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The Uncommon Life

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

Why is Austin so Angry?

November 10, 2011

The holiday season is rapidly approaching, and as gift-giving authorities, we’re doing our part to stay informed of recent gifting trends. Many gifts are given with love;  heartfelt and caring with tears of pure joy. Others are slightly more abrasive. For example, consider our F-Bomb paperweight. Over the past few months we noticed that certain cities were purchasing an irregular amount of F-Bombs. Perhaps, we thought, this was indicative of a broader trend.

Maybe there are cities out there that are full of angry gifters? We had to investigate. We put our heads together and decided to visit every city in the country, going door to door, soliciting hugs, and counting door slams vs. warm embraces. We figured that the cities which slammed the most doors were the angriest. However, the logistics were a bit hairy. We called Santa Claus for advice but his cell phone service was terrible (he lives in the North Pole). Discouraged but not defeated, we decided to scrap the hugs across America model and asked our Organic Search Analyst to pull city-by-city data on some of our angriest products. To be fair, we decided to look at some of our kindest products as well.

So what else constitutes an “angry” gift? Gun Vases do, obviously. The following cities ordered more F-Bombs and Gun Vases than average, so maybe they’re a tad angry. Or maybe that’s where all our cowboys and crime fighters are… you be the judge.

Cincinnati, OH – From 1978 to 1982, Cincinnati had its own Emmy-nominated sitcom, WKRP in Cincinnati. Perhaps they never fully recovered from the cancellation of WKRP. Now that’s something to be perturbed over.

Alexandria, VA – They’re very generous, lending out their zip code to neighboring Fairfax. Still, having to take the overcrowded Metro into DC every day must be pretty infuriating. Plus, with a state motto like “Sic Semper Tyrannis” (Thus always to tyrants), an attitude seems to be in their blood.

Los Angeles, CA – If any group of people is known for being moody drama queens, it’s definitely Hollywood stars and west coasters in show business. After all, a lack of seasonal change can be pretty aggravating.

Austin, TX – Legend has it that Spanish Gold is buried in Shoal Creek. Treasure maps have been sold, a Travis County treasurer allegedly embezzled county funds to find it, but the bounty has yet to be uncovered. How frustrating!

Houston, TX – According to the City’s Official Website, Houston is home to a vibrant, youthful population. Hormones are a raging in Houston, so we’ll assume the dark gifting is the result of teen angst.

Sure, the angry gifts are funny, but some folks would rather give a mushy gift over an amusing one. Also, friendly gifts are less likely to prompt retaliation from disgruntled recipients. To determine which cities had the most happy-go-lucky gifters, we looked at the sales of some of our sunshine-heavy products. If our Random Acts of Kindness Kits, 5 Rules for Happiness Paperweights, and Love Tokens aren’t material replacements for bear hugs, we don’t know what is.

Dallas, TX – It makes sense that Dallas is at the top of the list. We’ve all heard those stories of kindhearted, fun-loving cowboys. They’re everywhere in Dallas. Even at board meetings in office buildings…

New York City, NY – We’re glad to see our hometown in the top five! Maybe our study will put the “rude New Yorker” stereotype to rest once and for all. After all, we do have big beautiful parks, a rich art scene and world class dining (we’re not biased or anything). The city that never sleeps may prove that staying active is the ticket to happiness.

Atlanta, GA – Atlanta is home to the World of Coca-Cola. Perhaps caffeine could have something to do with this city’s overflowing kindness…maybe we should have looked at purchases after 2 a.m.?

Los Angeles, CA – Yes, we realize LA was on our Angry list. As we said, they’re moody! Angry, happy. Newlywed, divorced. Famous, broke.

Houston, TX – Apparently, Houston is full of extremes as well. I guess those last vestiges of Southern hospitality are holding strong. Much like the Texas secession movement.

This post was written by Cassie Tweten Delaney, Zack Notes and Nina Mozes, without any academic peer review or serious fact-checking.

The Uncommon Life

Family Photo Finish

November 7, 2011

On Friday, we asked our blog readers and Facebook fans to share their favorite family photos with us for a chance to win our new Family Traditions Journal.

We received a variety of photos, from funny, to traditional, to touching, and everything in between. We could only pick three families to win copies of this hand-bound book, but we thank everyone who entered for sharing a bit of their family history with us!

Our first winner, Christine, sent us this fun photo of herself with her little ninjas and the family kingpin. “My boys and I do Taekwondo, and I think sometimes my husband feels left out,” she told us. “So this year I planned our ‘Ninja’ picture so hubby could be included – he’s our Bosley!”

We love the photo, but we’re not so sure the boys will appreciate the Charlie’s Angels reference as they get older!

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The Uncommon Life

Giveaway: Family Traditions Journal

November 4, 2011

Every family has traditions. Some of them are big, annual events, like that special meal on your favorite holiday. Others seem smaller, like bedtime stories and inside jokes, but even those daily details help build lasting memories.

Our new Family Traditions is the perfect way to celebrate those memories and we’re giving away three, just in time for the holidays.

Whether it’s a plump turkey on Thanksgiving, Goldilocks and the Three Bears at bedtime, or a funny nickname with a funnier story behind it, the Family Traditions Journal is a way to capture those moments and pass traditions on from generation to generation.

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The Uncommon Life

Comments of the Week

November 4, 2011

Our Uncommon Ceramics Design Challenge semi-finalists are now up for community voting, and we’re already getting some amazing feedback!

We love that our community is weighing in with their votes and comments to help us pick the winner of a $500 prize and the opportunity for a vendor contract with UncommonGoods.

To start the comments roundup, we’re pleased to share posts from Chelsey and Giraffe, who each mention the amazing technical skill illustrated by Kyla Toomey, who entered her Button Series.

Our next voter didn’t love a design in our voting app, but the reason was more aesthetic. While Katie’s not a fan of the Teef Mug, Kim sees the humor and gave it a thumbs up.

We’re glad Ginny Waters’ design is making you smile, Kim!

While Katie gives “creepy” a thums down. Another semi-finalist, The Blob by Nereida Trujillo got an up-vote from Tasha for being a bit risqué.

We love to see our voters sharing their unique viewpoints! We welcome your opinions, and we can’t wait to see what else you have to say about our Uncommon Ceramics Design Challenge semi-finalists. Visit our community voting app before November 9 to cast your vote!

The Uncommon Life

Comments of the Week

October 29, 2011

This week our community voting app is popping with comments with staying power that won’t soon be erased!

As a matter of fact, CMT popped in to share an up vote for the colorful Pop the Dots Calendar.

Glad you love the calendar, CMT! If you want to see it enter our assortment, make sure to tell your friends to vote.

CMT found the perfect product, but Sharri’s still searching for one that will stand up to her high standards.

We figure she must really want to know who’s interested in the Titanium Multi-Tool Collar Stays to ask seven times over.

We think the the stays would make a great gift for fashion-forward on-the-go types, but Akiko and Karen answered the question for us.

Another potential product, the Deletus Eraser, generated a mini Q&A session as well.

While Josie can’t compute who would want to backspace the old-fashioned way, Susan and Tea hope this delete key sticks.

Thanks for the feedback, voters. We love to see this kind of friendly discussion in our voting app, and we can’t wait to see what you have to say about our next batch of fresh goods!

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.

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