess that the thought of bringing only the small container of risotto goodness to work caused me some momentary sadness. My lab assistant, Rusty Marmalade, distracted me by conducting a spork inspection.

Despite my misgivings, when lunchtime rolled around at work the next day, the contents of the 10-oz. container were satisfyingly filling. Moreover, the container’s volume limit did, in fact, prevent me from eating too much.

Unanticipated Challenge: The Lunch Pot’s rubber gasket creates a vacuum seal that prevents air from getting in and leaks from getting out. It also prevented me from being able to open it the first time I closed it (fortunately before I put any food in it). There is a cute little instruction diagram inside the lid showing how to open it when the suction is too great for your strength.

However, I didn’t understand it. I tried to pry off the lid by pushing the spork upward, with no results. I tried a metal spoon–no dice. I emailed our vendor. They sent me this helpful video, which didn’t help me.

Finally, pushing the lid up with all my might, I managed to break it. My more intelligent co-worker, Cassie, noticed that the lid was meant to be screwed off. Not pried. Mystery solved.

Gasket Corollary: The green rubber gaskets come off, making it easy to thoroughly wash away any lurking food or bacteria.

Conclusion:
1) The Lunch Pot is a wonderfully-designed device both functionally and aesthetically.
2) The smaller container is the perfect size for a correct portion of any main dish, and the larger, for salad.
3) I am not an engineer. But I can cook all right.

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.