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The Uncommon Life

The Uncommon Life

UG Team: Meet Jackie and Philomena

March 22, 2012

The UncommonGoods team is just as quirky, fun and uncommon as the products we sell. With a current total of 113 awesome UGooders, our diverse team is expanding with over a dozen new positions open in various departments.

So who have we recently welcomed among the many new faces in the Brooklyn Army Terminal?

Meet Jackie.

Jackie started as a seasonal team member in October 2011 within the Purchasing department. Since her arrival, Jackie has impressed her team all across the board and made a dent in our Merchandising team. Jackie is now the new Assistant Buyer in Jewelry and Accessories.

What is your UncommonFact?

My two children are Swedish citizens, but I am not!

What made you choose UG?

I was looking to get into retail after years of working in manufacturing, and was extremely interested in the idea of working with a web-based retailer. A friend of mine, who works specifically with B-Corp companies, recommended that I look into job opportunities at UG. I was already familiar with the company as a customer but after reading about the vision and mission, including B-Corp accountability, I was very impressed.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up not far from NYC, in Pequannock Township, NJ. I have lived in Manhattan for 18 years – five different apartments in four different neighborhoods.

And what do you like to do on the weekends?

Hang with friends, go to the beach, farmer’s market, and cook Swedish goodies with the kids!

Along with Jackie, meet Philomena.

Philomena started as our Purchasing Administrative Assistant in September 2011 and has joined our team as the Inventory Planning Assistant. We were very impressed with her infectious can-do attitude and fun-loving spirit.

What is your UncommonFact?

People say that I’m strange because I own over 100 pairs of socks. What can I say? Keeping my feet warm makes me feel good all over! Also, I lived in Repulse Bay, Hong Kong for 1 month in 2005 – it was the experience of a lifetime. It may not be too uncommon, but to me, it was the most exciting thing I have ever done.

What has been your most rewarding experience at UG?

Working in the Purchasing department, and with UG as a whole, is a reward in itself. From day one, the people here have made me feel a part of something more than myself. What I most enjoy is the opportunity to continuously learn about the company’s operation on a day to day basis. The one thing that I admire most about this company is that there are no limits.

What did you do before coming to UG?

I worked as a coordinator for a food corporation, handling the daily operations of ordering food, paper products, condiments and other products for sale to the company’s customers. I was solely responsible for reporting the weekly, monthly and quarterly reports of all products sold within our district.

Describe yourself in four words.

Family-oriented, easygoing, fun and outdoor-loving!

These ladies are among the many new faces to join the UG team permanently.

If you are interested or know anybody that might fit in well with the UG culture, check out all of our current open positions at www.uncommongoods.com/careers. There are plenty of opportunities within Operations, Merchandising, Purchasing, Technology, and more!

The Uncommon Life

Winning Wordsmiths: Our Favorite Uncommon Haiku

March 22, 2012

When we announced our haiku contest, we knew our clever readers would present some great poetry, but we were blown away by the number (more than 250!) of uncommonly creative submissions we received!

The winners earned spots in our most recent email and took home the products they praised in their 17-syllable poems. Only one poet could win in each category, but we’re pleased to share some amusing honorable mentions.

Haiku email

We’re glad MaryAnne Kate took a moment to show off her haiku skills, even though she wasn’t interested in any of the prizes!

We also received this haiku by Carol Thurman after the contest.

Love Uncommon Goods
Always worth a second look
I missed the contest?!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We’re sorry to hear that Carol didn’t know about the contest. As you can see, she definitely has haiku skills! But, you never know, she may get another chance. We had so much fun reading everyone’s haiku, we might just have to hold another contest in the future.

As bloggers for The Goods, we also got a chuckle out of Nate Biddick’s clever name drop in his poem about the Tipping Teacups.

Uncommon tea cup
swings and steeps and swings and steeps
and you sip the goods.

And Diana McCartney’s haiku made us thirsty.

One cup black or white.
Hot, green, black or chamomile.
I like mine at night.

But Reanna Reiner took the prize by making us long for tea time.

tipping tea cups

While Reanna will have a new cup at her table the next time she sits down for tea, the winner of a new set of building blocks, Amanda Francis, is enjoying another table. She submitted this very uncommon entry:

Flourine Uranium Nitrogen – Carbon Uranium Boron Einsteinium – Sulfur Helium – Tungsten Hydrogen Iodine Sulfure Phospherous Erbium Sulfur
Yitrium Oxygen Uranium Thorium – Phosphorous Lanthanum Yitrium – Tungsten Iodine Thorium – Boron Arsenic Iodine Carbon Sulfur – Oxygen Flourine – Lithium Irone
Carbon Rhenium Astatine Electron – Germanium Nickel Uranium Sulfur Einsteinium

“Yes! That’s a haiku!” She explained. “Here it is translated into the elemental symbols:”

periodic table blocks

The last line of Amanda’s haiku is quite encouraging, but some folks chose to end their poems with punchlines. Kelly Brooks’ Owl Nightlight haiku started deep, but made us laugh in the end.

Oh, wise one who hoots
Light the pathway to the truth.
Or to the bathroom.

And Eve Schuyler’s winning words made us thankful for safe, well-lit walkways.

Owl Light

We also received some humorous entries for the coveted Stump Ring, but many poets took the sentimental route.

Farida Doblado’s rhyming haiku might also work as pop love song.

This stump may not grow
But my love for you does so
This I always know…

And Darla DeNyse’s haiku captures why the ring makes a great gift for a loved one.

Tree mighty and tall
Deep grows the roots in the earth
What a stable life

But Kat McNally’s winning haiku really captures what this beautiful design is all about.

Kat’s salute to the Stump Ring and the other winning haiku are just a few of the clever poems featured in our latest email. You can click here to read a variety of verses, or sign-up to have our uncommon emails sent right to your inbox.

The Uncommon Life

Rainy Days with Amy of A is for Ampersand

March 18, 2012

Hey there, champions! My name is Amy, and I run a silly little corner of the internet called A is for Ampersand where I blog about thrifting escapades, cats, diet coke, and adventures in my 1984 Westfalia Vanagon. I’m a designer and a writer, but mostly just a hoarder in the making with a raging predilection for all things pre-1980.

For the entire sum of my 25 years of life, I’ve always sworn by rain. And to be honest, I might be the only one in the entire universe that doesn’t worship the sun. I’m kind of like that witch in Sword in the Stone that hates sun. Know what I’m talking about? I’ve always dreamed about living in Seattle where it always rains. Seattle natives like to battle me on this, saying I’ll get sick of it. To them I say, yeah right.


Goggles Umbrella

So, here are five reasons why rain is THE coolest weather you know. All you sunshine lovers, get ready for a run for your money.

1. Gutter Boat Races
My #1 most awesome childhood memory is making little boats and racing them down the street gutters when it rained. We’d start those boats at our cul-de-sac and follow them alllll the way to the park, which was three blocks away. Why don’t adults do this? Lame.

2. Glorious Thunder
You can fight it all you want, but thunder and lightening storms are pretty much as gorgeous as it gets. Plus, sometimes the power goes out and you get out of work/school, which is always optimum.

3. Slothful Behavior Justification
Sometimes when it’s sunny, you feel like you really need to go out and do something. Yeah, that’s fine, but what about the days when you just want to have a bed-in for peace and start a Grey’s Anatomy marathon? On those days, rain makes this perfectly ok.

4. The Smell. THE SMELL!
You can’t fight it. Rain is THE best smell in the universe. It’s right up there with freshly baked cinnamon rolls and coffee, which both are great things to have on a rainy day.

5. Rain Painting
If you’re a rain hater, it’s probably because you’ve never rain painted. Set out some white construction paper and sprinkle powdered tempera paint on it. Watch as the rain drops blur the powdered paint and create magnificent art.

See? Rain is the BEST. So, next time it rains, grab your best umbrella, get those galoshes, and enjoy it. Happy spring!

The Uncommon Life

Sláinte! Here’s to the ‘Water of Life’ on St. Paddy’s

March 15, 2012

You might not feel particularly lively the morning after a festive St. Patrick’s celebration, but that doesn’t stop many from partaking in the “water of life” in celebration of Ireland. In other words, the rivers of Whiskey will flow on March, 17.

This golden-brown beverage has a rich history, so we thought we’d share a little more about Irish Whiskey.

Whiskey Stones

Whiskey Stones Gift Set

Uisce on the rocks, please.
Actually, whiskey as we know it came to be in Ireland. In the 6th century Monks used distilled grains as the base for medicines. They called it “Uisce Beatha,” in Goidelic, or “water of life,” thanks to its healing properties. (While some may argue that whiskey doesn’t have any healing properties, keep in mind that it is antiseptic and a pain killer.) Over time, the spirit became known as “whiskey,” a mispronunciation of “Uisce.”

Irish Spirit
Whiskey love spread across Europe over time. For example, to Scotland, where it developed in to Scotch. It’s said that Queen Elizabeth I enjoyed imbibing in the distilled drink, and Peter the Great once proclaimed, “of all the wines, the Irish spirit is the best.”

clover and little white flowers image by roens

Spell it how you want–just don’t spill it!
Irish Whiskey remains a favorite, and will certainly be enjoyed the world over on St. Paddy’s, but it’s competition has grown over time. English Whisky, and North American rivals like Canadian Whisky, Bourbon, and Tennessee Whiskey now compete with the original.

Each variety is unique, since the recipes are different. While we can’t help you distinguish the subtle taste differences between a Straight Bourbon and a single-malt Scotch, we can provide a little tip to help you determine wither it’s whiskey or whisky. Countries with an “e” in their name produce whiskey–like Ireland’s Whiskey. No “e” in the country means no “e” in the drink–like Scotch Whisky.

Whiskey Business
Since you won’t want to be caught drinking the wrong whiskey on St. Patrick’s Day, here are a few notes on what makes the original malt masterpiece truly Irish. First, as Tennessee Whiskey must come from Tennessee and Scotch must come from Scotland, Irish Whiskey must be distilled in Ireland or Northern Ireland from native ingredients. Also, true Irish Whiskey comes from a yeast-fermented grain mash that is aged in an oak barrel for a minimum of 3 years. Different brands of Irish Whiskey do have their own subtle flavors, so you’ll have options when it comes time to toast to good health. Sláinte!

Shot Spilz Glasses

Sources: Little Shamrocks, Tullamore Dew, Whiskey Guild, Real Men Drink Whiskey, The Kitchn

The Uncommon Life

Uncommon Film Festivals

March 14, 2012

A couple of UncommonGoods people are at SXSW this week; at the interactive part, not for film. But some of us who aren’t going (passive-aggressive pouting alert: orange) were perusing the SXSW site, looking at the film festival schedule, and saw this: “Big names, big talent: Headliners bring star power to SXSW, featuring red carpet premieres and gala film events with some major and rising names in cinema.”

Well, fine. Stars and red carpets help deals get made and careers get started. However, they are not exactly… uncommon. You can see them at Sundance. You can see them at Cannes. And now you can see them at SXSW.

But at none of the three big film festivals can you see “Downstream: Testing Trout,” (an underground cult of hardcore fly anglers in Ontario obsess over mayfly hatches and spinnerfalls while casting for trout in untouched waters),“The Bicycle Cap Made With Love by a Bike” (a bike and a sewing machine fall in love) “My Very Own Death (a man contests the claim by a scandal sheet that he died from an outdated yogurt), or “Self-Assembly of Bio-Inspired Peptoid Polymers,” (about the discovery of amphiphilic peptoid polymers of specific sequence that, in aqueous solution, spontaneously assemble into one of the thinnest two-dimensional organic crystalline materials known).

For those, you’d have to go to the International Fly Fishing Film Festival, the Bicycle Film Festival, the Atlanta Philosophy Film Festival, and the RidgeDance NanoScience Film Festival, respectively.

Welcome to the world of uncommon film festivals, where red carpets, major names and million-dollar deals are scarce and passionate devotion is in ample supply.

Just for fun, we made a list of some of the most intriguing-sounding film festivals we could find.
Grouped (somewhat) thematically, here they are:

DepicT! 90 Second Film Festival
The 15 Second Film Festival
The Ten Second Film Festival
A.D.D. Short Film Festival (sadly but kind of appropriately, this one was postponed indefinitely)
The 48 Hour Film Project (“you and a team make a movie—write, shoot, edit and score it—in just 48 hours”)
New York Cat Art Film Festival
Pet Film Festival
International Bat Film Festival
International Wildlife Film Festival
Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival

San Francisco Ocean Film Festival
International Year of Forests Film Festival

Princeton Environmental Film Festival
American Conservation Film Festival (ACFF)
Sustainability Film Festival
Possible Futures Film Festival (“film visions of the positive future that hundreds of millions of people are already living into and creating right now”)

Bicycle Film Festival
California Surf Festival
International Skateboard Film Festival
International Aquatic History Symposium & Film Festival (put on by the International Swimming Hall of Fame)
International Fly Fishing Film Festival
Action Sports Film Festival
Los Angeles All Sports Film Festival (films with “mental and physical competition for the sake of winning a prize,” with “sports” defined as “anything from auto racing to badminton and spelling bees to chess”

Food Film Festival (in association with the James Beard Foundation)
Food Justice Film Festival
Farm Film Fest (“documentary films about our food — who produces it, how it reaches us, and how it affects our health, our environment, and our local and global communities”)
Farm Film Fest (Chatham Agriculture Partnership (CAP – “films that focus on farms, farming, and farming issues”)
Farming Film Festival Video Contest (“Farmers need game changing solutions to meet rising expectations and costs. If you are a farmer, create a video that tells us about a game changing idea or technology on your farm. If you’re not a farmer, find one and help tell their story.”)

Handmade Puppet Dreams (“a touring festival of independent artist films exploring their handmade craft specifically for the camera”)
Strange Beauty Film Festival (films which are “strangely beautiful” and “beautifully strange”)

Rose City Steampunk Film Festival
Viscera Film Festival (female genre filmmakers)
Pollygrind Film Festival (“all about the darker side of cinema and the artists that bring those films to life;” held in Las Vegas)
International Festival of Darkness (“the best and the most macabre that the horror and sci-fi genres have to offer”)

NYC Mental Health Film Festival
Psychiatry Ethics Film Festival
Biomedical ethics film festival
Neuro Film Festival (put on by the American Academy of Neurology Foundation “to help raise awareness about why more research is needed to cure brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, autism, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis”)
RidgeDance NanoScience Film Festival
Nanofest: The Nanoscience Film Festival
YPOP Film Festival (solar films: solar flares, eclipses, etc.)

The Atlanta Philosophy Film Festival
San Francisco Atheist Film Festival
Interfaith Film Festival
Sikhnet Online Youth  Film Festival
International Buddhist Film Festival
San Antonio Independent Christian Film Festival
New York Jewish Film Festival
Nihilist Film Festival

Politics on Film (“an annual, bipartisan film festival based in Washington DC dedicated to providing a platform for films that tell stories of America’s politics and policies”)
Magic Lantern Video & Book Store Political Film Festival

BRIEFS: Erotic Shorts Film Competition

DisABILITIES Film Festival
NY Disabilities Film Festival
Sprout Film Festival (“film and video related to the field of developmental disabilities”)
Deaf Rochester Film Festival

GI Film Festival (“the first film festival in the nation to exclusively celebrate the successes and sacrifices of the service member through the medium of film”)

San Francisco Transgender Film Festival
Lost Aneles Transgender Festival
Post Alley Film Festival (“female-centric and eccentric”)

Legacy Film Festival on Aging
ALFA (Assisted Living Federation of America) Short Film Competition on Ageism

American Indian Film Festival
Los Angeles Asian-Pacific Film Festival
Black History Film Festival
Black Panther Film Festival
Boyle Heights Latina Independent Film Extravaganza
South Asian Film Festival
Urbanworld Multicultural Film Festival  (“dedicated to redefining the multicultural roles in contemporary cinema, television, and online by supporting the urban content creation community”)
Margaret Mead Film Festival (“the longest-running showcase for international documentaries in the US; from indigenous community media to experimental nonfiction”)

Black-Rock-City-Film-Festival at Burning Man

Found Footage Festival
San Francisco Silent Film Festival
The Disposable Film Festival (“short films made on everyday equipment like cell phones, pocket cameras, and other inexpensive video capture devices”)
Century City Cell Phone (Film) Festival

YouTube Your Film Festival
Vimeo Festival and Awards

And finally, we would be remiss not to mention UncommonGoods’s own

Film Festival in a Box

The Uncommon Life

10 Ways to Go Green for St. Patrick’s Day

March 12, 2012

Whether you’re Irish by blood, have the luck of the Irish, or just love a good celebration on St. Patrick’s Day, you’ll probably be going green on March 17. Of course, we’re all about celebrating another kind of green here at UncommonGoods. So we figured, why not take a double-edged approach with these green (and green!) goods.

Wearing green on St. Paddy’s will prevent you from getting pinched, but you don’t have to go overboard. Adding a few green accents to your outfit is a great way to show your Irish pride. (1.) Heli Belt’s are handmade using leftover fabric from tatami floor mats and (2.)Ellen Thurmond’s Tree of Life–Renewal necklace features green peridot on hand-shaped recycled sterling silver wire.

Whether you plan on dying your hair green or skipping the food-coloring-infused shampoo, a (3.)Recycled Glass Barrette will look lovely accenting your locks.

Once your perfect St. Patrick’s Day outfit is complete, you can start the party. Serve up green beer in (4.) Recycled Beer Glasses, which also happen to have a slight green tint, since they’re made from glass from car windows. And, if you prefer a mixed drink or something alcohol free, your beverage of choice will look nice in (5.) Protect Our Earth Glasses. These recycled Bordeaux bottle glasses were even called party “must-haves” by HelloGiggles.com.

When it comes to your centerpiece, take a cue from the lush landscape of the Emerald Isle and add a little vegetation to your St. Pat’s. Fresh-cut flowers aren’t always the greenest choice, but our (6.) Moss Terrarium Bottle is a fun DIY alternative. If your thumb is far from green, visit Local Harvest to find sustainably grown blooms and show them off in a (7.)Recycled Wine Bottle Vase, or skip the flowers all together and go with a handmade recycled glass (8.)Four Seasons Globe to ring in Spring.

The centerpiece won’t be the most enticing thing on the table, though. Celebrate with a traditional Irish meal of corned beef and cabbage, then use the (9.) Fresh Air Compost Collector to save the cabbage hearts and other unused portions for composting. And for dessert? These Beer Mug Cupcakes from I am Baker are too cute not to make.

From green beer to cupcakes that look like green beer, you don’t need luck (or a pot of gold) for your St. Paddy’s Party to be a success. But, the fun can only last one night, so don’t forget to take a few photos to capture the evening. Fittingly, your favorite will look fabulous on display in one of Margaret Taylor’s handmade (10.)Recycled Ceiling Tin Frames.

The Uncommon Life

Crowning the Winner of the Uncommon Bedroom Pinterest Contest

March 9, 2012


The decision wasn’t easy but the process sure was fun. Julia, Cassie and I, each admitted Pinterest-aholics, sat down to determine who created the mother of all pin boards for our Uncommon Bedroom contest. Our work was cut out for us with almost 300 entries, but I promise no arguments ensued. Sadly, there can only be one winner but we wanted to share the honorable mentions that kept us debating before we crowned our Queen of Pins.


We really loved Heather’s board for its rich jewel-tone colors and excessive doillies. We also appreciate the fact that her idea of breakfast includes Nutella and her idea of a bedtime story is Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling.

 


Nicole had some pretty uncommon items in her dream bedroom. We were drawn in by the fancy bathroom tile and stayed for the pebble pillows and little black dresser.

 


There seems to be a very consistent affinity for the color purple on Alexandra’s board. Check out the furniture made of repurposed suitcases and wine crates!

 


Kristi‘s board was full of rich purple hues, hidden closets and spooky details. Her zombie bed kept us talking for days (Do I smell a DIY…)

 


But the board that stole our hearts belongs to Carter. Her dream beach bedroom makes us long for summer, sun kissed cheeks and sand in our sheets. She put together a cohesive mood board with a combination of decorating styles and mixed media to create a beautiful story that ignited our imaginations.

Help us congratulate Carter on Pinterest and check out the boards that stole our hearts.

The Uncommon Life

Contest: Share your Favorite New Designs & Win!

March 7, 2012

We love reading voter feedback in our community voting app and we want to thank you for sharing your enthusiasm for new designs and talented designers with the chance to win!

Share your favorite potential products on Twitter and you could win an UncommonGoods gift certificate to help buy your favorite new design (or one of the existing uncommon products you’ve been pining for).


How it works:

1.) Pick one of the products up for voting that you think should become an uncommon good.
2.) Visit the voting app, cast your vote, and tell us why you love the product in the comments section.
3.) Follow us on Twitter and tweet your pick @UncommonGoods. Make sure to include a link to the product voting page.

We’ll pick 5 winners to each win a $5 UncommonGoods gift certificate. We’ll announce winners on March 19, 2012.*

Tips:

1.) Craft a clever tweet. Tell us why you love the product or designer in 140 characters or less. (Reading the product story can be a big help here.)
2.) Vote on as many products as you’d like while visiting the voting app. The products aren’t in competition with each other.
3.) Use the share buttons on the product voting page to encourage your friends to vote for the product you chose, or tweet @ your design-savvy friends to invite them to vote for a chance to win.

Could it be any easier? Yes! Here are a few examples to give you an idea of what we’re looking for. But, of course, you’ll have to show us up with even better tweets.

The Sari Bag has my vote @UncommonGoods! Handmade from recycled materials. Thumbs up! http://unc.gd/frlpW8.





Judie Bomberger’s family garden stakes should be the next good @UncommonGoods! http://unc.gd/frlpW8. They’re so rustic yet fun!





Please carry Little Paper Planes @UncommonGoods! My kids (& I) would love them! http://unc.gd/frlpW8.





I’m a-MAZED by the Labyrinth Game @UncommonGoods http://unc.gd/frlpW8! I’ll buy it even if I don’t #win!





I voted for Christina Kober’s fortune cookie #design @UncommonGoods http://unc.gd/frlpW8 b/c it would make an amazing gift for @mybestie!






We’ll choose the cutest, most clever, and most creative tweets to win. We can’t wait to see your pick and hear why you think it will make a great uncommon good. Happy voting and good luck!

*P.S. This contest is only open to residents in the 50 states and District of Columbia. (We’re sorry about that, but that’s how far we ship!)

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