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Baby Gifts

Gift Guides

The Three Little Pigs: An Uncommon Story

October 3, 2012

Once upon a time our buyers discovered a collection of whimsical children’s accessories from Jen List and Stacy Waddington. The short version is that we fell head over heels in love with these handmade upcycled fabric pieces and lived happily ever after. Of course, as in every fairy tale, there’s a little more to the story. So without further ado, the first chapter of our Storybook Collection, The Three Little Pigs.

But story time isn’t over just yet. The tale continues in chapter two: Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

The Uncommon Life

Raising Your Children Green by Oh Dear Drea

July 30, 2012

Hello! I’m Drea!

I’m a single mama to one beautiful daughter, Miss Marlowe Paloma. The two of us share a tiny home in sunny South Florida, just two miles from the ocean. I’m always striving to keep my home for the two of us as natural, organic, and earth-friendly as possible… vegan too! The choices we make in our lives and in our home will forever affect our children and all following generations. I like to know I’m doing what I can to help make this Earth and life a little more healthy, simple, and naturally beautiful for my little one. I’ve put together a short list of simple changes we can all make (or partially make) to live a more eco-friendly, natural life. I hope you enjoy!

Pesticide-free gardening (Weather permitting, not so much in the Florida summer.)
Herb and vegetable gardens are great. You know exactly what products/chemicals/pesticides are going on the herbs and vegetables you will be putting in your body. There are millions of natural and organic gardening tips out there to use in your home. Here is a list of some of the tried and true natural gardening techniques we’ve used.

Natural and homemade products
Toxins, parabens, and chemicals are a no-no in this household, as these are all bad for the body and many cause or increase your chances of developing cancer. Only natural soaps are going on our skin and on our countertops. You can find a list of my favorite beauty products (for mama and baby), here and even a natural deodorant recipe, here. The deodorant works, trust me… I work on a small, hot food truck, in the middle of summer, in Florida.

Organic, Unprocessed, Vegan Food
We try to buy organic food as much as possible. We keep processed foods to the very minimum. There are no chemicals and preservatives going into your meals (and your body) when you cook organic food from scratch. And of course, you get to share the joy of cooking with little ones. We’re proof that it most certainly can be done on a budget… take a peek at our pantry. Skipping out on processed, “convenience” foods sufficiently reduces your budget by taking out processing, shipping, chemical, and packaging costs. And it makes sense that being vegan would be a lot more inexpensive too, since you’re re placing animal proteins with legumes. Beans are cheap cheap cheap… and extra delicious. Being vegan is also 100% more sustainable for our earth, but of course, not everyone has to be vegan to be beneficial. Just being aware of where your food is coming from, and making a few conscious choices from there (such as one meat free meal a day), can make a big, big difference.

Cloth napkins
I try to eliminate paper products as much as I can in our home. It seems like a huge waste to buy something, just to throw it away. There is a drawer for dining napkins, hand rags, and counter rags. By using cloth, not only are we saving tress, but we are also eliminating any of the chemicals used in processing paper (such as chlorine). So it’s nice to be able to choose what soaps we want to use on our linens, we only use free-and-clear soap here. You can buy cloth rags just about anywhere. I’ve found some really adorable ones on Etsy. As an extra bonus, you can even find cloth napkins made from vintage and up-cycled materials, such as the ones from dot and army.

Cloth diapers
Cloth diapering is the best way to keep chlorine and other chemicals off tender baby butts. There are a ton of places selling them now, and there are so many different options and styles to choose from. As a bonus, outgrown diaper inserts make the BEST clean-up rags, as they are so incredibly absorbent. I’m still using Marlowe’s newborn diaper inserts in my kitchen, and she’s almost two now! And of course, it keeps our landfills free of hundreds and thousands of diapers. Even using one cloth diaper a day, keeps 365 diapers out of a landfill for the year! Amazing!

Drea picked out her favorite organic, eco-friendly baby gifts from UncommonGoods. Check out her collection here!

Maker Stories

Made (Green) in the USA

May 3, 2012

Our friends at Green 3, Jim and Sandy Martin, have helped us add some fantastic uncommon goods to our assortment. From adorable babywear like the gnome babysuit and hat and matching blanket, to the perfect-for-a-breezy-spring-day reclaimed t-shirt scarves, to the summer-friendly update on the popular recycled sweater skirt, the recycled bridesmaid dress skirt, the Martins know eco-friendly fashion.

Sandy and Jim. photo via Oshkosh Chamber of Commerce

Jim works closely with our product development team to create unique clothing and accessories exclusive to UncommonGoods, like the bridesmaid dress skirt and the comfy, casual recycled dress shirt robe. We love that these products come from recycled materials, and many are even created with the help of organizations working with disabled adults.

“My wife Sandy started the company,” he told us. “She grew up on a farm in Michigan and saw firsthand the negative implications on the farmer’s health when they are exposed to chemical pesticides on a daily basis. She felt strongly that her company would focus on sustainable fibers that caused the least damage possible to the environment.”

Causing less damage to the environment means using organic cotton, like that in Green 3’s babysuits, and reusing materials when possible.

Sometimes those materials, like the sweaters used to make recycled sweater scarves, come from thrift stores. Others are leftovers from apparel manufacturers. “We actually look at what types of fabrics are available to us, and then design into the fabric,” Jim explained. “Certain fabrics lend themselves to specific applications and steer us into new product categories.”

Clockwise from top left: A Green 3 Artist hand-drawing a graphic / Green 3’s warehouse storing reclaimed and excess fabrics / Tina, an in-house sewer at Green 3 headquarters.

Once the fabric is in hand each piece is inspected individually to insure it meets aesthetic and quality standards. Thrift store items are washed before being deconstructed and prepared for cutting and sewing, so even though the garment created may be made from secondhand materials, it’s as good as new.

The processes of selecting, inspecting, and preparing fabrics and creating the final products are all done in the United States. “Sandy and I had both been in the corporate apparel industry for over 20 years. During that time we watched a steady flow of jobs going overseas,” said Jim. “We just felt strongly that we could do it here and bring a few jobs back. What we’re finding is that we’re not the only ones that feel this way. More and more like minded companies are partnering, and quickly it is becoming more than just a few jobs. In our community alone we employ 20 people. But our network of partners employs thousands.”

One partner helping Green three create handmade upcycled products for uncommon goods is Aspiro, a non-profit organization offering job training and career options to cognitively disabled adults in Green Bay, Wisc. “We contacted Aspiro after learning of them through a news report,” Jim said. “Their facility has been doing cut and sew work for years and they have a highly skilled labor force. When we toured the facility and saw the pride and passion of the workers, and how this opportunity for independence positively impacted their lives, we knew wanted to support the initiative any way we could.”

Reclaimed T-shirt Scarf / Dress Shirt Robe / Recycled Sweater Scarf / Recycled Bridesmaid Dress Skirt / Gnome Babysuit(TM) & Hat / Gnome Blanket

By partnering with Green 3 and other apparel manufactures, the skilled sewers at Aspiro earn fair wages and are given opportunities for independent living.

Thanks to these dedicated workers, secondhand and leftover fabrics, and the imaginations of Jim, Sandy, and the talented designers at Green 3, we’re always seeing updated products and trendy upcycled fashions. Which Green 3 design do you love most?

Gift Guides

Baby’s First Christmas Gifts

November 21, 2011

When our Twitter contest winner Jodie told us she’d be spending part of her $500 UncommonGoods shopping spree on her young nephews, we got excited to help her pick out some fun kids gifts!

Her youngest nephew, Mark Anthony III is 8 months old, so this will be his first Christmas. We know that parents often think baby clothes and booties are adorable, but we decided to skip the apparel and go right for the fun stuff! We thought Mark Anthony would have a better time playing with these cool toys than sitting around just looking handsome in a babysuit.

Stacrobats- These stackable acrobats are colorful, soft, and help your little one develop dexterity and coordination.

Pull Along Cowboy- A modern take on the classic pull along toy, the cowboy kicks up his boots as his trusty horse gallops along when pulled.

Lollacup- This little penguin looks like a fun toy, but it’s actually a special straw cup designed to help baby drink comfortably and minimize spills.

Organic Cotton Teethers Veggie Crate- Made of 100% hand-picked organic Egyptian cotton, these vibrant veggies help soothe baby’s gums as new teeth come in and aid in imaginative play as the little one grows!

Repurposed Sweater Animal Mittens- We know we said we were skipping the baby clothes, but these comfy mittens don’t really count. They’re pretty much stuffed animals for little hands, so even though they do keep fingers warm, we bet they’ll make baby’s list of favorite toys.

Giraffe Lovie/Blankie- Providing the security of a baby blanket and the fun of a stuffed toy, the Giraffe Lovie is made for close contact with sensitive skin. It’s made from certified organic cotton fabric and contains no chemical dyes, so you’ll feel comfortable letting baby get comfy!

Peek O Fabric Activity Box- Baby will be surprised when he opens this fun gift, and the surprises keep getting better! The interactive box includes a variety of panels featuring fun activities, and the best surprise, the stuffed dog who lives inside the box.

Indestructible Nursery Rhymes- Indestructibles ™ live up to their name! These illustrated books are tear-resistant, drool-proof, and dishwasher and washing machine safe.

Like these baby gift ideas? We have many more where these came from! And, if the kids in your life are a little older, don’t forget to check out our gift guide inspired by Jodie’s older nephews.

Need a personal recommendation for your favorite nephews? Leave a comment or tweet @uncommongoods !

Design

Comments of the Week

November 11, 2011

We’ve wrapped up our Uncommon Ceramics Design Challenge, and our community voting app is once again filled with fab finds submitted by our buyers. They’ve picked some great products this week, and it looks like our community is super excited about two categories: baby goods and gardening gifts!

The first miniature marvel up for voting is a pair of cool shades. Baby Aviator Sunnies look like grown-up glasses, but are made just for kids.

We agree with Michelle, and also want to add that these sunnies don’t just look cute while protecting little eyes from UVA and UVB rays, they’re also extra durable. The frames are made of rubber and the lenses are impact and shatter-resistant acrylic material, so they’re baby proof.

David pointed out that dropping the glasses isn’t the only thing parents have to worry about. Babies are also pretty great at sticking weird things in their mouths.

We won’t make any claims to the nutritious value or flavor of these aviators, but we can confirm that they are BPA and phthalate-free, so baby can gum, suck, and teeth on them without inducing parental fear.

Another baby good, the Nappy Mat, has gotten a mixed response.

While Nicole seems a bit bummed about too many bundles of joy in the world, JoBeth’s comments lead us to believe that she supports procreation (and organic, recycled goods).

Now switching gears from growing children to growing plants, the Seed Pot Maker is also getting some great feedback.

While Christina may not know many amateur horticulturists, Liane and Mary think this wooden wonder could make a great gift.

Do you agree with Liane’s theory that gardeners will eat this new design up? Is Mary right that it’s a great niche gift for someone special? Or, do side with Christina? We’d love to hear what you think of the Seed Pot Maker, these baby gift ideas, and the other items up for review in our community voting app this week!

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!

Continue Reading…

Design

Comments of the Week

October 21, 2011

Our latest top commented voting app additions include a posh pillow (that’s also comfortable), a peaceful keychain, a nosy little eyeglass accessory, and books your baby is sure to love. We’re glad our voters are telling us just what they think, and we hope you’ll join in the feedback fun, too!

We’ll kick off our comments with some kind words for the Pweebo “Posh” Pillow.

We’re glad you love this soft, function design, Beth! We know you want to meet the needs of your demanding couch, so remember to tell all of your friends to vote for these colorful pillows!

Our next voting app visitor also left some praise for an item under consideration.

It’s looks like Gionne loves the Bomb Keychain, but forgot to vote Thumbs Up.

Carole, on the other hand, remembered to raise her thumbs for the Nosy Eyeglass Holder.

Thanks for the great feedback, Carole. Glasses can be spendy, and this wooden holder can help you keep track of them.

Although Mary Margaret thinks the eyeglass holder is cute, she disagrees with Carole.

But never fear, she did find something she loves in this week’s selection.

We’re glad you like the Indestructible Nursery Rhyme Book Set! This is just the kind of feedback we love to receive in our community voting app. It’s thoughtful, constructive, and friendly. Thanks for sharing your insights with us, Mary Margaret!

Do you have something to say? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Visit our voting app to comment on these and other uncommon goods!

Design

Comments of the Week

October 14, 2011

This week our top comments come from voters telling us what they think of a little book that lets kids have fun with food, porcelain bowls that look good enough to eat, a kit that’s sure to be a cup of tea, and special pillows to celebrate new babies.

We’re glad you love Melanie Mckenney’s Salsa Bowl Trio, Karen! Although we don’t have a bell pepper bowl up for voting, we do have another scrumptious design– her Cantaloupe Bowl Set.

Speaking of scrumptious, another item up for voting this week, My Food Passport , makes trying new foods fun. But Kimberley isn’t so sure it would do the trick.

If it were full of foods like ice cream and pizza, you probably wouldn’t need the passport. Although some of the foods may seem strange to kids, they’re worth a try! We think this handy book might just help your picky eater discover that they love mangoes, mushrooms, or avocado. We’re glad to see that Liane and Cassandra agree.

Since we’re on the topic of having fun with food, we’ll also take a look at a comment from Patricia, who’s ready to have fun with a drink.

Thanks for the comment, Patricia! We want to see your vote as well. If you love the Tea Leaf Reading Kit don’t forget to give it a “Thumbs Up” in our voting app. You can also leave your email address, if you’d like, and we’ll let you know if we decide to carry this product.

We offer the notify feature on all of the products up for voting, but Summer isn’t interested in an announcement.

It didn’t take long for Jana to step in and explain why these Birth Announcement Pillows would make great gifts.

Which of our top commenters do you agree with? We’d love to hear your opinions on these (and many more) potential products up for voting in our community voting app this week!

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