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The Uncommon Life

6 Uncommon Wedding Proposals

February 7, 2012

I love a good proposal story. Something about a well-planned surprise and the element of pure astonishment makes me a little giddy. Traditional proposals are sweet, but this hopeless romantic prefers an original and outrageous idea for putting a ring on it, especially a personal gesture that reflects the interests of the couple. With Valentine’s Day coming I have spent an embarrassing amount of time on YouTube perusing proposal videos. These are my favorite most uncommon proposal ideas.

Matt got really high-tech for his proposal and created a movie trailer about asking Ginny’s dad for his blessing. It aired at a local theater that Ginny and her brother were attending. The best part is getting to see her reaction throughout the viewing of the trailer.

Now this is a proposal that made my Gleek heart sing. A Canadian couple was touring Philadelphia when the UPenn Glee Club broke into song with The Beatles’ All You Need is Love. I don’t think it took too long for her to realize that the song was just for her.

Jeff made his proposal to Caitlin with a mural in Lower Manhattan. What citizen would complain about graffiti as sweet as that?

This guy incorporated some children’s arts and crafts to surprise his school teacher girlfriend. He even made her think she was in trouble by having her sent to the principal’s office so he could get the room ready.

This flashmob proposal stole my heart, he is so adorable, dancing awkwardly while his girlfriend watches. The proposal seems to take her by surprise, I wonder if she knew her boyfriend would be taking part in public dance in the first place.

So you think you wanna marry me? These footloose contestants on Canada’s So You Think You Can Dance got engaged on air!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VgHuCJU191Y&feature=related

These romantic dudes incorporated their talent and love for the arts- singing, dancing, film-making and painting- into their proposals. Here are some ideas for a romantic, artistic Valentine’s Date.

1 Kaligraffiti Pen / 2 Cymbal of Love Pendant / 3 Musical Wine Glasses / 4 Sprocket Rocket Camera / 5 Vinyl Record Tie / 6 Film Festival in a Box: Love / 7 Ceramic Guitar Picks / 8 Instrumental Lighting Lamp

Gift Guides

Top 10 Valentine’s Day Gifts for Guys

January 18, 2012

Valentine’s Day is coming up, and while chocolates and flowers are nice, we know that some fellas would probably prefer valentines that can’t be devoured and won’t wilt in a few days. These great gifts for guys are uncommon ways to show the special man in your life just how lovable he is.

Custom Map Cufflinks
If there’s a place close to his heart, you can help him wear it on his sleeve. Whether it’s the place you first met, a landmark where you shared a romantic moment, or another special location, these custom map cufflinks are an elegant gift with a personal touch.

Titanium Multi-tool Collar Stays
Perfect for the dashing gentleman, who isn’t afraid to use his hands, Titanium Multi-tool Collar Stays each feature a half-phillips screwdriver, a slotted screwdriver, a thread cutter, and a bottle opener. Thanks to these sleek little gadgets, your Mr. Fix-it doesn’t have to sacrifice style.

Ball Park Color Top Pens
Maybe you’ve had a great times at a ballgames together, or maybe he’s just a huge fan of a certain team. Either way, this gift is sure to be a home run. Made from the wood from salvaged stadium seats, these pens are officially licensed Major League Baseball collectibles. Each also includes a certificate of authenticity.

The Buck Stops Here Money Clip
Cash might not be a traditional Valentine’s Day gift, but a stylish way to stash that cash is definitely acceptable. Featuring a vintage 1984 twenty-cent commemorative stamp, this money clip tells him that your search for your one-and-only is over. The buck has stopped, and your relationship is right on the money.

Seven Deadly Sins Shot Glasses
Maybe he’s a bad boy, and you’re okay with that. Giving him this set of seven sinfully delightful shot glasses tells him that you like his wild side.

Cast Iron Tool Bottle Openers
Although they look and feel like the real deal, these cast iron tools are actually hand-forged bottle openers. If your guy is handy with a hammer, ready with a wrench, or prepared with pliers, let him know you appreciate his DIY home repairs and can-do attitude with a tool he can use as he kicks back and relaxes while enjoying a bottle of his favorite beverage.

Wood Tie
He has everything you look for in a partner. A sense of humor, great style, and he isn’t afraid to be a little different. Sure, silk ties are nice, but a wood tie is a way to show him that you really do like his uncommon look.

Fire Hose Wallet
Made from retired fire hoses, these sturdy wallets are a clever way to show your guy that he’s your hero.

Frog Prince Paperweight
You knew that one day your prince would come. Now that he has, you can thank him for giving you your very own storybook ending with this pewter paperweight. Of course, your Prince Charming wears many hats–so why shouldn’t he have fun changing the crown on his?

Pick Punch
You could give him a gift card…OR you could give him a device to help him actually use the leftover plastic when he’s spent the gift cards he got for Christmas. The Pick Punch® cuts functional guitar picks from credit cards, gift cards, and similar sheets of thin plastic, so it’s a great way to show your Valentine that he rocks.



Looking for more gift ideas for the ones you love? Check out our Top 10 Gifts for Husbands, Gifts for Boyfriends, Gifts for Wives, and Gifts for Girlfriends.

Maker Stories

Old Instrument, New Tune: Jamie Cornett’s Instrumental Lighting

January 17, 2012

According to artist Jamie Cornett, there’s an ongoing joke among musicians; when they get frustrated with practicing or tired of music in general, they say they’re going to turn their instrument into a lamp. Jamie wasn’t frustrated or fed up with music, but he was intrigued by the lamp idea.

“I realized that there are so many instruments, beyond their playing years, that sit in closets and attics,” he says. “They didn’t even get to become lamps! It’s my goal to find them and turn them into displayable pieces of functional art.”

Although he calls his first attempt at lamp-making “a horrible disaster,” he still uses his first lamp in his home today. “I had no idea what I was doing. I created it using the wrong tools, and too much glue! But I love it because it reminds me of the original idea and allows me to reflect on how that idea has become something that I’m really proud of,” he says.

Jamie’s lamps are definitely something to be proud of. He has improved his technique, refined his skill, and perfected his tools since. Now, his creations are not only working lamps, but also beautiful works of art.

Of course, Jamie doesn’t always have an attic full of instruments. In fact, he works from his New York City apartment. So, he scours estate sales, pawn shops, and online auction sites for trumpets, clarinets, and flutes that have played their last notes. “I’m not ashamed to admit that at least one [instrument] has come from the streets of NYC on trash day,” he tells us.

While these woodwind wonders and brass beauties won’t be making melodies in the future, they are making people smile. “These lamps are the perfect gift because you can’t look at one without reacting in some unexpected way,” Jamie explains. “They remind people of their favorite jazz piece or hours spent in a practice room preparing for an audition. Each one has the ability to make you feel like it was made with just you in mind.”

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.

Design

Comments of the Week

December 2, 2011

With the gift-giving season booming, UncommonGoods has been bustling! We’re answering customer questions, helping people find great gifts, and taking, packing, and shipping orders. But don’t worry, through all of the holiday shopping fun, we haven’t forgotten to find great new products for our community voting app. We’re happy to see that our community is able to take a break from baking Christmas cookies and writing letters to Santa to share votes and comments with us!

Some of our favorite feedback this week comes from commenters who’ll zip it when it comes to headphones, want to leave a lasting impression, and are excited about open discussion.

Many commenters love the fun design of the i-Slide Zipper Headphones, but Maggie pointed out that they’re also practical.



Good point, Maggie! We agree that the tangle-free aspect is a definite bonus.

Another fashion accessory in the lineup this week isn’t quite as bold as the bright orange headphones. Inner Message Rings make their mark subtlety. The raised letters and symbols on the inside of each ring actually leave imprints in your skin.

ER questioned whether the ring would be a good fit, but Stephanie and Ranel are convinced that this design could be a comfy, everyday piece.

Ranel’s favorite product this week isn’t the only fun modern design getting buzz. The Modern Bottle Opener is getting noticed for it’s unusual size and shape.

Do you agree with Laura that this modern design could get the conversation flowing? Are you like Roberta and have a bartender friend in mind? We’d love to hear your feedback on this, and all of the great uncommon designs up for voting this week!

Gift Guides

Holiday Gifts Your Teen Will Love

November 22, 2011

The holiday season is is in full swing, and we’re pouring through our assortment selecting great gifts for everyone on your shopping list! Many of our picks are inspired by our Twitter contest winner, Jodie. She won a $500 UncommonGoods shopping spree earlier this year, and we’ve had a ton of fun helping her choose the perfect gifts for her favorite people.

After creating guides for babies and kids based on Jodies’ nephews, age 8 months to 6 years, we realized that although Jodie doesn’t have a teen on her shopping list, many parents, aunts and uncles, and grandparents (to name just a few) do. With this in mind, we picked a few of our favorite gifts for teens.

Remote Control SUV Kit- It may not be time to hand over the keys to a new car, but you can hand over this cool kit. The Remote Control SUV kit starts out as a puzzle and snaps together to become a motorized vehicle.

Bike Bells- A great stocking stuffer, these hand-painted bike bells are functional, funny, and stylish.

Guitar String Bracelets- Whether the teen in your life is a musician, music-lover, or just likes to look good, these unisex accessories are chart toppers.

Sneaker Customization Kit- Designer shoes are expensive, but this kit, which includes sneaker wipes, paints, and a high-quality paint brush, makes it easy for your favorite teen to create their own.

Dancing Lion Speaker- Plug an iPod or another music device up to this lively lion and he dances and sings along. Check out our video to see the King of the Jungle boogy.

Recycled Cotton Animal Mittens- Trendy, but still uncommon, these cozy, cute mittens are made from yarn spun from leftover fabric from upholstery factories that would have otherwise been discarded. They’re also available in mink and skunk.

Black Cat Headphones- More comfortable than earbuds, these hand-crocheted headphones have a vintage feel that still appeals to modern teens.

Big Grips iPad Case- Available in blue or green, these grippy foam covers make your teen’s favorite electronic sidekick easier to hold on to.

From fashionable accessories and beautiful jewelry to techie gadgets and fun games, we’ve got all kinds of great gifts for teens. Stay tuned for more gift guides to find perfect presents for everyone in your life this season!

Need a gift recommendation for a hard-to-shop for teen? Leave a comment below.

Maker Stories

Inventors Month: The Alyce Santoro Story

August 18, 2010

When I first saw the sonic fabric tie, I knew which uncommon artisan I wanted to talk to for National Inventors Month.  Alyce Santoro makes each sonic tie from prerecorded audio-cassette tapes– and if you’ve got a tape deck handy, you can actually listen to your tie sing. The sonic fabric tie is available for $120 in platinum or onyx black.

Read my interview with Alyce Santoro below

Continue Reading…

The Uncommon Life

Gift Lab #4: Speaker-Easy

June 2, 2010
Balloon Speaker - Ameet

Product Name: Balloon Speaker

Background Research: I love to listen to music, but find headphones constricting. I want to be able to listen to my music throughout my house and when I travel.

cute little speaker

Hypothesis: I’m hoping that the balloon speaker will be just as easy to use and carry as headphones.  I also like the idea of sharing my music with others, but am skeptical about sound quality.

Experiment: I’d like to test speaker out around the house, in the kitchen and the bathroom, and bring it with me on trip to New Orleans.

Results: The balloon speaker is remarkably easy to use. I just opened the box and connected to the headphone jack in my iPod, and instantly I had music!  I was also impressed with the battery life (5 hours of continuous play) and it can be recharged by connecting to your laptop.

Fits in suitcase

It’s even more lightweight and portable than I imagined. It fits in a cute little pouch (about the size of my hand), and has no issue getting into a suitcase or getting past airport security.

It’s also super cute! Did I mention it looks just like a clown’s nose?

Music in the Kitchen

I’ve especially enjoyed using the balloon speaker in the kitchen and listening to podcasts of This American Life while I am cooking.  It’s here I really appreciate the size of the balloon speaker, considering the small size of my apartment’s kitchen.

I’ve also used it while getting ready in the morning – taking it with me into the bedroom and the bathroom (note: unit is not waterproof).

Sound quality was pretty good. It’s a great alternative for headphones, but does not replace a home stereo. For parties or more “serious listening” I’d recommend an iPod Docking Station or our Ceramic Speakers.

Conclusion: I love my balloon speaker!  I’m not someone who collects a lot of stuff, but this is a really cute and practical item. I definitely plan to take it on my other trips this summer – especially the beach. I think it’s a great gift for any music lover and it’s priced under $50.

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