Browsing Tag

DIY

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Jingle All the Way

December 8, 2011

Background Research:
Kim: When I first saw this item, I immediately remembered the recorder that I had when I was six. The only songs that I knew were ‘Hot Cross Buns’ and ‘There’s a Hole in the Bucket’, but I felt nostalgic nonetheless.

Kayla: I was so excited when Kim told me that we would playing the recorder for gift lab because in the fourth grade I had a recorder and even though I have no recent practice at all, I thought it would be a fun experience to live out childhood memories from a long time ago.

Hypothesis:

Kim: This could potentially be an epic failure, because I have no recollection of how to do this. I do, however, think it will be hilarious.

Kayla: The recorder appears to be a really simple instrument but I have no musical talent in my blood whatsoever and getting involved in this could mean huge embarrassment for me.

The Experiment:

Kim: Upon opening the item, I saw that there were no instructions on how to play the item. The one that I had as a child came with a book of songs and how to play them. I was starting to think that this might not be as easy as I had hoped. Thank goodness for Google.

Kayla: When we first opened the box together, I got even more nervous than I already was. I assumed that the item would come with a list of notes and how to achieve said notes, but the main idea of the project was actually centered on painting it. I was excited to find this out, but was still unsure of how I would ever learn the song ‘Jingle Bells’. At least Kim knew was she was doing.

Kim: Not entirely! The pictures of where to put your fingers for the notes are just different colored circles. Logically, the black circles are where your fingers go, but I wanted to be sure, so I consulted YouTube.

Kayla: But before we got to playing, we had to paint the recorder. We both enjoy pink, so we cheated and mixed the red and white… as it comes with white, red, and yellow. Our “pink” was more of a coral since we also needed white to pale our yellow – you know how picky girls are.

Kim: I was a little sad at first that the pink wasn’t the shade we were aiming for—a nice pastel—but the coral grew on me after a minute or so.

Kayla: We got done figuring out which paint colors would go where and went at it, too excited to sneak in a photo before we painted it. We were so focused on our video that we missed a lot of visuals. The recorder turned out to be very beautiful however, so we were doing okay in that department. Now the difficult part of the adventure…

Kim: The video was definitely the most difficult, but the most fun, as you can tell from our laughter. We weren’t entirely sure how we were going to make this a two-man job, so I grabbed a bell and my dog, Bebe, while Kayla practiced the song. We were hoping that the bell and the dog would deter people from our horrible playing.

Kayla: Thankfully, I picked up the song pretty quickly. It was a lot easier than I thought and I was really happy with the turnout. Yet, I was still embarrassed to play on film, as I am very self-conscious.

Kim: Personally, I think she was awesome. It was definitely better than my attempts. I’ll stick with my bell.

Conclusion

Kim: This was a really fun project. I had a great time doing it. I was also really inspired by some of videos on YouTube to learn newer, more modern songs. My only advice is to keep in mind that this is designed to be a one-person project, so it only comes with one paint brush.

Kayla: I had a blast with this as I love to paint and decorate things. Even learning to play one simple song was entertaining because it reminded me so much of being a kid again. This is a fun project for children or adults who want to act like children/remember childhood.

Gift Guides

How to Make a Gift Bag

December 2, 2011

I tend to procrastinate when it comes to gift wrapping. I purchase the gifts I want to give and stuff them under the bed or on a shelf in the closet until right before Christmas. Then, while I’m fantasizing about radiantly glazed holiday hams and sweetly spiced rivers of eggnog, I’m also faced with making a pile of presents bright and giftable.

Those odd shaped, extra-uncommon gifts pose a particular challenge. I suppose I could skip the fancy wrap and just stick bows on things that don’t pack up pretty. Or, I could put any asymmetrical or otherwise un-rectangular products in big boxes stuffed with lots of tissue paper, then wrap them. I go with option three–a fancy gift bag.

While the bow trick works in a pinch, it’s not nearly as fun to take off a bow as it is to find a surprise inside of pretty wrapping. I know this, because my husband is a huge supporter of “just stick a bow on it.” I do have to admit, it’s a step up from his other, “just hand her the thing in a crumpled-up shopping bag” approach.

The second tactic–put that hard to wrap gift in another box–seems like a viable option, but wrapping a box just right takes time and creates a lot of waste; you spend 20 minutes getting each crease perfect, only to see your lovely artwork ripped to shreds and tossed in the trash. It’s heartbreaking, really.

So, you can see why, for me, option three takes the customary yuletide fruitcake.

Not only are gift bags simple to use and reusable, they’re also easy to make. All you need is some heavy wrapping, construction, or scrapbooking paper and ribbon to create a sturdy, eco-friendly alternative to traditional wrapping. I picked pretty blue craft paper from the paper mezzanine at Pearl Paint here in New York. (Yes, that’s really what their paper department is called; it’s an entire sublevel–mezzanine, if you will– full of gorgeous papers for wrapping, crafting, and scrapbooking.) I wanted my bag to be festive, but not too Christmasy, so it could still be reused after the holidays. To fasten the paper, I used a Staple-less Stapler, but you could easily use a hole punch and stapler to create a similar effect.

First, make sure you have enough paper to cover the item you’d like to wrap. To wrap the Holiday Record Coasters, I placed the product in the middle of the top half of the paper, then folded the bottom up to completely cover the gift. It’s okay to make the bag a little bit bigger than you need it, just make sure the gift doesn’t stick out of the top.

Next, “staple” along the edges on both sides. The staple-less stapler will create interlocking flaps for a secure hold, but it also leaves a small hole where you punch. You’ll also want to punch once in the bottom left-hand and once on the bottom right-hand, just above the seam.

Threading the ribbon through the holes not only adds decoration, it also increase the bag’s sturdiness and create a handle. However, before threading the ribbon, make sure you have enough by measuring it against the length of the bag four times (once for each side, once for the handle, and once for extra ribbon to work with).

Start threading by inserting the ribbon in one of the bottom corners, just above the seam. Leave a few inches of ribbon, then pull the remaining ribbon up through the next hole in the side of the bag. Tie the two ends into a knot, and create a bow with the remaining ribbon from the short end. Using the long end, continue to thread up the side of the bag, looping around the outside edge of the paper.

When you come to the end of one side, leave enough ribbon to create a handle before continuing to thread down the opposite side.

Once you reach the end of the second side, pull the remaining ribbon up through the hole on the corner above the seam. Pull the leftover ribbon back though the final loop on that side, and tie it into a secure knot. This side won’t be as pretty as the bow on the opposite side, but the problem can be easily remedied by cutting off any excess ribbon and tying a new bow to cover up the knot.

The finished product uses no tape, glue, or staples (if you go the staple-less stapler route), can be used over and over again, and costs less than buying a pre-made gift bag. For an added touch, stuff the bag with leftover wrapping paper, folded into fans (or other origami shapes, if you’re feeling extra crafty), instead of using a new sheet of tissue paper.

Gift Guides

How To Wrap A Gift Box

November 18, 2011

With the holidays coming up, I wanted to show you a few ways to make your holiday gifts stand out in the crowd. Here are two easy tricks to wrap your presents so that anyone would think they’d been wrapped by professionals!

These gift wrapping techniques can be used for any occasion. I usually try to pick wrapping paper that goes with the theme of the gift, or something that suits my recipient’s personality.

I learned my gift wrapping techniques while working at Kate’s Paperie located in Soho in 2003. This is where I actually learned that I was good at arts and crafts. Along with gift wrapping, I would perform demonstrations on scrap booking, different ways to tie a ribbon around your gift, how to create your own greeting cards & envelopes, and much more.

If you have any questions, just leave me a comment!

Put your new wrapping skills to use. Find gifts for everyone on your list.

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.

Gift Guides

Last Days of Summer

September 7, 2011

The sun is still shining, the AC is still on, and we might be able squeeze in at least one more trip to the beach. No matter how you long you try to hold on to the lazy days of summer, it’s time to admit that the season is coming to a close. But don’t worry, before back to school bells ring and leaves start turning, there’s still time to have a little fun with these clever toys and activities for kids.

Continue Reading…

Design

Color Ball Kit

July 21, 2011

Color Ball Kit

Jessica said: “This is a wonderful idea and craft project. I know, as a mother of two, kids will enjoy this and have fun telling their friends that they handmade their own tennis ball. The price is very reasonable and teaches a good skill set. I would purchase this product!”

We’re having a ball choosing products for our community voting app, and we hope you’re enjoying sharing your feedback! Up for voting this week, the Color Ball Kit is a fun and easy way to get started felting. Add warm water and soap to the provided wool, then start squishing and watch the fleece turn into colorful felt as it covers the included tennis balls. Would these bouncy balls make a great craft project for your kids? A fun gift for an aspiring juggler? Cute toys for your favorite pooch? Visit our voting app and let us know how you’d use this creative kit.

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