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Gift Guides

It’s Coffee Time: 8 Uncommon Facts About the World’s Favorite Bean

June 23, 2015

Summer is a telling time for coffee drinkers; the heat naturally flushes out the untrustworthy fair-weather “It’s too hot for coffee” types from their ruse and lets us know who we can really trust. I started drinking coffee as a kid – funny given a popular myth regarding the discovery of the bean’s stimulating properties. Coffee originates from Ethiopia, allegedly first noticed by a goat herder named Kaldi whose goats began acting jumpy after eating several wild coffee cherries. The bean has since grown to become an essential part of global food culture – the second most widely traded commodity after crude oil – and the basis of millions of people’s livelihoods (and others’ mornings).

In honor of one of the world’s favorite beverages, we’ve compiled 8 coffee facts about our favorite gifts that will have coffee lovers buzzing no matter how they take it.

Coffee Cold Brew Gift Set

1.) Cooler than you think: It’s never too hot for coffee, but for those who are after a refreshing and revitalizing afternoon drink, cold brew is for you! Plus, cold brew coffee may actually be more flavorful! When coffee grounds are exposed to hot water, acidic oils are extruded that don’t dissolve at lower temperatures. This gives coffee its bitter kick, but masks some of the fruity, aromatic flavor retained by cold brew. Check out our gift lab to see the Cold Brew Set in action!

 

 

The Coffee Towel

2.) Mornings on tap: Here in North America, one third of tap water used for drinking is used to brew coffee! Soak up a little extra with this towel – perfect to hang nearby your coffee station to dry mugs between mornings.

 

 

 

Coffee Explorer Set

3.) Sadly, you can’t wear the Coffee Belt: Though the most coffee is consumed by the global north, coffee can only be grown in a region straddling the equator known as the ‘Coffee Belt’ (or Bean Belt). The Coffee Explorer Set takes you on a tour of the belt with four varieties from Ethiopia, Brazil, Colombia, and Honduras without having to board an airplane. That could get expensive quickly; the only U.S. state in which coffee can be successfully grown for commercial purposes is Hawaii, which explains why backyard bean growing hasn’t quite taken off.

 

  

 

Coffee Liqueur Making Kit

4.) Before on-plane temperature control: This DIY take on coffee liqueur promises a different kind of buzz than your morning cup of Joe. Coffee Liqueur’s distant, freckle-faced cousin, Irish coffee, was conceived in the 1940s by the head chef at now-Shannon International Airport to warm American passengers on cold winter flights. When asked if they were being served Brazilian coffee, the chef labeled it ‘Irish Coffee.’

 

 

Le Café Personalized Art

5.) Stimulating more than your mornings: Turn your kitchen or dining room into your own café – maybe you’ll spark an important intellectual movement! European coffee houses, precursor to modern cafés, are often credited with helping to spark the Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries for their role as public places for discussion. Plus, coffee benefits short term memory recall!

 

 

Ceramic Greek Coffee Cup

6.) Classic CoffΣΣ: Immortalized in ceramic, the classic Greek motif coffee cup is an iconic symbol of the New York City morning rush. Makes a perfect gift for a coffee loving New Yorker, who drinks (on average) close to a whopping seven times more coffee than inhabitants of other major cities!

 

 

Café Collection Soaps Set

7.) Caffeine Vaccine: With these soaps active in the shower and caffeine active in the bloodstream, you’ll be extra safe from unwanted microbes! Long credited speculatively with antiseptic properties, a 2011 study indicated that caffeine may be more effective than ampicillin at inhibiting bacteria like staphylococcus, salmonella and E. coli.

 

 

Espresso Pop Chart

8.) Who needs unions when the boss has a bean machine?: Depicting 23 different kinds of espresso, the Pop Chart serves as an aesthetic reference for any espresso lover! Just don’t spend too much time staring at it with mouth-watering daydreams of bold, Italian goodness – espresso was first invented in the early 1900s as a means to decrease the time laborers took on their coffee breaks. Get back to work!

 

 

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

Baby Week 2013

July 29, 2013

This week we’re talking about babies with the help of some of our favorite bloggers and team members. Check out what we have going on across the site.

Lynzy of Sparkling Footsteps' hand-picked baby gifts | UncommonGoodsLynzy of Sparkling Footsteps created a collection of stylish baby gifts as she waits for her little one to arrive.

Rebecca Gallop's baby gift picks | UncommonGoodsNew mom, Rebecca Gallop of A Daily Something shares her favorite quirky baby products to build a nursery.

Art as a baby shower gift! | UncommonGoodsWhether it’s a baby shower or a birthday, Erin of ArtSocial has some great ideas of how to give art as a gift.

Top baby names of 2013 | UncommonGoodsTiffany from our Product Development team illustrated the top baby names of 2013 with Patricia Carlin’s Coat of Arms artwork.

Naomi and baby test out the Baby Gift Box | UncommonGoodsCustomer Service Specialist Naomi and her bambina test out the Baby Gift Set to help keep baby’s skin soft and sweet.

Julian and his wife test out the Belly Art kit | UncommonGoodsCustom Orders Specialist Julian gave our Belly Art kit a test with his wife and toddler.

How to throw a geek baby shower | UncommonGoodsWe share our tips for throwing a geeky baby shower.

Babies with 'staches | UncommonGoodsVisit our Oh, Baby! Pinterest board for some of our favorite baby products and tips.

Design

How to throw a Geek Baby Shower

July 29, 2013

How to throw a geek baby shower | UncommonGoodsA couple months ago, our staff threw a baby shower for Naomi. Hopeful for her little girl to be a tiny scientist, Naomi asked for a series of baby items with a geek theme from our assortment. We were so impressed and excited for her that we put together some crafts to throw a geeky baby shower.

Beeker plastic cups | UncommonGoodsClear plastic cups are easily transformed into beakers with the help of a marker.

Test tubes for punch! | UncommonGoodsFor those interested in taking smaller sips, test tubes are another beverage vessel choice. Plus they make the table look like a lab.

Apple Pi Cupcakes | UncommonGoodsApple Pi Cupcakes!

Geek themed cupcake toppers | UncommonGoodsWe made cupcake toppers from images we found on the web. Print out two identical images and glue with a toothpick or skewer in the middle.

Solar mobile | UncommonGoodsJust like in elementary school, a mobile of the solar system was a fun and easy project. With some paper, tempera paint, string, and cotton balls you can recreate the plants in our solar system for a colorful decoration.

Decorate with gifts | UncommonGoodsOn the tables, we used the Nerd Flashcards that Naomi requested as a gift to keep the theme going.

Naomi's Geek Baby Shower | UncommonGoodsJudging by the smile on Naomi’s face, our crafts were worth the time and papercuts!

Gift Guides

12 Pieces of Art for Special Ocassions

July 29, 2013

This summer has been FULL of joyous occasions. Weddings, baby showers, birthdays! So much fun and happiness. But the hard part about all these celebrations? The gifts! Finding the right present can be so stressful.

Over the years, I’ve found one foolproof gift: artwork. Artwork is always unique, thoughtful, and memorable no matter what the occasion. I mean, who wouldn’t want an awesome new print for their wall? Plus giving artwork will earn you some major cool points. Promise.

Not sure where to start? Here are some of my favorite works from the Uncommon Artist Gallery organized by occasion…

Art for a baby shower | UncommonGoods01. Storks by Denise Fiedler

02. Building Blocks Personalized Art by Alexander Doll

03. Bubbles by Andrea Doss

Art for wedding gifts | UncommonGoods01. Love Carries All by Zlatka Paneva

02. Custom Cross Stitch Portrait by Elizabeth Dabczynski

03. Personalized Couple Tandem Bike by Patrica Carlin

Birthday art for her | UncommonGoods01. Beach by Yao Cheng

02. Going to See My Baby Blue by Allison Glancey and Craig Seder

03. Do What You Want by Jessica Swift

Art gift ideas for him | UncommonGoods01. All the Mountains in Colorado by James Gulliver Hancock

02. AIGA/NY 30th Anniversary Poster by Maira Kalman

03. Rocky Mountain Daybreak Bison by Dolan Geiman

Check out more gift-worthy artwork in the Uncommon Artist Gallery!

Maker Stories

Donna Rollins’ Handmade Mugs with a Healing Touch

March 15, 2013

“I’ve had an attraction to collecting stones for what seems like eternity,” says Donna Rollins, the artist behind Healing Stone Mugs and Birth Stone Mugs. Her creative cups incorporate layers of minerals, non-toxic glazes, and, of course, the signature stones that make them truly uncommon.

Healing Touch Pottery, Photo by Stephanie Minion Photography

Donna started creating pottery about 5 years ago, but says that she’s always been attracted to the medium. The self-taught potter credits her youngest daughter with inspiring her to give clay a try. She purchased her first wheel and kiln so they could create pottery together. Now all three of her daughters work for the company she and her husband, Randall, run in New Hampshire–Healing Touch Pottery.

When she got the notion of marrying natural stones with handmade ceramics Donna knew she was ready to start her business. “The idea of placing the stone on the thumb rest of a mug came to me in a dear friend’s home. I was admiring her stone collection and thought, How can I incorporate the healing benefits of crystals and minerals with my love for pottery?

Donna and Randall Rollins, photo by Stephanie Minion Photography

Today Healing Touch Pottery has 9 staff members who create 700 to 1000 mugs each week. “Each artist has their own style and that style comes through in the creation, but collectively we create what becomes an individual’s new favorite mug,” says Donna.

Healing Touch Potter Liz Johnson

Healing Touch Staff: Mandi Ouellette, Samantha Mistich, and Liz Johnson

“Each of our signature mugs begin with a pound of clay in our hands,” Donna explains. “We shape the square clay into a ball, we then throw it into the center of a potter’s wheel, hence the term throwing pottery. From there, we pull, push and gently caress the clay forming the various shapes of the cylinder of a mug.”

But the potter’s wheel is just the beginning. “The potter’s assistant takes the cylinder off the potter’s wheel and places it on a board. Depending on the day of the week, there could be anywhere from 120 to 220 cylinders thrown that day,” says Donna.”After a day of sitting and drying to leather-hard, the cylinders are handled by our other talented artists. Once the mugs have dried enough to be wiped and signed, they are then placed in the kilns for their first firing to bisque. After the bisque firing, the mugs are transported to the glazing room where another group of artists dip each mug in our handcrafted glazes. From this point, the mugs are loaded into the glazing kilns for their final firing at 2200 degrees. Once the mugs are cool enough to unload they are transported to another room where the stones are attached and Reiki-charged.”

Reviewer submitted image by By SouthernMama from Sweet Home Alabama

While a great deal of time and work go into each mug, Donna and her team don’t mind putting in the hours, care, and attention to detail it takes to create each piece. “There is a common thought and goal for each of us who work here at Healing Touch Pottery and we believe that is why our pottery is enjoyed by so many,” she tells us. “Quartz is a conductor of energy and it is in our clay and glazes and most of the stones we use are quartz-based. We believe our energy permeates our products, so it’s crucial we be in positive space and thoughts so our wares are enjoyed not just for their beauty, but also for their energy.”

The alluring stones also provide comfort, giving the person who holds the mug a gently-raised place to rest their thumb, and since skin slides easily against the smooth surface of the rocks, these creations are the perfect “worry stones” to help your troubles melt away as you enjoy a calming cup of tea or morning coffee as you start a new day.

Gift Guides

A Guide to our Holiday Gift Guides

December 12, 2012


Every year UncommonGoods celebrates those who dance to the beat of their own drum by offering gifts for every kind of personality and hobbyist. This December, Cassie and I wanted to sing our praise to some of the great people on your list with some gift guides with personality if their own. Whether your list contains a toddling physicist, a Pinaholic, or a set of saccharine smoochers, you’re bound to find something for someone in our guides.

The Urban Lumberjack may reside in the city–a forest of concrete and steel–but that doesn’t stop him from embracing his manliness. He’s ruggedly handsome; sophisticated, yet street smart; and stylish in a down-to-earth fashion… see more.

Born with fervent curiosity, the Tiny Scientist is determined to figure out the workings of the world. Always asking how and why, their research never ceases… see more.

Even the most persistent pinner needs a break from taste-making during the holiday season. Help her take a load off by presenting her with one of these pinworthy products perfect for the Pinterest Addictsee more.

There’s no cure for The Runaway’s serious case of wanderlust. No matter how many roads they trek, sights they see, and adventures they embark upon, their craving to see lands unknown cannot be sated… see more.

The Earth Mama is a special lady. She’s in touch with her surroundings. She’s down with nature–whether it’s the wind, grass, and trees encapsulating her country hideaway, or the energy of the bustling city streets and other people, all sharing the planet and working with one another… see more.

When they look at each other, they still get butterflies. Here are a few gifts that the Smitten Couple is sure to love… see more.

Even the most complex cocktail is no match for The Mixologist. Armed with a bottle of booze, ice, and a splash of soda, this brave bartender helps you battle thirst, then celebrates your victory with a toast… see more.

To Gadgeteers, lovers of techie toys, the latest gizmo is one part puzzle and one part solution.Unfortunately for eager gifters, the die-hard tech-thusiast often already owns the latest and greatest big-ticket electronic item before the holiday season even starts downloading… see more.

Some call them the literati, bibliophiles, or even book worms. But, they’re not so concerned about those titles, because they’d rather be browsing the shelves for titles from their favorite authors. They are the Book Lovers, and here are some gifts that are sure to read well with them this holiday season… see more.

There hasn’t been a holiday for which she couldn’t plan the perfect party. And, showers–bridal or baby–she’s ready with cute games and an even cuter cake. She is the Eternal Hostesssee more.

Some cyclists consider themselves two-wheel commuters. They’d rather hop on a bike to get to work than worry about getting stuck in traffic or dealing with packed public transportation… see more.

There’s a certain breed of music lover who, when given the choice, always takes the slightly gritty sound of vinyl on a turntable over a digitally remastered CD or a quick-and-clean download. For the record, one of these gifts for Vinylphiles might just be the chart-topper they’re looking for… see more.

It’s more than an oversized sock tacked to the mantle. It’s a welcome sign for Santa, a reminder to be nice (it’s very hard to get coal stains out of those toes, you know), and a boot-shaped goody bag on Christmas morning. Stocking Stuffers are special, too… see more.

Gift Guides

Uncommon Gifts for The Mixologist

December 3, 2012

Even the most complex cocktail is no match for The Mixologist. Armed with a bottle of booze, ice, and a splash of soda, this brave bartender helps you battle thirst, then celebrate your victory with a toast. With a penchant for the perfect pour and a reputation for really shaking things up, a true mix master may have enough swizzle sticks and tiny umbrellas to get through last call, but they’re always in the mood for new drink-worthy designs. These giftable goods are perfect companions to their well-crafted concoctions, so why not give one a shot?


The 7 Deadly Sins Glasses / Bar10der / Wood Bow Tie / Lemon Press Squeezer / Splash Martini Glasses / Himalayan Salt Tequila Glasses / Molecular Mixology Kit–Mojito / Cocktail Dice with Shaker

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