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Wine

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: Aging Wine in Seconds with Legit Science

November 11, 2015

Louise - Gift Lab

Product: Wine Aging Tool

Research:
When I first read about the Wine Aging tool, I reacted with skepticism, as I imagine most folks would. Replicating the effect of cellaring a wine for a year in ONE SECOND? How can this be? It’s tempting to be dismissive, but like many 30-something women, I love my wine, and if there’s a way to enhance my wine-drinking experience, I want to know about it.

Continue Reading…

Gift Guides

Celebrate Sisterhood – Gift Picks for Your Sis

July 31, 2015

Gifts for Sisters

Sister can mean the one who was born into your immediate family or the “sister” who is your closest friend. Sisters are the ones that nurture you, support you, and laugh and grow with you. Any way around it, you’re definitely more than a little similar, probably look a bit alike, and have definitely gotten on each other’s nerves a few times.

In honor of Sister’s Day – August 2nd – we’ve put together a collection of our favorite gifts for the world’s best sister. Sister’s Day is a day to surprise your sister with something special – or meet up with your girlfriends for a night out! But most of all, it’s a time to simply enjoy each other’s company, which doesn’t require a special day. Whether she’s younger, older, or not even officially related to you, we’re sure you’ll find something she’ll love.

 

Gifts for Women | UncommonGoods

Big Gifts For Little Sis
Your little sister is someone who looks up to you (and helped teach you to be someone to look up to), taught you how to be patient (despite driving you a little crazy), and inspires you to be responsible (and have some fun while doing it). Her oh-so dramatic entrance into your family may have changed the dynamic a bit, but she’s a gift deserving of being spoiled with a great gift of your own. She’ll love it!

 

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Because her presence in your life is simply invaluable. No matter where the next years take you and what changes occur, you’ll always have a special connection that will never break. | Connected Hearts Necklace

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No matter which one of you was icier towards the other from time to time during the occasional spat, she’ll love the cute decor! | Ice Pops

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Now that she’s old enough to appreciate some personal space, she’d appreciate the Door Harp as an added seal against pesky little intruders… even though you suffered the hard way when she was littler: “Ugh, get out of my room!”

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No matter if she’s a tea lover, coffee guzzler, or she’s still sticking with hot cocoa, the Zenguin Mugs are a cute and witty appeal to your mutual need to chill from time to time.

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Whether she’s young enough to curl up next to you as you read along or she’s been reading legal briefs for a few years (but you read author Laura Numeroff’s If Your Give a Mouse a Cookie  with her as a kid), she’s sure to appreciate the adorable sentiment of What Big Sister Does Best (customizeable with the name of big sis!).

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The Bedside Smartphone Vase celebrates the person you’ve helped her blossom into while giving her a place to dock the smartphone your parents definitely let her get at an earlier age than you.

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Even though she’s a different beast, you’ve learned to each find your niche and rely on each other for support – your relationship is, in a word, Symbiotic.

 

 Sister, Sister!
Maybe you were actually born on the same day, or maybe you’re just close enough in age that people can’t believe you’re not twins. Either way, it doesn’t hurt to let her know you’re happy to have her by your side with one of these sweet gifts. 

 

You are Beautiful | UncommonGoods

Because no one can be told too many times. | You Are Beautiful

Butterfly Puddler | UncommonGoods

You spent mornings fighting over the bathroom when you were kids. The Morning Glory Butterfly Puddler is a great way to tell her that you appreciate that time she let you have the first shower. (After all, waking up to fluttering butterflies in the garden is much more fun than waking up to find that someone’s already used all the hot water.)

Wine Pairing Towel Set | UncommonGoods

You two already make a great pairing, but this Wine Pairing Towel Set ensures that the wine and food selections you choose to enjoy during your hangout time are equally well coordinated.

Seven Sister's Necklace | UncommonGoods

This stellar necklace depicts the “seven sisters” astral collection, inspired by Greek Mythology. They’ll keep it close, so they’ll never seem light-years away. | Seven Sisters Necklace

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The macaron is pretty close to perfect. It’s colorful, sweet, and there’s nothing else quite like it. Does that sound like someone you know?  | Les Macarons II

You Help Me Grow Planter | UncommonGoods

The You Help Me Grow Planter is a great way to let her know you appreciate all of the seeds of inspiration she’s planted in your life.

 

 A Sister is a Forever Friend Necklace | UncommonGoods

Nothing beats one of those sisterly heart-to-heart talks, but if a busy life has you behind on bonding moments, you can sum up what you want to say in a single line: A Sister Is A Forever Friend.

 

She’s Got It All
Your big sister is someone to look up to. She helped you become the person you are today. Be it her graduation, a new job, an engagement, or the birth of a child, you’re looking for a way to express how proud you are of her. Restorative, elegant, and sentimental, any of these gifts are sure to do just that – and give you a leg up to make up for all those times you had to (literally) look up to her.

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An excellent way to catch the attention of your ever-reading book-lover of a sister. She’ll get her nose out of the pages at the scent of one of the Literary Candles – themed to the scent of a favorite novel – before returning afresh with new olfactory inspiration.

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Artfully crafted, these alluring, colorful coasters are made from Brazilian agate rock under a philosophy of bringing elements of nature closer to the everyday home. | Agate Coasters – Set of 4

Sisters Globe | UncommonGoods

This radiant Recycled Glass Tree Globe molds shattered glass into a timeless symbol of your relationship with your sister. Even if things have broken in the past, the tree encapsulated inside the globe voices the impervious and always-growing nature of your relationship.

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Reminiscent of memories of summer playtime, the Dandelion Paperweight captures a fleeting moment with your sister forever  in a beautiful glass sphere.

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Celebrating Matisse’s artistic adage, this print is a reminder to always look for beauty and inspiration in your life – else you won’t see it. With a sister in your life, there are always flowers to be seen. | There Are Always Flowers

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Perfect for leavening up the kitchen decor, this Baking Duo Embroidery Hoop Art is a callback to childhood memories of baking with your sister – the true baking duo.

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Spritz up your sis’ routine with this collection of therapeutic-grade essential oils, aromatic medleys, and pleasant vibes. Each scent is hand-blended and suited for a specific place in your sister’s daily routine. | Aromatherapy Deluxe Gift Set

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You’ve always put her on a pedestal. Let her put her earrings, necklaces, and more on the Pedestal Jewelry Holder.

Garden in a Can | UncommonGoods

She watched you grow up and took care of you when you needed a little help along the way. After that, watching the Garden in a Can grow into fresh herbs will be easy peasy. (Or should we say easy leaves-y?)

 

Love You Like A Sister
So, you’re not technically siblings. Big deal! She’s been there for you through thick and thin, and that makes her family in your book. Celebrate your sister from another mister with a gift that says, “thanks for sticking around, even though you totally didn’t have to.”

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For a classic brunch date, you and your de facto sis reach for the tomato juice, vodka, and horseradish to make spicy, savory Bloody Marys, made intuitive by Alyson Thomas’ graphic representation of the classic eye-opener. | Bloody Mary Diagram Glassware

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She’ll love the vibrant cherry blossoms delicately shed from the tree evoked in this beautiful spring scene. | Cherry Blossom Snow Globe

See Myself In You | UncommonGoods

They say opposites attract, but you and your “sister” see everything the same way. The I See Myself In You Pendant offers a simple, reflective expression of the affinity between both sisters and best friends – one in the same in your case. | I See Myself In You Pendant

Love Grows Here

If a relationship is a living thing, none is more vibrant and healthy than what the two of you have. The Love Grows Here Terrarium acts as a microcosmic manifestation of that relationship – lush, living greenery encapsulated in a stylish jar – complete with a customizable figure holding the sign “I <3 You.” | Love Grows Here Terrarium

Butterfly Spikes | UncommonGoods

She’s always willing to help you see the bright side of any situation. Help her see some brightly colored butterflies. | Butterfly Attracting Garden Spikes

When Life Gives You Lemons | UncommonGoods

When Life Gives You Lemons, you make lemonade, so it’s only natural that when life throws a great gal your way, she becomes an honorary inductee to your family. | When Life Gives You Lemons by Jodi Kostelnik

Four Seasons | UncommonGoods

In the yearlong cycle from Winter, to Spring, to Summer, to Fall, the only constant seems to be that you’re perennially drawn to each other’s company. The Four Seasons Necklace celebrates the unique beauty of her favorite season while embodying the spirit that keeps you as close as sisters.

 

Treat Yo Sis 
Maybe she’s always been the most industrious of the litter and she deserves an aromatic day of restorative relaxation – or maybe she’s always been the spoiled one. (And you’re fine with that. Heck, you’ve helped do the spoiling.) Either way, treat your sister to a set of scrubs and spreads or a centerpiece for quiet reflection.

 

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Perfect if a hot cup of aromatic goodness is her quickest route to serenity, the Green Tea Herbal Kit includes nine herbs and three varieties of eco-certified, organic green tea from Japan, India, and Sri Lanka. Plus, it puts the tea in sisTer.

 

Flavor Infuser Water Bottle | UncommonGoods

Show your sis that it is possible to indulge without throwing health out the window. | Flavor Infuser Water Bottle

 

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Bring the spa right to her and treat her with the works – she deserves it! The Spa Experience Tin boasts “farm fresh,” all natural approaches to revitalization with ingredients like goat’s milk, lavender, truffles, and whipped shea cream.

Check out our gift lab so see a member of our team see just how spa-worthy the tin is!

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If she’s shea obsessed, indulge her in the Shea Butter Gift Set. Each blend of soothing salve is hand blended and contains all natural ingredients – and an especially high shea content for an extra smooth finish.

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Inspired by the ancient Indian theory of acupressure, this mat and pillow supply the perfect amount of pressure that releases endorphins similar to those we receive after an intense workout. If not for providing a bit of productive pressure, what are sisters for? | Acupressure Mat and Pillow

Thumb Waterer | UncommonGoods

 

Is her garden her happy place? Let sis take tending to her flowers to another level of tranquility with the Thumb Waterer and it will be almost like her troubles are washing away in the rain.

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Sisters nurture each other as lifelong sources of inspiration and encouragement, and this attractive journal is a place to ground those feelings. The journal itself is motivating, made from  thin strips of sustainable-sourced alder wood engraved with the message “Do What You Love, Love What You Do.” | Do What You Love Wooden Journal

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This low-tech tablet allows your zen-seeking sister to peacefully reflect on thoughts before they disappear into the sands of time. | Meditation Box 

 

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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiraton: Meet Tristan Martin

July 20, 2015

Our makers never fail to motivate us, encourage our creativity, and fill us with inspiration. So, when a new design enters our assortment, we’re always excited to learn more about the person behind the product.

What gets an artist going and keeps them creating is certainly worth sharing, and every great connection starts with a simple introduction. Meet Tristan Martin, designer of the Wooden Wine Preserver.

When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
When I was a kid, I spent a lot of time in the garage building my own wooden toys. My parents encouraged me to use resources available around our house and in the garage to create my own entertainment. My dad was a hobbyist woodworker and taught me some basic skills. Some of my favorite childhood projects were an electric wooden helicopter with a paper clip for a switch, a wooden sailboat, a kayak, a skateboard, a bike trailer, swing-drawer keepsake boxes, and Adirondack-style chairs. I found joy in being creative, experimenting in the garage, and designing my own unique toys, and I’ve been working with wood and various other arts ever since.

What was the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist?
I love being able to create something that’s useful and beautiful that people can use in their own homes. As a basement winemaker myself, I like knowing that my wine preserver enables people to enjoy each bottle of wine longer. It makes me happy, and I hope it brings a simple joy to my customers too.

What does your typical day in the studio look like?
I do my best thinking when I’m walking, so I start each studio day with a long stroll. This is usually the time that I come up with my most creative ideas. Good, strong coffee is another must-have, so I always start my day with a cup or two. My favorite time in my shop is morning, when the low sun streams through the open windows. I get into my groove listening to ’60s Latin Jazz.

Is there a trinket, talisman, or other inspirational object you keep near? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?

I inherited my dad’s hand-built workbench and antique hand tools, a constant reminder of the childhood days I spent learning and working next to him in his own garage.

Tristan’s antique hand drill | photo by Stuart Mullenberg

Imagine you just showed your work to a kindergartner for the first time. What do you think they would say?
Even though my wine preserver is obviously designed for adults, I find that young kids are often surprisingly curious about the woodworking process, and they tend to ask some impressive questions about the details of my work. They’re especially curious about what the button and levers do.

What quote or mantra keeps you motivated?
I just love seeing my ideas through from start-to-finish. Watching the progression from raw wood to a polished piece gives me all the motivation I need.

What are your most essential tools?
My hand-crank coffee grinder rivals my woodworking tools for most indispensable.

 

The Uncommon Life

Gift Lab: Flip & Tumble + Wine Tote + Bentgo: A-leftovering we will go

November 22, 2013

Research

I hate waste. I’m really OCD about it. Disposable shopping bags, takeout containers, and water bottles really bug me. And yet, I do shop, eat on the go, and need H2O. Thus was born my quest for the perfect personal food transport equipment.

3-ItemCollageHypothesis

Our Flip & Tumble Reusable Shopping Bags are light and small and hold a lot. Sounds promising. Our BentGO Lunch Box is good looking. Most of its lunch-toting brethren are decidedly not. It’s also a good size, and except for the lids, microwaveable (for warming up, not cooking), and dishwasher safe. Also promising. Our Wine and Beverage Tote, with its tough canvas outer skin, seems a lot sturdier than fold-up plastic bottles I’ve used before.

Experiment

Step 1: Shopping.

This was mostly accomplished at the Park Slope Food Coop, of which I am an enthused member. A sustainability-minded organization since forever, the coop doesn’t give out shopping bags. Flip & Tumbles are perfect for shopping there. They weigh virtually nothing, open up in a jiffy (faster and easier than any shopping bag I’ve ever used), hold a lot, and are strong and sturdy. The even have a non-slip patch on the inside top of the shoulder strap.

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Here’s how they look full of groceries.

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Here are most of the ingredients, spread out. (The bags actually held a lot more than this.)

Step 2: Cooking.

I bought a spaetzle maker no less than 6 years ago, and until now, had never used it. Sound familiar, gadget lovers? I saw this recipe in the New York Times, and knew this was what would make spaetzle happen in my kitchen.

To round out the meal, I decided to make mashed sweet potatoes with lime and honey (the recipe calls them yams, but they are NOT; shame on you, Saveur!) with broiled grapefruit for dessert.

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I put the sweet potatoes in a casserole dish and stuck them in the preheated 350 degree oven.

I then sliced the leeks and cabbage (separately) very thinly in the food processor. I melted a bunch of butter in a big frying pan and sauteed the leeks. But I forgot to take photos of all that, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

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The savoy cabbage, sauteeing on top of the already-sauteed leeks.

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Above is the mixed white all-purpose, whole wheat, and whole rye flour (yes, I ground it from the berries, here’s why), to which I added an egg and whole milk. It’s supposed to end up like cake batter, not bread dough, so you keep adding milk until it feels right. Because I used whole wheat flour, which the recipe doesn’t call for, I used more milk than recommended, because whole wheat flour absorbs more liquid.

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My spaetzle maker in action, at long last. You pour the batter gradually into the white hopper which you then slide along the holey stainless steel part that’s straddling the pot of boiling, salted water. The dough slips through randomly, drops into the pot, and cooks very quickly, rising to the top.

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It’s pasta…it’s dumplings….it’s spaetzle!

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The recipe calls for thyme, which I conveniently have growing in one of my kitchen windowboxes.

Now it’s time for it to be topped with grated Gruyere cheese, put in a casserole dish, and baked. But wait–where’s that dish?!

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Oh yeah, it was baking these. When I took them out, I didn’t bother cleaning it, because sugary, gooey sweet potato ooze can only improve a dish. I did mix it in, though, so it wouldn’t just burn on the bottom.

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The casserole in a state of baking readiness.

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The sweet potatoes, mashed with a fork and mingling with their new BFFs: butter, fresh lime juice, and honey.

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20 minutes after being put into the 425 degree oven: Done.

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Now for the broiled grapefruit. Easiest thing ever: cut in half, top with brown sugar (or not), turn broiler on, pop in citrus.

~An interlude, during which I eat this delicious dinner, and sleep. A new day dawns.~

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The true and ultimate destiny of this food, of course, was being consumed as leftovers. I added some homemade kefir I put into a can that I’d fished out from the recycling and washed (see above re: “OCD about waste;” also, it was the perfect size), because I thought it would go well with both the casserole and the grapefruit.

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Stick a fork in it–it’s done.

Step 3: A) Eating and B) Drinking

A) The spaetzle dish, like most casseroles, was even better the next day. It nuked up beautifully in its spiffy BentGO container. I ate it in about two minutes flat. No, I will not show you what that looked like. My mother might be reading this, and it would make her cry to see that all those years of table manners lessons were wasted on me.

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B) The Wine and Beverage Tote, alas, was filled only with water, because I was at work. (You think I can write all juiced up? No. I leave that to pros.) For purely scientific purposes, I did fill it with wine the night before. Miraculously, it holds an entire, normal-sized bottle, though you have to make sure the bag is poufed out all the way while (carefully) pouring. I recommend red wine, because the Tote isn’t insulated, so the wine will be at room temperature before long.

I really appreciated its sturdy canvas exterior, because it freed me from the nagging worry that something sharp in my bag might gouge it. If there’d been red wine inside, I would have appreciated it even more–no, not because of the alcohol; because of the potential for mess. (OK, the alcohol, too.) Note that I swapped out the original petite black carabiner with a larger one of my own, partly–but ONLY partly, I swear–because mine is pink.

Recipe links:
New York Times: Rye spaetzle gratin with savoy cabbage, leeks and caraway
Saveur: Mashed sweet potatoes with lime and honey
TheKitchn: Sweet and smoky broiled grapefruit

Gift Guides

Gift Lab: How to Make Music by Playing Wine Glasses

September 27, 2013
Major Scale Musical Wine Glasses | UncommonGoods

Research
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

Hypothesis
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.

Experiment
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

Conclusion

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.