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The Uncommon Life

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

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

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!)

The Uncommon Life

Delancey Underground: A Most Uncommon Commons

March 1, 2012

Here at UncommonGoods, we often emphasize the “uncommon” part of our name. But the “common good” part is just as important to us. When something comes along that promises a whole lot of both, we glow like Gummy Bear Lights.

Last year, our founder Dave Bolotsky signed on as an advisor to a very uncommon idea for the common good that’s being floated for the Lower East Side neighborhood of Manhattan where he lives and has long-time family roots: an underground park, proposed for a long-abandoned trolley car station that almost no one knew was there until recently.

This is what the station, officially called the  Williamsburg Bridge Railway Terminal, looks like now:

And this is how James Ramsey and Daniel Barasch, the visionaries behind the concept, imagine it could look if their fantastical and futuristic idea becomes real:

The site, which is owned by the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority; they run the subway system), was so under the radar that MTA management didn’t even know about it. Ramsey learned of its existence from a former MTA engineer who’d been working on a subway line underground during the 1970s. He and Barasch went to the MTA archives in search of more information and, eureka! They found the original diagrams of the station.

In March of 2011, the MTA took them on a tour of the cavernous terminal, and their socks were knocked off. Ramsey, who, for his own design business, had been developing the concept of “sunlight irrigation” — using solar panels, reflective dishes, and fiber optics to bring sunlight where there isn’t any — flashed on what the dank, dark space could be like if it were flooded with natural light by the method he’d been working on. There could be plants! Trees, even! A park!

The “Delancey Underground,” which the press has dubbed the “Low Line” in a nod to the much-beloved, three-year-old High Line park created atop a stretch of abandoned elevated rail tracks on the west side of downtown Manhattan, has captured the imagination of New Yorkers, who are neither over-supplied with open, green space nor accustomed to having prime real estate appear out of nowhere.

And prime it is: There’ll be plenty of competition from housing, retail and other types of businesses when the MTA officially requests proposals for the development of the subterranean space. Because the MTA is seemingly always strapped for cash, Ramsey and Barasch, who are determined to submit the winning bid, are putting together models showing how the park could bring in significant revenue without losing its primary function as a public space.

Because it naturally takes a village to create a neighborhood commons, they’ve also been approaching neighborhood residents, groups, organizations, representatives, and businesses, with the goal of crafting a proposal created through a community-wide process with input from all who have a stake in what happens to the site. Recently they launched a Kickstarter page in hopes of raising enough cash to build a working prototype of the lighting system.

For a pledge of $5000, you’ll get a 12″ 3D model of the full-scale park. Hmmm, that sounds like a very good uncomm– Oh, we know, we’ve overdone that particular bit of wordplay. Let’s just say it sounds awesome.

“Before” photo: Danny Fuchs for The Delancey Underground

“After” photos: Architectural rendering by RAAD Studio/James Ramsey

The Uncommon Life

Contest: Pin Your Dream Bedroom

February 27, 2012

Ok, be honest. Are you as obsessed with Pinterest as we are?

I certainly hope so, because here’s our first big Pinterest contest! Pin this image to a new board, fill it out following the guidelines below, and you’ll be entered to win a gift certificate to redecorate your bedroom!

Leave the link to your bedroom inspirations (or pin-spiration! Too much? It’s hard to resist) in the comments below and/or on the original pin in our Dream Home board and you’ll be entered to win.

We’ll announce the winner on March 9. How much that person wins is up to you. 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!

Follow us on Pinterest for more updates, and leave a link to your profile in the comments. We follow back!

Good luck and happy pinning. We can’t wait to see your brilliant boards!

The Uncommon Life

Love Songs We Love

February 14, 2012

I love a good love song. I’ll admit I always get a sappy grin on my face when I hear Etta James’ “At Last,” I spent way more time picking music for my wedding than picking out a dress (I ended up walking down the aisle to Tom Waits’ “You Can Never Hold Back Spring” and dancing with my Mr. to M. Ward’s version of “Let’s Dance”), and I have been the gifter of a ‘mixed tape’ more than once.

But I’m not the only one who loves a good romantic tune. With Valentine’s Day on the way, love is in the air around here, and my coworkers were more than happy to share their favorite love songs.

Karen, a purchasing associate, just got engaged a few months ago, and she was happy to share her go-to love song. She’s actually thinking of playing “8 Days a Week” by the Beatles at her wedding.




What is she getting her soon-to-be husband for Valentine’s Day? She’s looking past the chocolate assortment in the the heart-shaped box in favor of his favorite, Peanut M&Ms. She says she’d also like to get him a Growbottle as an inside joke. “I’ve killed his plants before,” says Karen. “He went away for a week once and all of his plants died.”

UncommonGoods buyer, Candace, also wants to get her fiance something with a special meaning. Since she met her fella in Brooklyn, they fell in love here, and they live near the Brooklyn Bridge, she’s thinking the Brooklyn Bridge Pillowcase Set would make the perfect gift.

While her favorite romantic song at the moment, “Bless the Telephone” by Labi Siffre, isn’t about Brooklyn, her dream Valentine’s date takes place here. She and her groom-to-be are planning a Feb. 14 visit to the bar where they met, then dinner at a romantic local restaurant.




And it isn’t just the ladies at UncommonGoods that get a little sentimental around Valentine’s Day. Customer service supervisor, Erik, shared his pick, “Cupid” by 112.




He says he likes love songs that show the how, “when you’re in a serious relationship with someone, it’s all about commitment.” He’s all about making his girlfriend feel special on Valentine’s Day. He says he likes to cook her dinner, because a home-cooked meal has more feeling to it. He also likes giving unique, handmade gifts, like the Glass Heart Vases.

Marketing assistant Rocky also thinks Valentine’s Day is best celebrated dining in and just spending some quality time together. He said he thinks the Bunny Couple Sculpture makes a great gift, because it symbolizes just hanging out with someone you love. And what song would he listen to while spending the night in? Stevie Wonder’s “As.”




Warehouse lead David’s perfect date is just the opposite. He says he likes to spend the day in the city with his wife. “[In New York] you can get off the train anywhere and find something great to do. You don’t have to plan anything.” Since he lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, he loves being able to head to Manhattan to walk in Central Park, check out the theatre, and visit museums.

He also has a sense of humor about romantic gifts, and gave his special lady Porn for Women. This laid-back take applies to his favorite love song too. David chose Frank Sinatra’s “Funny Valentine” because “Sinatra doesn’t talk about how beautiful of perfect she is, but how she has little quirks that he loves.”



Do you still need a last minute gift for your funny valentine? Here are our employee suggestions.


GrowBottle / Brooklyn Bridge Pillow Case Set / Heart Vases/

Bunny Couple on Couch Sculpture /Porn for Women

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