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Fantastic Finds for the Family

October 28, 2015

Fantastic Finds for the Family | UncommonGoods

Finding a gift for the whole family can be tricky, especially when each member of the group has a very different personality from the next. You could go with the standard “Happy Holidays to All of You from All of Us” fruitcake, but we think that one of these unique gifts might suite each of their individual tastes a little better. (While promoting family bonding, togetherness, and all that sweet stuff. Now that takes the cake!)


Personalized Family MugsDad takes it black, mom likes a little milk and sugar, and the kiddos stick to hot chocolate. Now each member of the family can enjoy their favorite drink in their own special mug. | Personalized Family Mugs

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Gift Guides

How to Celebrate your Baby Bump with the Belly Art Casting Kit

July 30, 2013

My wife and I just welcomed our new baby into the world, but before his arrival we wanted to do something special so we would always remember that beautiful baby bump. With 5 weeks left to go – we decided that it was time to cast the belly.

Belly Art | UncommonGoods

Using our Belly Art Casting Kit from UncommonGoods, we recruited help from our 5 year old. At first glance, because of all the components and 4 page instructions, the process appears some-what complicated.

However, we soon learned that even a 5 year old could do it, literally.

The kit comes with a large plastic sheet that SHOULD be used to cover the floor and surrounding furniture – it will get messy- and a bottle of Vaseline to rub on the areas of application (don’t be shy – apply as much as you can).

Getting Ready The kit also comes with a dry plaster roll which should be cut into strips. These strips are to be dipped into a warm bowl of water (the smaller the bowl, the smaller your strips should be cut). Also, the strips should be cut over the plastic covering because powdered residue forms as you are cutting. Latex gloves are also included – highly recommended – took me a while to get the plaster off my fingers when it dried up.

Once the strips are cut, Vaseline is applied and you have your warm bowl of water, simply dip the strips into the bowl and apply and rub into the areas that you want to cast.

Julian 1Julian 3Make sure you layer a few times – the more layers the better it will look. Also, remember to refill water as it cools off – the warm water has a much better effect as the plaster dissolves.

Rubbing it in also helps for aesthetics on the finished product.

Once all areas are covered and layered – let dry for about 15 minutes. Then, it simply pulls right off.

Belly Art |  UncommonGoodsLet dry overnight and then use the tool included within the kit for sanding and sculpting.

Finished Belly Cast | UncommonGoodsThe whole process took less than an hour and was so much fun. We used the plaster belly for the baby shower and had attendees sign it – similar to how one would with a broken arm cast. Now it works great as a bedroom decor piece to show our baby where he lived for 9 months.

The Uncommon Life

Our Fabulous Mothers

May 6, 2013

We all have moms. It’s a natural fact. Odds are, she’s a really fabulous lady. Meet the moms of UncommonGoods ladies and find out what made her such an amazing mother when we were growing up.

As a child living in the Bronx, my mom always made sure I was in contact with my family who lived in Brooklyn. We traveled long train rides to be in touch with my grandparents and cousins. As an adult, I look back and realize those trips meant a whole lot, because we built bonds and my cousins are like my sisters and brothers.

Ne’Quana Rollings, Merchant Assistant

She always encouraged me to put school first.

Melissa Bishop, Associate Buyer-Children’s & Leisure

My mom is literally the kindest and most understanding person I know. She has truly taught me what it is to love unconditionally.

-Liz Minch, Graphic Designer

She used the fact that she is a single mother (and has been most of my life) as her driving force to always go the extra mile. As a child, she always gave me everything I have ever needed and most of the things that I have wanted, even when she didn’t have enough to take care of herself. What I am most appreciative of, though, is that instead of spoiling me rotten, she used “tough love” to push me to be self-sufficient and rely on no one but myself. Without that, I don’t know that I would have the same drive that I do to succeed and get what I want out of life.

Kimberley Fargiano, Quality Control Specialist

Recalling my childhood, I would probably say that the most extraordinary thing my mom did for me when I was young was that she never doubted me.

I can’t remember her ever saying anything negative about any dream or wish I’d ever expressed.
And even now, so many years later, she remains a positive force that still is there to absorb all of my thoughts and dreams, and all of my children’s wonderful hopes and wishes.

Jackie Udden, Assistant Buyer-Jewelry & Accessories

I have never seen my mom wear high heels and I’m pretty sure she was barefoot at her wedding. But for someone who never puts product in her hair and considers Blistex Chapstick her makeup essential, I think she looks pretty awesome! She definitely taught me that beauty comes from the inside.

-Hannelore McElheny, Graphic Designer

She read us the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr instead of bedtime stories and fastened a “Question Authority” pin on my denim jacket.

Gaby Dolceamore, Community Outreach Coordinator

My mom would let my brother and I turn our family room into a fort and leave it there for DAYS. We could play endlessly and always let our imaginations wander. She has always been so supportive and encouraged our creativity.

Abigail Truet, Marketing Assistant

My mom makes Martha Stewart look like a hack. Because of her I think I can pull any three items out of my fridge or cupboard and make an amazing meal – which is just not true. From watching her I learned a very important life lesson: things that look special, and things that feel special, are not effortless.

-Rebecca Marshall, Senior Graphic Designer

No matter how hard the wind blows, she’s always there to catch my hat before it hits the ground. Being there for all my learning experiences, the frustrations of adolescence, even the transition into adulthood. My mother has been there for it all with a smile on her face and warm words to follow.

-Sheronne Peters, Purchasing

When I was younger, my mother would tell me the story of the three little pigs at bedtime every night – but with new characters and variations at my request. Some nights the big bad wolf would huff and puff at a house made of jelly beans. Some nights it would be jello. Sometimes I’d give the three little pigs new names – AA, BB, and CC were popular at one point. I was a strange child.

Tiffany Jyang, Product Development Associate

Being a young, single mother was tough and unplanned and my mom probably never realized the extraordinary gift that she was imparting on me. She provided me with a home in which I was surrounded by four independent, strong-willed, and unique women. From my grandmother, aunts and especially mom herself, they each taught me valuable lessons that ultimately shaped who I am today. My childhood home was brimming with personality, laughter, love, and beauty regimens. I was taught that it is ok to pick up a paintbrush and climb trees, that it is ok to be someone else’s family to those without, and that sometimes it is necessary to work the night shift to put food on the table.

Jessica McDonough, Senior Graphic Designer

Gift Guides

Melissa’s Game Night: Rollick!

February 18, 2013

Welcome back! This edition of Game Night actually features a get-together I had a while back. (As you can see from the shorts. One plus, though, now I’m in the mood for some warmer weather!)

I was looking through old photos, and realized that I had a hilarious photo shoot of my friends and myself trying out the game Rollick! that we brought into the assortment this past summer.

This game is like a backwards version of charades – instead of one person acting out each clue, you divide up into teams and act out the clue as a group. Being the rebels we are, we didn’t actually follow the rules, and instead nominated 2 people per card to get up in front of the group and make fools of themselves (the boys were particularly good at this).

My sister and I had a particularly special moment where we tried (relatively unsuccessfully) to act out what a magic carpet ride would look like – we eventually got people to guess it when we cheated and hummed the song from Disney’s Aladdin, and then she jumped into my arms at the end.

The gameplay was definitely hilarious and highly interactive – we were giggling (ok, more like rolling with laughter on the ground) the entire time, and even though we didn’t play by the rules or even keep score, we still managed to get competitive over who was the best actor. Hint: it was not me.

I think this is a great game for a span of ages – it is something that the young and the old can get involved in together, and I can see this being great for a family game night.

I’ve had a few game nights since, but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to share this one with you, so stay tuned for those posts to come! I am always playing the games that I’m considering bringing into the assortment, as well as sometimes grabbing the ones we already have on site, so please feel free to leave a comment below and let me know if there is any particular game you want to see played.

Till next time, kids!

Check out more of Melissa’s Game Nights to see her play Kwizniac and ZinZig!

The Uncommon Life

Ping Pong Pop Culture

December 14, 2012

Imagine England in the 1880s – unpaved streets, horse-drawn carriages and all. That, my friends, was the setting for the creation of the beloved and time-honored game (sport!) of Ping Pong. Since then, Ping Pong has traveled the globe, become an Olympic sport, and not surprisingly made a few cameos in popular culture. How many of these Ping Pong guest spots do you remember?


Pong, America’s #1 game of the 1970s, came complete with an advanced display of white lines for paddles and a blip for the ball. But don’t let that sophistication fool you. Pong is one tough video game to crack. Even pro tennis player, Andy Roddick, was given a run for this money against Pong.


Forrest Gump
While life may be like a box of chocolates, it’s with his Ping Pong serve that you never know what you’re going to get. Forrest Gump was a natural, “like a regular duck in water (whatever that means).”


NBA Draft
Americans have been testing their luck every weeknight one local lotteries pulled on numbers ping-pong balls. And since 1985, the NBA has used these tiny spheres of celluloid to determine the fate of team line-ups.


Balls of Fury
Instead of a cameo, the game got a starring role in Balls of Fury, a coming of age story about a boy, who seeks justice through overly dramatized Ping Pong matches. As Master Wong says, “Welcome to the underbelly of Ping Pong, where fortunes are won and lost. I’m exaggerating, of course, but you get my point.”


Pong (the other kind)
Another time honored tradition, perhaps the most minimalist and interesting adaptation to the game, involves nothing more than the Ping Pong ball (and some cups, of course). This variation tests true dexterity and hand-eye coordination. But for some reason in this game, the longer you play doesn’t necessarily mean an improvement in skill.


Celebrities have taken to the beloved game. (In fact, there is a website dedicated to this fact.) Even the Fab 4, tried their hand at Ping Pong. Yes, the facial expressions do make one’s returns more accurate.


Night Clubs
Yes, you read that right! Ping Pong social clubs are popping up in major cities across the country. You can reserve your own table and make new friends over a little friendly competition.

For those of you who aren’t fortunate enough to live near, such an establishment as avant-garde as the Ping Pong social club, don’t fret! You can create your own friendly competition in the comfort of your own home with a Portable Ping Pong Set.

May the serve be with you! Let the serves ever be in your favor! (That concludes my attempt at movie puns.)

Maker Stories

‘Tis the Season To Get Ready for the Holiday Season

November 9, 2012

‘Tis the season for the leaves to change color and the days to get colder–signs that the holidays are fast approaching! Our team here at UncommonGoods is getting ready for spending time with family, the merriment of holiday parties with friends, and lots of delicious family favorite foods.

But with all this planning at home, there’s still work to be done at UncommonGoods HQ. We’re preparing our warehouse with unique gifts and necessities for the season, so you can find the perfect gift for that hard-to-buy-for person (come on we all know one!). But of course, we’re not the only ones having fun preparing for the holidays. We asked our designers, Jim Martin of Green3 Apparel, Josh McGlothlin of Icebox Knitting, and Jamie Cornett of Instrumental Lighting to share how they get ready for the holiday season.

The holidays are a crazy time of year at Green3 with orders pouring in for their one-of-a-kind reclaimed products. Jim says the demand really “keeps our team hopping!” Despite the demand, the Green3 team is solid, knowing exactly what to expect during the holiday rush. The team gets an addition during the holiday season, in the form of energetic college students home for the holidays. As if getting ready for the holidays didn’t give Jim enough on his plate, he is also a judge in our Upcycling Design Challenge!

This holiday season, Jim is excited for items that use reclaimed Christmas sweaters and reclaimed men’s ties, like the Necktie Skirt and especially the Recycled Holiday Sweater Skirt. These fun products make a statement not only in their unique beauty, but also in their eco-friendliness. Jim sources the materials for the reclaimed products from vintage wholesalers, who are collecting these ties and sweaters throughout the year. But the team doesn’t let the wholesalers have all the fun in the collection process, they scour markets and resale shops for their own vintage apparel finds.

After all the ties and sweaters are found, the reclaimed products are skillfully crafted, and the many orders are placed, we asked Jim if he finally takes a vacation. His response, “I’m not familiar with that vacation word?” All jokes aside, come January Jim is at work on the trade show circuit traveling all across the country from Atlanta to Chicago to New York and more. But, it’s not all work during the holiday season; Jim looks forward to spending time with his family, especially his daughter, who will be home from college.

At Icebox Knitting, the team is getting ready for the holiday season by getting in the holiday spirit. Josh recalls that thousands of sweaters arrive at the factory throughout the year to prepare for the holiday rush. Some of the sweaters have their own “interesting styles.” This year, the crew has chosen their favorite holiday sweaters to wear. Josh loves the Icebox Knitting “formal wear” or as you might know them glitzy black and gold holiday sweaters. Perhaps this is the start of a beautiful new holiday tradition!

Aside from this new tradition, Josh is excited for the Reclaimed Sweater Link Scarf and the Upcycled Knit Handwarmers. Both products are artfully crafted and Josh particularly loves the recycled yarn component. The sweaters used to make these reclaimed and upcycled products come from a textile recycler in the United States, while the recycled wool yarn comes from a manufacturer in Europe. This manufacturer is unique, Josh says, since they have developed a “new patented process of recycling that is 98% more environmentally-friendly than making yarn from scratch.” Not only are the products artfully crafted and unique, but also eco-friendly!

After the fast pace of the holiday season, Josh and the Icebox Knitting team make “a concerted effort to stop the machines and turn off the lights for 10 days.” It’s a time for reflection and to recharge the system, before they are ready to hit the ground running for the trade shows in January. During that mini vacation and the rest of the holiday season, Josh looks forward to spending time with his family and enjoying the natural beauty of Colorado.

Over here in New York City, Jamie Cornett of Instrumental Lighting is getting ready in different ways. With an inventory of lamps made of reclaimed musical instruments and room for custom orders, Jamie has taken to craft shows, street fairs and flea markets to start getting his designs in the hands of thoughtful gift-givers in the five boroughs. We caught up with Jamie a couple weeks ago at a street fair in Chelsea to benefit a local elementary school. We didn’t stick around too long as his table was very popular among shoppers.

Although Instrumental Lighting is sold to customers across the US at UncommonGoods, a lot of our designers rely heavily on local trade shows and markets to sell their products. In fact, our buyers discovered Jamie and his original lamps last year at Brooklyn Flea, a local market that Jamie plans on attending this holiday season. While planning on setting up shop at markets in the city and being a stay at home dad, Jamie will also judge our Upcycling Design Challenge with Jim of Green3.

With the hustle-and-bustle of the holiday season, a season that started a couple months ago for the UncommonGoods team and our vendors, we are so glad to get to check in and celebrate our hard efforts. We can’t help but believe in Santa with all these hard-working elves!

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: DIY Lip Balm Kit

October 15, 2012

I am a total lip balm addict, as is our entire family. I have two on my desk at work, a few stashed in my bag, and always one in the car. The thing about my lip balm is, frankly, I do not like to share, and therefore I can never have enough of fresh sticks or tins of fresh balm on hand!

I am thinking that since I am a creature of habit and typically buy the same flavors, making my own lip balm with the DIY Lip Balm Kit will give me an opportunity to experiment with a different range of scents; and since everything is provided for us it should be fool proof!

I knew my 12-year-old daughter Tea was super excited to experiment with me and could not wait to open the box and check out the contents. We decided to make a variety of flavors instead of 6 tins of the same flavor, so we raided our cabinets for essential oils and found a few interesting base scents. The kit comes with peppermint, so we opted for the peppermint, our tangerine oil, and added a chocolate oil to the peppermint (for the “never yet seen on any store shelf”) chocolate-peppermint lip balm.

Everything is well labeled in the kit and very organized and the instructions were very easy to follow. Basically all that was needed was a scale, a few mixing cups, a spoon, and a double boiler. It was very nice to see the cards had details on all the ingredients – informative and educational.

We wanted a “plain” balm first, so we threw all the ingredients to melt together–basically beeswax, cocoa butter, and sunflower oil–let that melt and filled the first tin with the unscented mix. There are really clear instructions on how to get the balm to be smooth on the top, and what to do if it coagulates.

Since we were doing a variety of flavors, we had to plan out the best way to achieve our assortment, and it seemed like the best way was to just mix the plain base with the oil right in the little tins.

We discovered that if you add too much essential oil, it becomes too strong and can burn your lips, so in this case less is more, as the natural oils are very concentrated.

Next came the peppermint, and since this was our last base flavor, we added peppermint right to the boiler, and mixed it well. After we filled the tins with peppermint, we added some chocolate to the nearly empty boiler, making our last mixture of chocolate peppermint.

The instructions recommended a curing/hardening period of a few hours. In the meantime Tea labeled the tins so we could be ready for action when the balms were set.

This was a super fun, easy activity that was basically fool proof. We over-scented one tin but found you could dilute the mix by added more wax/base… so all in all it was very fun, we achieved great results and had a lot of fun doing this together! I was very happy to have all the instructions ingredients provided for us, and know that if we want to continue another time, we just need to seek the ingredients. We still have the tins and the recipe, and the know-how; I am sure we’ll give it another try and even experiment with some more flavors next time!

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