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Gift Lab: How to Make Music by Playing Wine Glasses

September 27, 2013
Major Scale Musical Wine Glasses | UncommonGoods

As a developer of the Major Scale Musical Wine Glasses™, my knowledge of the product is quite comprehensive, but this was my first chance to test a random unit straight off the production floor. In developing these musical glasses, we looked for a glass that would allow for a full A major scale, allowing for more versatile music-making. We used a high-quality lead-free crystal glass here to ensure the best resonance we could achieve.

I’m not a big wine drinker, but you’ll find me sneaking a swig of water every now and again – so I’m conducting this experiment with water as an alternative. I try to keep practice on my violin, but I’m much more likely to produce something resembling music with my finger on these glasses than with my bow on strings – so I’m looking forward to the chance to actually hit the right notes for a change.

Musical Wine Glass Packaging | Uncommon Goods

Due to variations in glass we knew absolute, orchestral perfection was a bit too aspirational, but we have been pleased to find that the fill lines correspond quite nicely to the note indicated. My hypothesis is that I’ll have a pretty happy match today.

Fill ‘er up! I poured to the first note – an ‘A,’ moistened my finger in another glass to allow for smooth movement around the rim, and round my finger went firmly in a circular motion. As I draw my finger around the rim, the alternating slipping and sticking creates a vibration pattern in the glass. The speed of vibration, meanwhile, is affected by the volume of liquid in the glass, and different vibrations will produce different notes. The results of my first attempt?

Playing Music on Wine Glasses

A lovely ‘A’ note resonates through the dining room, accompanied by a hypnotic ripple along the surface of the wine. As you can see…a successful ‘A’!

'A' Note

I toast to a successful first pour and continue on my journey through the A Major scale.

I poured a taller glass and around I went again.

Major Scale Musical Wine Glass | UncommonGoods

Crosschecking with another tuner – a direct hit! SuccEss with a capital ‘E’.

'E' Note


Though slight variations in glass will yield somewhat different performance, a random test proved more than satisfactory to my unprofessional, yet music-appreciating ears. Very content and ready to wet my whistle, I toast to beautiful music with my fiancée and Franklin Broccoli, our almost-real pet bulldog.

Musical Wine Glass Toast

To see and hear these uncommon instruments make music with your own eyes and ears, check out this video of me playing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: How to Get the Perfect Shave

August 27, 2013

Jeff | UncommonGoods Customer Service

I shave every other day, occasionally back to back days, and end up spending $40.00 to $50.00 using disposable blades such as Mach3 and Proglide. Usually after two shaves the blade does not give a close shave at all. I heard the Razor Pit Sharpener will solve this problem and save me lots of $$$$.
Razor Pit Razor Sharpener

I am curious to see if there truly is some way to extend the life of my disposables; everything I have heard and read about the Razor Pit Sharpener makes me hopeful this is the tool to use.
Sharpen your Razor


Pretty simple stuff here, you can use a squirt of shaving cream or soap to lather up the surface of the Pit. You then push your razor FORWARD–five or six times will do. I found that pushing it once, then rubbing the shaving cream around so it covers the entire surface again, then doing my second push and so on to the fifth or sixth push. Then I ran the blade under COLD water for a few seconds (cold contracts the metal, which is good. My own tip). Then you shave!!!
Jeff Shaving | UncommonGoods


No kidding, this is incredible! The four (very old, perhaps a few months) blades I tested on each gave me a shave that is just about the same as a brand new blade. I used it for two weeks, then shaved once more with a brand new blade. I found no difference between the Razor-Pitted blades and the brand new one. While I suppose that I will eventually have to buy new blades, I can certainly see my costs being at least half, so I will have paid for my pit within two months.

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Keep Your Baby’s Skin Oh-So-Smooth

July 31, 2013



Baby’s have sensitive skin. The first thing our doctor told us in the hospital after pointing out a reddish rash developing on our newborn’s leg is that we could expect her to have many and varied “disturbances in the force” (as I like to call them.) Fresh out of the safety and sterility of the womb, her baby skin, which should be the protection from the environment around her, reacts to everything from heat to laundry detergent. Our baby got the unfortunate genetic roll of the dice to have parents with skin issues that were passed along before she graced the world with her screams and poop. As a sufferer of eczema myself, I’ve learned that using products with no fragrance, coloring or any “extra” additives is the best way to keep your eczema happy and subdued.



Pure and gentle products are typically sold for baby skincare. Even no tears formulas are sometimes a little too dry for babies with sensitive skin. The Baby Gift Box formulated by Erbaviva uses organic essential lavender, chamomile oils, and natural ingredients so even the most sensitive of babies won’t suffer from the drying effects of soaps and fragrances.



After bringing La Bambina home from the hospital, we had to wait until the remainder of her umbilical cord dried up and fell off before she could have her first bath. A few short weeks of holding our noses as we passed her,La Bambina was finally ready for a bath. We had already used the Erbaviva baby oil to prevent diaper rash every time we changed her and were pleased with the absorption, light citrus scent and moisturizing abilities. Now it was time to use their shampoo and baby cream.



In the end, The Baby Gift Box provides products that make babies and new parents happy at bath time!

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: How to Stay Chill & Kick Back Cold Ones

June 11, 2013

I was already familiar with the Corkcicle, but was excited to hear of the introduction of the Chillsner— a stainless steel tool you freeze and then put in your beer, juice, or soda.

My hope is that my beverage remains cold, even if I get distracted playing video games.

I have to admit I was a little skeptical about using the Chillsner. Also I was a little nervous my lips would get stuck to it, due to the Chillsner’s time in the freezer. So on the first night, I put the product in the freezer for an hour. (The instructions call for 45 minutes.) I took it out and stuck it in the bottle, but not following the instructions, I spilled some of my beer because I didn’t take a sip first. Stupid physics.

The first attempt worked pretty well, even though I purposely put the Chillsner in a warm beer, and it cooled it pretty quickly. Yum.

The next night, the Chillsner had been in the freezer for 24 hours. My lips still didn’t get stuck. Also I made sure not to spill my beer. It kept my chilled beer chilled as I nursed it for an hour and a half. Normally I don’t take this long to drink a beer, but sacrifices must be made in the name of science.

Overall, I was pleased. My beer stayed cold for much longer than I was used to. I look forward to using the Chillsner this summer.

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: From Wine Bottle to Watering Globe

May 28, 2013

Ok, so I don’t have the greenest green thumb, but I love having fresh herbs and veggies on hand. When I’ve planted in the past my poor plants’ main downfall has been lack of water. If my sprouts are not directly in sight every day I tend to forget them. The backyard for my apartment building is accessible, but it isn’t exactly easy to get to each day, so I need a watering system that will babysit my sprouts a few days a week. I’m hoping the Plant Nanny is up for the job!

The Plant Nanny will keep my herbs and tomato plants well-hydrated without daily watering sessions on my part.

I got my seedlings home and potted in a sunny spot. I also brought home the Plant Nanny wine bottle set. Because my herbs went into pots on the small side I decided to try empty beer bottles for their Nannies. The tomato plants went into a larger pot, so they got a wine bottle. The necks of the beer bottles fit just about perfectly into the wine bottle Plant Nannies. But I wasn’t certain that the water would hold out in them over the next few days.

The directions recommended that the end of the Plant Nanny should be pushed down by the roots. This was easily accomplished without over-packing the soil too tight or crowding out my seedlings.

It was also really simple to get the full bottle into the Plant Nanny. The directions noted to put a finger or two over the top of the bottle before tipping it into the Plant Nanny. The water filled the base of the nanny and balanced out without losing hardly a drop.

Ok, so I have to admit I thought the upside-down bottles might not be that great looking. (Course, neither do the re-used pots I got from a neighbor that was going to chuck them.) It turns out that they look pretty cool, and I can already tell that they’ll blend in a bit better once my plants start to fill out.

So, I did my planting on a Sunday afternoon. By Wednesday morning there was only a bit of water left in the both the beer bottles and the wine bottle Nannies. The small-bottle-to-small-pot and large-bottle-to-large-pot idea worked out well with the wine bottle Plant Nannies! The soil in all three pots was moist without being overly flooded.

Looks like I’ll be able to let the Plant Nannies “babysit” for about 2-3 days at a time. If we hit a dry spell I plan on checking my plants every 1-2 days to be on the safe side.

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: How To Be a Real Smooth Guy

April 29, 2013

Hard work comes at a price; rough hands! I chose the 7 Day Hand Repair Kit for Men for my experiment because it seemed like the perfect product to give my hands an overhaul. The designer of this kit was a mechanic for 20 years, and his damaged hands pushed him to make this product. Coupled with the fact that I have never tried anything like a hand repair kit before (although my neighbor wore gloves everywhere because she was a hand model), I figured that this might have interesting results.

I was very active as a teenager, and I work in a warehouse now, so this seemed ideal given that my hands have lost many battles in the hand-aesthetics department. I predict that I will have softer, more moisturized hands by the end of the seventh day of me using this repair kit.

I figured that Monday morning would be a good day to start this experiment. I opened the kit, which includes soap, hand repair lotion, knuckle wax, night salve, cotton gloves and butter nub along with instructions.

The instructions on the kit state that there is a morning and evening routine. The first step in the morning routine was to thoroughly wash your hands with the hand scrub soap. The soap actually made my hands feel smooth and soft after using it.

Next, the instructions state that after the soap, I should use the hand repair lotion followed by the knuckle wax. After the first couple of days I did not really notice much of a difference. However, at around the fourth day, my hands did in fact feel somewhat softer.

The evening routine varied slightly. After using the soap and hand repair lotion, the instructions stated that I must coat my hands with the night intense salve instead of knuckle wax and then cover them with the cotton gloves. The main ingredients in the salve were cocoa butter and shea butter, which left my hands shiny and slippery (even after rubbing the moisturizer in for a couple minutes). I left the gloves on overnight and took them off when I woke up the next morning.

The butter nub, which has skin healing oils and is meant for on-the-go moisturizer, took a bit of extra effort to get out of the container as it was of a more solid consistency. My wife described the smell of it as similar to shea butter, although it definitely seemed harder than the night salve. Throughout the seven days of hand repair, I used the butter nub in an attempt to moisturize my hands while at work and home.

My hypothesis was correct. My hands actually felt softer after using the 7 Day Hand Repair Kit for Men. This was a cool experiment that allowed me to improve my hand texture and keep them moisturized. If I did this again, I would probably use less of the butter nub as that seemed to have the least effect on my hands. Overall, though, the morning and night time routine seemed to work after a few days, and now I have great hands! Well, maybe not great, but definitely smoother than before I started using this kit.

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: How to Make Fruit-flavored H2O

April 18, 2013

A glass water bottle with a built in fruit infuser. What a brilliant idea! is the first thought that came across my mind. I’ve never heard about this product and finding out about it would make a change in my lifestyle. All of my life I’ve grown accustomed to drinking soda and juice, neglecting water which is necessary to keep our bodies properly hydrated. Breaking this bad habit by using the Flavor Infuser Water Bottle would help me transition from my lack of water intake.

Infusing fruits into water on a daily basis will lead to a healthier lifestyle and water being an essential part of my life.

With a variety of fruits I will mix and match them and properly infuse them into water creating a couple of different types of fruitful H2O. Below was my favorite concoction.

Watermelon Lemon Basil Water
Step 1: Finely slice lemons into 6-8 pieces
Step 2: Cut watermelons into small cubes (10-12 cubes)
Step 3: Chop 8 basil leaves in half
Step 4: Take the center piece of the infuser and add lemons, watermelons, and basil leaves together.
Step 5: Place the top onto the center piece.
Step 6: Fill the glass water bottle with water.
Step 7: Place the center piece inside of the glass bottle and place the main top on to seal the bottle.
Step 8: Let the infusion begin! Wait 30 minutes until you drink the water. Enjoy!

This infuser is definitely a hit. After experimenting with different fruits my outlook on drinking water has changed. Using this product created a fun experience. Researching the different fundamentals of fruits and water helped me in having a want to drink water. It’s simple, it’s easy and I am becoming a water-loving person.

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Gift Lab: The Levitron Lamp’s Floating Fluorescence

March 20, 2013

Rocky tests the Levitron Lamp | Uncommongoods

The Levitron Lamp in action. Read on for Rocky’s Step-By-Step floating lamp tutorial.

I remember it like yesterday..

About 6-7 weeks ago I’m sitting at my desk, headphones on, Spotify playlist blasting, putting in work on the current task at hand. I get to a point where I feel like a mini break is warranted and decide to relax a bit, sinking into my chair and mentally preparing myself to go full on into daydream mode. However, right before I get the chance to picture myself on a foreign beach, drinking margaritas out of umbrella decorated coconuts, something catches my eye…

Sitting on a shelf behind the neighboring desk to mine, there is a fairly large box with “Levitron Lamp” in bold print, accompanied by a photograph of a lamp underneath … I think. Why the uncertainty? Because according to the picture I’m now staring at, the lamp’s shade that sits on top, actually doesn’t “sit” at all, but FLOATS. Yes.. I’m sure now. There is definitely a minimum of 1-1.5 inch of space between the lamp’s shade and its base, with nothing connecting the two..

W. T. F. ?

See, working at UG for about a year and a half now, I’ve grown accustomed to expecting the unexpected when it comes to the products we carry. Time and time again, I find myself floored by the level of creativity and innovation applied. So much so, that I’ve made myself a permanent resident in the Merchants’ area of our office so I can scope out the samples of potential new products as they come in. (Marketing team, I promise I love you guys.. but yes, I have something on the side with the merchants.) Needless to say, this just became another time to add to that list of ‘time and time again’ I mentioned earlier.

*Pauses music. Snatches off headphones. “KATIE.. What.. is… that?!”. *

Katie (UncommonGoods Associate Buyer and my desk neighbor) informs me more about the newly received lamp and confirms that it purportedly does have floating pieces incorporated, although no one has yet to see it with their own eyes. Then after a brief pause, she adds…

I have to assume that because someone out there took the time to mass manufacture, officially name, professionally package, and ship this product to our office, there is some truth about what it claims to do. However, I’m suspicious about how well it will work and for how long. My past experiences from life teach that often, things like these don’t stick around for very long, once out of the box and put to continuous use (and of course, that doesn’t fly at UG). That said, I’m predicting ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’ for a short-lived amount of time before it becomes a has been.

Setting up the lamp is fairly simple, just pay close attention to the directions, because between the different parts to the lamp and the various laws of science at play, there’s a chance of some confusion if you do not. Take it from me–I admit, at first I quickly threw the directions right to the side and had at it.

It took 1 minute and 20 seconds for me to pick them right back up again… which brings me to

STEP ONE Use the directions to identify all the pieces.

You see that first picture on the left up there? Take a real good look at it. It identifies all the pieces you will need to put the floating lamp into play and gives you the ABCs of what goes where, when, and why. You will see later that this is very key to this whole operation.

STEP TWO Read the directions thoroughly.

By now you get the point. Directions = good.

STEP THREE Find desired location for lamp and plug it in.
You will want to do this. Trust me. You will see why.. eh, I’ll just tell you now. Once setup is complete, you will not want to A. Unplug it (unless you want to practice setting it up all over again), because the way it floats is due to electromagnetism. That’s short for ‘no electricity, no magnetism.’ B. Even if you do not need to unplug your lamp, sliding or carrying it will require very slow movement. The lamp’s magnetic field is easily thrown off balance (causing the shade to fall off) when knocked too hard.

STEP FOUR This is where you get your David Blaine on and make some magic happen.

Grab the clear plastic disc and find the side that has a tiny peg poking out from the center of it. Then look at the top of the lamp’s base and find the little hole at the center of that. Once found, place the clear plastic disc, peg side facing down, on top of base’s center and slide it around until the peg falls into the little hole, securing the disc in place.

Now grab your black cylinder/tube/thingamajig. Notice one end will have a thick border and the other end will not. Place the end that doesn’t have the thick border into your clear plastic disc. (You will know you’ve done it correctly because it also will slide securely into place.) At this point, find your little hockey-puck-looking magnet, hold it over the top of the cylinder as if you’re going to drop it in and take a trip down memory lane to junior high science class. If you feel that the magnet is trying to run away from the cylinder’s opening, that means it is repelling and you need to flip the magnet over for the side we need to work with. If there is no repelling, then we’re good to continue.

Next, drop the magnet into the center of the cylinder. The directions say to start much higher for this to work, but I found that starting right over the cylinder is fine. When dropped into the cylinder correctly, it will float on its own directly in the center. If done incorrectly, it will still float, but also rest on the walls of the cylinder. That’s a no-no. You will have to redo it.

Once you have the magnet floating in the center, you can now take the cylinder off by pulling it straight up. After that, push the plastic disc off the side. Neither of these are needed anymore.

STEP FIVE Place your lamp shade on the magnet.

So after spending some time looking at how cool the magnet looks floating there (because you’re definitely going to), you’re now ready to place your lamp shade. There is a groove in the bottom of the shade that allows it to sit perfectly on top of the magnet. Using some finesse (so to not knock the magnet out of ‘orbit’), place the shade on top.

WALLAH! Floating Lamp Goodness complete.

I also want to highlight that besides the floating feature, the lamp itself is pretty nice. As you can see from the pictures, it has a modern, sleek/Jetsons futuristic hybrid look to it. The light comes from the top of the base and the bottom of the base, with two separate touchpad light switches controlling the different sides.

Wherever you find yourself setting up this lamp, it will be a conversation starter for sure. My desk has easily become the coolest desk at UG (I’m accepting any challengers, what up?!) and anyone who notices it while walking by stops to take a closer look.

WARNING: With great power comes great responsibility. Like I said, this lamp will draw people in to take a closer look. They also WILL play with it, and they will knock the shade off over.. and over.. and over again. So get use to setting it up. But after the first couple of times, it’s easy as pie–Scratch that. I don’t know how to make pie, bad example. It’s easy as buying pie–and you’ll come to enjoy watching people’s expressions when they do knock it off. (Everybody’s face always look like they just broke an irreplaceable ancient artifact and are about to get hauled off to serve hard time for it.. or at least have to buy me a new one.)

At the end of the day, simply said, this is one cool lamp. And today it’s still on my desk, working as great as the day it came out of the box.

Also, that ‘lil guy basking in the lamp’s light in the picture? That’s Blocky. He makes sure my pens don’t go missing while I’m away from my desk.

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