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The Uncommon Life

Our Pin the Halls Pinterest Contest Winner (Plus some Holiday Party Pinspiration!)

December 4, 2012

We’ve been singing carols and craving Christmas cookies since our Pin the Halls Pinterest Contest launched last month. We received just around 100 entries, so picking the winner wasn’t easy. Along the way, we discovered some great recipes, DIY ideas, and tips for planning the perfect holiday party. We couldn’t stand the thought of all this knowledge going the way of the fruitcake (i.e. not getting eaten up), so before we get to the grand prize winner, we’re happy to share these holiday honorable mentions.

The color-coordination and homey feel of Jenny’s board first caught our eye, but her pins that appeal to the stomach are what we love most. We think peppermint bark and sea salt caramels would be a hit with sweet-toothed holiday party-goers, and this gingerbread man in a hot chocolate hot tub is deliciously silly. (Though we do feel just a little bit bad about wanting to bite his head off.)

Mimi’s board also includes bountiful baked goods.

Petite whoopie pies, candy cane cookies, and red velvet cupcakes (in glass jars!).

Mimi’s DIY foodie faves aren’t limited to edibles, though. We also loved this gorgeous sparkling ice wreath.

We love the idea of a DIY party, and Amy’s board is packed with great ideas.

Goofy backgrounds for holiday pictures, a fully-decked table, and recycled paper gift wrap are a few of our favorites.

We adore this bit of decor–which can also double as an advent calendar or a fun way to display gift bags filled with party favors.

We also love the idea of incorporating vintage finds into the holiday festivities. Missy’s board features more than a few pieces the Ghost of Christmas Past would surely appreciate.

Vintage-inspired candy cane gift wrapping that Missy said reminds her of her grandma, red and white striped luggage that could double as an offbeat decoration, and vintage versions of some classic characters.

Another of Missy’s pins really stands out too, but not because of its vintage vibe. We just think this green Grinch martini would make a great addition to any party this time of year.

That sweet and sour holiday drink concludes our honorable mention round-up, but before you run off to throw a holiday bash of your own, don’t forget to browse the winning board.

Zillie Zallie’s beautifully blue-tiful collection strays from the traditional red and green, but still feels very jolly.

Her uncommon pins include frostbite mocktails (perfect for those who’d rather avoid the spiked eggnog), blue and white cake pops (that look delightfully like ornaments), candy doing double-duty as decor, and these luminous blue lights.

Please help us congratulate Zillie Zallie on winning an UncommonGoods holiday shopping spree, and don’t forget to spread the holiday spirit by visiting all of our favorite Pin the Halls boards to repin the recipe for your perfect holiday party!

***We had such a great time pinning and party-planning that we couldn’t wait until next December to hold another contest! Enter Pin the Halls–Part 2 for another chance to win a holiday shopping spree!***

The Uncommon Life

Food Art to be Thankful For

November 20, 2012

I’m thankful for art, I’m thankful for food, and I’m thankful that Jan Davidszoon de Heem painted this mind-blowingly gorgeous painting, “Festoon of Fruit and Flowers,” in about 1660. That’s 352 years of beauty so far.

This squirrel is thankful that he didn’t end up the way most “game” does in these old still lifes – dead.  We at UncommonGoods don’t sell anything that involves harming animals, and we also prefer animals to be safe and happy in art (including all the cats on YouTube, naturally). German painter Peter Binoit’s “Fruit and Vegetables, Roses in a Glass Vase, and a Squirrel,” painted in 1631 or so, is stunning, nutritious–and vegan.

The way the colors pop in this painting seems sort of modern, doesn’t it?.

This one, even more so: “Still Life,” 1618, by the same painter, Peter Binoit.

I suppose back in the day, painters liked to use fruit as a subject because it was a way to get bright colors massed in globs, before they (European artists, at least) thought up abstract painting. In Edouard Manet’s “Basket of Fruits,” painted in 1864, you can almost see the paint wanting to leap off the fruit and fly around on its own, without being obliged to resemble anything real.

Look what it’s doing with Van Gogh’s and Cézanne’s apples, below.

“Still Life, Basket of Apples,” painted in 1887.  (With all due respect to Vincent, I think they look more like some kind of squash.) Whatever they are,  each one has a mind of its own, and so did every brush stroke that made them.

www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/111436

Paul Cézanne , “The Basket of Apples,” 1893. Do those fruits appear to be obeying any laws of gravity or perspective that you know of?  How about that table–in what dimension does that exist?

Fooled ya. There’s no paint at all, here.  Photographer Rasbak’s “Sterappel” (star apple), 2004, is a real piece of fruit. Yet it looks more abstract than any of the paintings, and seems  if anything even more miraculous, because its perfect form wasn’t invented by humans.  Paging Georgia O’Keeffe.

We’re done with apples, but not incredible edibles. Not only were no fauna harmed during this blog post, but the flora staged a revolt. Van Gogh made apples look all crazy just because he could, and the vegetable kingdom returns the favor in Ju Duoqi’s “Vegetable Museum no. 16: Van Gogh made of Leek” (2008) (photo courtesy of Artnet).

Vegetables, fruits, painters, photographers and collagists in all media: I’m truly thankful for the talents and imaginations of all the beings, past, present, and future, who’ve created the art I love, the food I love, the art about food I love, and the art made from food I love.

And, because I have an inexplicable passion for produce with faces, these four tasty toys will conclude my post for today. Thanks, and have a wonderful Thanksgiving! (To gorge on 100% fat-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, sugar-free, vegan food art, check out my ongoing Pinterest collection.)

The Uncommon Life

A Windfall of Autumn Art on Pinterest

November 9, 2012

Due to an injury, I wasn’t able to go on a leaf-peeping trip this year, and I consoled myself by collecting autumnal art on Pinterest. It wasn’t the same, of course, but I found it hard to be unhappy while perched upon a comfy chair with a cat and a laptop and perusing fantastic art, like the great Hudson River School painter Frederic Edwin Church‘s “Autumn in North America,” above. Andy Goldsworthy. Rowan leaves around a hole, made on a sunny day in the shade, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, October 25, 1987.As I surfed, “curated” and pinned, several major themes of autumn art emerged; all so obvious that a child could guess them.  And so the first theme, “Made of Leaves,” includes some children’s artsy/craftsy projects (see sources at the bottom of the page), along with one by British environmental artist Andy Goldsworthy, “Rowan Leaves with Hole,” made in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in West Bretton, England in 1987.

Georgia O'Keeffe, "Autumn Leaves, Lake George, N.Y." (1924)

© Stuart Franklin/Magnum Photos

“Art of, but not made of, leaves” is my clunky title for Theme Two.  Russian painter Isaac Levitan‘s 1879 “Autumn Leaves,” Georgia O’Keeffe‘s 1924 “Autumn Leaves, Lake George, N.Y.,” British photographer Stuart Franklin‘s 1986 “Somerset county, Quantock Hills,” and this incredible leaf tattoo with silhouettes of a hawk diving after some rabbits that are hiding among the leaf veins, each satisfied several leaves’ worth of my forest of foliage cravings.

Paul Gauguin,"By the Stream, Autumn" in WikiPaintings

A Frenchman, an Austrian, a Canadian and a Chinese walk into a bar. “What’s shakin’?” asks the bartender. The Frenchman, Paul Gauguin (1885’s “By the Stream, Autumn“), the Austrian, Egon Schiele (1917’s “Four Trees“), the Canadian, Tom Thomsen (1915’s “Maple Saplings, October“) and the Chinese, Lin Fengmian (“Autumn in Jiangnan“; I couldn’t find a date but he lived from 1900 to 1991)  all answer, “The autumn leaves from the trees!”, but in paintings, not words. Which sums up Autumn Art Theme Three, “Trees,” and probably ends my writing career here and now.

Autumn Art Theme Four, “Golden Fields of Ripe Grain,” could easily have been subtitled “The Vincent Van Gogh Subsection,” because the man painted wheat field (“Wheat Fields with Sheaves, 1888) after wheat field (“Wheat Fields with Auvers in the Background,” 1890) , each more glorious than the next. But for contrast, I threw in Grant Wood’s slightly cartoonish “Iowa Cornfield” (1941) and Greek painter Nicolaos Lytras‘s more atmospheric “Fields with Haystacks” (I couldn’t find a date for it, but Lytras lived from 1832 to 1904). I like the way you can see the light reflecting off this painting; I’m so used to looking at computer images all day that it’s nice to be reminded of actual paint.

http://www.musee-orsay.fr/index.php?id=851&L=1&tx_commentaire_pi1%5BshowUid%5D=341&no_cache=1

Autumn Art Theme Five is “The Glory and the Power(less) of the Harvest.” Pieter Bruegel the Elder‘s 1565 “The Harvesters” makes the whole wheat scything thing look pretty chill. Giuseppe Arcimboldo‘s 1573 “Autumn,” a comic take on the season’s vegetable riches, is a good vibes-er as well. But Jean-François Millet‘s sad 1857 “The Gleaners,” one of the most famous paintings of all time, shows poor women gathering what’s left on the ground after the more fortunate have finished their harvest. Gleaning is still practiced today (though not usually while wearing long skirts), and there are non-agricultural, year-round versions of gleaning as well, which you’ve probably heard referred to as “dumpster-diving.”

Autumn Art Theme Six, “Vistas,” may look a lot like Theme Three, “Trees,” but I swear it’s different. These paintings have bigger scenes. More of a view. Are not 100% tree-predominant. There are ponds (Charles Burchfield‘s 1938 “October in the Woods“), mountains (Canadian Franklin Carmichael‘s 1920 “Autumn Foliage against Grey Rock“), and people (Van Gogh’s 1889 “The Garden of Saint Paul’s Hospital (‘The Fall of the Leaves’).” Totally more vista-y than Theme Three!

I saved my favorite vista for last. This one reminds me of the northern lakes in the state where I (and Cassie) grew up, Minnesota. “Hasta la vista!” say the geese in Tom Thomson’s 1915 “Round Lake, Mud Bay,” and now I must say “Ciao” to this blog post as well. Quack, quack!  (You don’t have to say good-bye to beautiful autumn artworks, though. There are tons more in my Pinterest collection.)

Kids' fall foliage crafts sources: Leaf Rubbing Fairy,  Leaf Finger Puppets, and Leaf Deer
The Uncommon Life

Positively Inspiring Reusable Graphics

October 30, 2012

Positivity is contagious. Sharing a kind word, a thank you note, or even a smile can start a chain reaction. With this in mind, Amy Humes created her Positive Message Graphics, reusable stickers that let you spread happiness, inspiration, peace, and the power within. We love Amy’s idea so much, we decided to take her message to the web. Feel free to pin, tweet, like, and share these encouraging buttons as reminders that optimism really can go viral.

These Reusable Positive Message Graphics are available as a set of 4 large canvas stickers, so you can place them anywhere where you or a loved one may look when in need of words of encouragement.

The Uncommon Life

A Humongous Pinterest Collection of Candy Art

October 26, 2012

One of the heartbreaks of adult life is not being able to go trick-or-treating. Sure, you can go door to door on Halloween night, but only with children, and you have to let them have all the candy. Boo!

One of the joys of adult life, on the other hand, is art. Fine art, crafts, paintings, photos, street art, whatever. It’s all good. And it’s especially sweet when it’s art about… CANDY.

Most candy looks like abstract art to begin with, so it’s a natural subject and inspiration for artists, photographers, and designers.  Look at this photo of Airheads Extreme Sweet Sour Belts by Steven Depolo next to Pop artist Gene Davis’s 1964 painting, “Sour Ball Beat” (above).

Controversial contemporary artist Damien Hirst‘s  famous “dot” paintings have often been compared, sometimes derisively, to candy. The candy will cost you about a buck; one of Hirst’s dot paintings went for $3.48 million early this year. Which is treat and which is trick? (Trick question.)

I may not be able to go trick-or-treating any more, but I can “collect” candy art treats on the Internets without gaining an ounce. In honor of Halloween, I amassed a humongous amount of creative, beautiful, fun, funny, happy, sugary art onto a humongous Pinterest board.

With apologies to diabetics, here’s a sampling of candy you don’t have to say “Boo!” to. Note: because it’s my board and I’m the decider of it, I chose to include gum and soda, aka “liquid candy.”)

“Portraits” of candy

Art made of candy


Art about candy

Candy-themed tattoos


Art made of candy wrappers


Halloween candy corn art

And finally…

A candy toothbrush

(Also, because we care about your dental health, a non-cavity-inducing one.)

Happy Halloween! (If you somehow haven’t OD’d yet, check out the entire Pinterest collection.)