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The Uncommon Life

DIY Project to Welcome Baby by Rubyellen of My Cakies

July 30, 2012
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Collaborative family projects are the best. We first did a family art piece (see here) before Soul was born and now we finally got around to creating one for Glow. I asked the girls what colors come to mind when they think of their baby sister and those are the colors we used. All of us took turns painting on it and we went back a few times to let layers dry before adding more. It’s a sweet pop of color perfect for a baby room! 

We loved Rubyellen’s idea of coming together before a new baby is born and creating a piece that is unique and memorable from the entire family. It not only can serve as a personalized piece of art but a special keepsake for the rest of their life! Visit Rubyellen’s blog, My Cakies, to learn more about her incredible family and check out her hand-picked collection of UncommonGoods baby gifts.

The Uncommon Life

Raising Your Children Green by Oh Dear Drea

July 30, 2012

Hello! I’m Drea!

I’m a single mama to one beautiful daughter, Miss Marlowe Paloma. The two of us share a tiny home in sunny South Florida, just two miles from the ocean. I’m always striving to keep my home for the two of us as natural, organic, and earth-friendly as possible… vegan too! The choices we make in our lives and in our home will forever affect our children and all following generations. I like to know I’m doing what I can to help make this Earth and life a little more healthy, simple, and naturally beautiful for my little one. I’ve put together a short list of simple changes we can all make (or partially make) to live a more eco-friendly, natural life. I hope you enjoy!

Pesticide-free gardening (Weather permitting, not so much in the Florida summer.)
Herb and vegetable gardens are great. You know exactly what products/chemicals/pesticides are going on the herbs and vegetables you will be putting in your body. There are millions of natural and organic gardening tips out there to use in your home. Here is a list of some of the tried and true natural gardening techniques we’ve used.

Natural and homemade products
Toxins, parabens, and chemicals are a no-no in this household, as these are all bad for the body and many cause or increase your chances of developing cancer. Only natural soaps are going on our skin and on our countertops. You can find a list of my favorite beauty products (for mama and baby), here and even a natural deodorant recipe, here. The deodorant works, trust me… I work on a small, hot food truck, in the middle of summer, in Florida.

Organic, Unprocessed, Vegan Food
We try to buy organic food as much as possible. We keep processed foods to the very minimum. There are no chemicals and preservatives going into your meals (and your body) when you cook organic food from scratch. And of course, you get to share the joy of cooking with little ones. We’re proof that it most certainly can be done on a budget… take a peek at our pantry. Skipping out on processed, “convenience” foods sufficiently reduces your budget by taking out processing, shipping, chemical, and packaging costs. And it makes sense that being vegan would be a lot more inexpensive too, since you’re re placing animal proteins with legumes. Beans are cheap cheap cheap… and extra delicious. Being vegan is also 100% more sustainable for our earth, but of course, not everyone has to be vegan to be beneficial. Just being aware of where your food is coming from, and making a few conscious choices from there (such as one meat free meal a day), can make a big, big difference.

Cloth napkins
I try to eliminate paper products as much as I can in our home. It seems like a huge waste to buy something, just to throw it away. There is a drawer for dining napkins, hand rags, and counter rags. By using cloth, not only are we saving tress, but we are also eliminating any of the chemicals used in processing paper (such as chlorine). So it’s nice to be able to choose what soaps we want to use on our linens, we only use free-and-clear soap here. You can buy cloth rags just about anywhere. I’ve found some really adorable ones on Etsy. As an extra bonus, you can even find cloth napkins made from vintage and up-cycled materials, such as the ones from dot and army.

Cloth diapers
Cloth diapering is the best way to keep chlorine and other chemicals off tender baby butts. There are a ton of places selling them now, and there are so many different options and styles to choose from. As a bonus, outgrown diaper inserts make the BEST clean-up rags, as they are so incredibly absorbent. I’m still using Marlowe’s newborn diaper inserts in my kitchen, and she’s almost two now! And of course, it keeps our landfills free of hundreds and thousands of diapers. Even using one cloth diaper a day, keeps 365 diapers out of a landfill for the year! Amazing!

Drea picked out her favorite organic, eco-friendly baby gifts from UncommonGoods. Check out her collection here!

The Uncommon Life

10 Tips for a Sustainable Summer Party with Bekuh of Secondhand Sundays

July 23, 2012

Hello there friends! My name is Bekuh and I’m the creative type behind the blog Secondhand Sundays; my personal blog filled with pretty vintage wares, delicious home cooked meals, crafty handmade goods, and life as a newlywed in Virginia. Most days you’ll find me playing in my studio or outside on the porch with my husband, and our pup Nellie. There is nothing we love to do more than be outside together.

I also love to use seemingly random holidays as an excuse to invite friends onto our porch to dine alfresco for an evening. On Bastille Day this year we threw a grandiose country garden party full of locally sourced food and drink for our friends.

During this first year of marriage Ryan, and I have had many conversations about budgets, and spending money, and to say we are on a tight budget would be an understatement. BUT we are also huge supporters of organic, fair-trade, and locally sourced produce. So, we made a commitment to continue buying our groceries in what we feel is an ethical way, while sticking to a pretty tight grocery budget. What does that have to do with this party you might ask?

Well, Ryan and I decided to buy as much as we could locally with a budget of $70 to feed 20 people, including wine (our guests brought the beer). And yes we succeeded, spending less than our targeted budget for the whole shebang. Here are my secrets to sustainable party success:

Reduce Waste with Cloth Napkins
Instead of using disposable napkins we buy linen dish rags to use in our personal life, so we just set out a giant stack of these beauties for our guests, saving us a lot of paper waste.

Cut the Garbage, Use Your Own Silverware
In the same vein instead of using plastic silverware I find that using our everyday silverware is easy to clean-up, and helps elevate the party into something more intimate, and nice.

Use What You’ve Already Got
When thinking about decor I definitely take the stance that the food comes first, atmosphere second. Because we don’t have enough porch chairs that match for big groups I decided to embrace the mix-matched atmosphere and incorporated lots of color through vintage linens, wild flowers, and brightly colored accents, like the Solar Tealight. It magically all came together in the end and I think embracing the resources you do have is the best way to go.

Homemade Tastes Better Anyway
Another great savings for us was Ryan’s contribution of the homemade bread, bbq sauce, and hummus. Homemade bread costs pennies to make and it’s always a crowd pleaser. The hardest part is waiting for the dough to rise.

Locally Source Your Produce in Bulk
We joined a CSA back in February and with our allotted $10 share that week we were able to pick-up all of the produce we needed for the party, with the exception of a couple of cherry tomatoes, the watermelon, and the peaches. The additional produce we needed to complete the meal came from our local farmer’s market.

Serve Foods that Grow with Your Guests
Foods that seem to grow as the number of people do, like couscous salad, is another great way to feed a lot of people with little monetary waste. Outside of the couscous I only used a small cucumber, about six cherry tomatoes, half a medium sized onion, one red pepper, and a handful of mint and pine nuts for 20 people. Since this is a versatile dish, you can keep adding more ingredients to account for unexpected (or extra hungry) guests. Now that’s economical.

Local Wine Fits the Bill
Local wine can also be surprisingly affordable, and with a lot of great options too. We bought two bottles of Virginia wine for $25. The Rocking Carafe was a great way to show off the wine and encourage people to try some.

Ask for a Contribution
Guests always want to contribute to the get together in one way or another and asking them to bring their favorite summer beverage can save you a lot of pain in trying to pick out something that will please everyone. We are really lucky to have a good friend who home brews some pretty amazing beers. Martin brought two six packs of home brew to share and they were definitely a highlight; all of the guys tried their hand at opening one with the One-Handed Bottle Opener.

Think Outside the Box for Fun
For entertainment we played Pictionary against one of our porch walls, using an old high school projector to draw on. It made it a lot easier for a lot of people to play and see no matter where they were standing. We will definitely be doing this again.

Buy in stages for a Better Deal
My last money saving tip, spread out your grocery shopping over a couple of weeks, buying things in stages. I bought the peaches for our dessert a couple of weeks before when a local farmer had a great deal on them, and froze the sliced peaches until I was ready to bake. You have to seek out the deals.

I truly believe you can feed, and entertain people in an affordable, and sustainable way using fresh local ingredients. It’s easy to do, but takes a commitment on your part to seek out the local markets and farms, make things homemade, and out of simple ingredients. Also, remember to sit back and enjoy your company, they’re only there for a little while. I hope the next time you’re planning a party you’ll look around your neighborhood for inspiration first.

big kiss, bekuh
Gift Guides

Wedding Decor Picks from Maggie of Rustic Wedding Chic

June 8, 2012

As the founder and editor of Rustic Wedding Chic I constantly hear from brides who are looking for fun, upbeat and unique items to add into their wedding decor. Trying to find the best wedding decor items is no easy task which is why I took the time to collect a few of my favorite uncommon wedding goods.

Squirelly Love
Perfect for a cake topper for a rustic wedding or I think this cute little item would look great on the head table or your sweetheart table right in front of you and your new spouse.

Ceramic Love Vase
A perfect vase to have on your special tables such as your cake table, guestbook table or line a few up along the place card display.

Bucket of Joy & Love
The name says it all. On your wedding day you should be filled with joy and love so why not showcase how you feel with these cute vases which would be really cute carried by your flower girls.

Family Tree Picture Frame
A wedding is all about merging two families together so why not showoff your new family tree. This would be really cute displayed for your guest to see as they eneter your wedding reception.

USA Scratch Map
How great would it be to have this fun map up next to your guestbook with a little sign that ask your guest to scratch off the state where they are from. This would be a fun way to see where all of your guest have travel from.

Lovebirds
Another great looking wood sculpture that could easily be used as a cake topper or just fun to have around on your wedding tables. This item would be super cute located close to welcome signs.

Mango Wood Bowl with Bark
The wood bowl makes for the perfect place to display items at your wedding. I used a similar style bowl to hold personalized napkins at my wedding or this would be a great ring bearer bowl.

State Pillows
Showcase the state where you and your spouse come from by displaying these state pillows at your wedding. At my own wedding I had a CT pillow placed on my chair and a NH pillow placed on my husband chair at our wedding reception.

Sustainable Picnic Plates & Cups
Having an outdoor wedding or rehearsal dinner often means searching for cute paper dining products. These picnic plates are super cute and eco-friendly.

Calla Lilly Drinkware Set
Add some wildflowers to this pitcher and drinking glass set and you have an instant country chic wedding decor item.

Moss Terrarium Bottle
If you are searching for a unique centerpiece idea look no further then these moss terrariums. These bring not only a very tranquil feeling to your table but they bring an eco-friendly feel as well.

Place Card Stamp
Part DIY, part pre-made this place card stamp is the perfect project for a rustic bride. Pick out some great recycled paper or shipping tags and stamp away.

The Uncommon Life

DIY Bridal Survival Kit

June 8, 2012

Hello Uncommon Goods blog readers! I’m Laura from A Girl Who Makes. I am here to share an easy yet necessary wedding day survival kit with you. Wedding days are memorable and can also be hectic. A survival kit for brides and/or bridesmaids will be a helpful gift to keep everyone calm and prepared. I’ve put together a little survival kit of some much needed essentials, but these kits can be customized easily by the contents put in the box.

MATERIALS: Gift Tag Stamp Set, twine or string, hole punch, card stock, scissors, and a box to hold items for the kit.

STEP 1: Fill the box with the chosen essentials. I included tissues, stain remover, cotton swabs, mints, bandages and some lip gloss.

STEP 2: Using the stamp set, ink the stamp and press it onto the card stock, making sure to have full coverage on the stamp. Press evenly when the stamp is on the ink pad as well as when the stamp is on the card stock. When lifting the stamp, be sure to lift straight up so you don’t smudge the paper.

STEP 3: Trim the gift tag using scissors to the size you would like. Also using a hole punch, make a hole in the tag as well.

STEP 4: Using the pencil from the Gift Tag Stamp Set, fill out the tag.

STEP 5: Take a piece of twine or string that measures about 1 yard and wrap it around the box several times. String the tag onto the twine and tie in a bow to complete the box.