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The Uncommon Life

The Uncommon Life

She’s Something Fierce: Our Favorite Moms of the Animal Kingdom

May 9, 2018

Bird Art Portrait | UncommonGoods

Mother’s Day is rapidly approaching, and here at UncommonGoods, we’d like to give a toast to all moms—not just the moms we know. In fact, we’re not even confining our celebration to the human moms out there this year. We’ve taken a deep dive into the internet underground in search of the animal kingdom’s most dedicated mamas, and today, we’re raising a glass to their efforts to bring up their young in some of nature’s toughest conditions. Read on for our favorites—plus, fuzzy babies below!

 

The Weddell Seal

A Weddell seal mom and baby share a smooch | Image by William A Link, USGS

Weddell seals are remarkable animals. Natives of Antarctica, they spend much of their time swimming around beneath sheets of ice, sometimes diving as far as 2,000 feet below the surface and staying there for up to 45 minutes at a time.

Weddell seal moms are even more remarkable. Each year, they raise a pup of their own following an 11-month pregnancy (yikes), and they do it all by themselves. When their pups are only two weeks old, these roly-poly mamas teach them to swim for the first time, providing invaluable instruction on how best to navigate the frigid Antarctic waters they inhabit. Other important lessons: how to keep air holes in the ice from freezing over; how to punch new holes into ice sheets using only their teeth. (Hey, seals don’t have hands.)

Eventually, of course, these pups need to fend for themselves… no matter how much they fuss. But at least that fussing makes for cute videos, right?

 

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The Uncommon Life

Make Your Own Mother’s Day Card
in 6 Easy Steps

May 2, 2018

Make Your Own Mother’s Day Card in 6 Easy Steps

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve outgrown your macaroni art years. Maybe you already picked up a great gift for mom, or maybe you’re still on the lookout for a the perfect Mother’s Day gift, but just because you aren’t sitting down to handcraft an epic gift masterpiece doesn’t mean you can’t give mom a little something handmade. Print off our free template and follow the simple instructions below for a DIY Mother’s Day card. After all, you’re never too old to whip up something she’ll be proud to hang on her fridge!

What You’ll Need

Materials

Our template (Just print this easy-to-follow template to get started. Click here to print: DIY Mother’s Day Card)
Scissors
Pen or Pencil
Tape or glue (Optional)

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The Uncommon Life

Introducing the New York Paid Leave Coalition

March 22, 2018

UncommonGoods team members are passionate about their work. As partners, parents, sons, and daughters we’re also committed to family. All workers should be able to balance the two, but nearly 85% of Americans aren’t able to take paid time off to care for a new child or seriously ill loved one. In fact, the United States is the only highly industrialized country that does not mandate paid family leave. That’s why we’ve been voicing our support for Paid Family Leave laws in all 50 states, including in our home in New York. To continue these efforts, we’re proud to partner with the New York Paid Leave Coalition.Starting January 1, 2018, New York became the fourth state to officially launch a Paid Family Leave program, which means that New York’s working families no longer have to choose between caring for their loved ones and risking their economic security.

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The Uncommon Life

Slainte! The Surprising Story of Irish Whiskey & St. Patrick’s Day

March 11, 2018

The Shamrock GlassCelebrating St. Patrick’s Day

You might not feel particularly lively the morning after a festive St. Patrick’s Day celebration, but that doesn’t stop many from partaking in the “water of life” in honor of Ireland. In other words, the rivers of Irish Whiskey will flow on March 17.

This golden-brown beverage has a rich history, so we thought we’d share a little more about Irish Whiskey.

Whiskey StonesWhiskey Stones & Rocks Glass Set – $58 Buy Now »

 

Uisce on the rocks, please.

Where did whiskey come from?

Actually, whiskey as we know it came to be in Ireland. In the 6th century monks used distilled grains as the base for medicines. They called it “Uisce Beatha,” in Goidelic, or “water of life,” thanks to its healing properties. (While some may argue that whiskey doesn’t have any healing properties, keep in mind that it is antiseptic and a pain killer.) Over time, the spirit became known as “whiskey,” a mispronunciation of “Uisce.”

Whiskey Tasting Glass
Whiskey Tasting Glass & Chilling Coaster – $40 Buy Now »

 

Irish Spirit

Whiskey love spread across Europe over time. For example, to Scotland, where it developed in to Scotch. It’s said that Queen Elizabeth I enjoyed imbibing in the distilled drink, and Peter the Great once proclaimed, “of all the wines, the Irish spirit is the best.”

Irish Whiskey Shamrock Glass
Sham-Rock Glass – $48- $50 Buy Now »

 

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The Uncommon Life

Protecting the Rare Kirtland’s Warbler with American Forests

February 18, 2018

*Editor’s note: Spring is almost here, and we’re celebrating by sharing a story from our longest-standing nonprofit partner, American Forests. Thanks to our Better to Give program, we’ve donated over $400,000 to American Forests, the nation’s oldest conservation organization, since 2010. Read on for a report on their efforts to conserve the habitat of the Kirtland’s warbler, courtesy of the organization’s Manager of Forest Conservation, Justin Hynicka.

A Kirtland’s warbler in Stubb’s Park, Centerville, Ohio; photo by Andrew Cannizzaro

A bright future for Kirtland’s warbler in the Northern Great Lakes

By Justin Hynicka, American Forests Manager of Forest Conservation

I have a love-hate relationship with red-eye flights. On one hand, they maximize daylight on day one to explore my destination, which I love. On the other hand, it usually takes a day or two to shake off the cobwebs from poor sleep, which I don’t love. As if one night isn’t hard enough, just imagine taking a red-eye flight for two weeks straight. Oh, and you are also the pilot.

This is the journey the Kirtland’s warbler (KW; Setophaga kirtlandii) makes twice a year, traveling 1,700 miles in 16 days from the Bahamas to Michigan in spring, and back again in fall. [1] Even though KWs pass though many eastern states, they are rarely seen outside of their wintering and breeding areas due to a low-but-rising population and because they migrate at night. After such a journey, it’s hard to blame them for being one of only a few warblers to nest on the ground.

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The Uncommon Life

Birthstones By Month: What Do they Mean?

February 14, 2018

Birthstone meanings by month:

MonthBirthstoneMeaning
JanuaryGarnet Protection
FebruaryAmethyst Wisdom
MarchAquamarine Serenity
AprilQuartz or DiamondStrength
MayEmerald Hope
June Pearl or AlexandriteLove
JulyRuby Vitality
AugustPeridot Beauty
SeptemberSapphire Truth
OctoberTourmaline Healing
NovemberCitrine Joy
DecemberTurquoise Friendship

What is a birthstone?

Birthstones are gems that are associated with a birth month, each stone has a unique meaning and significance. Like horoscope signs, when you ask someone “what is your birthstone?” they almost always know the answer. Today you’ll commonly see birthstones in jewelry pieces, like necklaces, bracelets, rings, or earrings as reminders to celebrate your birth month all year long. Besides jewelry, birthstones or the colors symbolizing the stones show up in many other types of gifts and keepsakes making birthday shopping easy and fun. Birthstones are a part of modern society and since ancient times it is widely believed that wearing your birthstone is a symbol of wellness and good fortune. See which birthstone is meant for you.

What is the origin of birthstones?

Christian scholars in the 5th century made the connection between the twelve gems in the Breastplate of Aaron, twelve months of the year, and twelve signs of the zodiac. They theorized that each gem was connected to a certain month or astrological alignment and that they would receive therapeutic benefits for wearing one during that time.

To receive the full benefit, people took to wearing one stone for each month of the year and attributed a different meaning and value to them. Eventually this practice was modified so that a person would only wear the stone for the month they were born in (hence the term birthstone). There was a great amount of disagreement over which stone should represent a calendar month until 1912 when Sears published an “official” list of all the birthstones and the months they represented. Since then there have been a few modifications here and there but the list remains largely unchanged.

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The Uncommon Life

14 Uncommon (& Surprising) Valentine’s Day Facts

February 9, 2018

Crimson Heart Umbrella
Crimson Heart Umbrella – $32 Buy Now »

 

Valentine’s day is a pretty special day.

Whether you’re lucky in love, celebrate with single friends, or share the day with family members, you likely have something planned for February 14.

But why is the occasion so important? Here are a few fun facts about St. Valentine’s Day.

Beating Heart Bottle Sculpture
Beating Heart in a Bottle Sculpture – $100 Buy Now »

 

Who is this St. Valentine guy, anyway?

Today, the Catholic church actually recognizes three saints by the name of Valentine or Valentinus. Each St. Valentine was martyred.

So, which one is the St. Valentine of St. Valentine’s Day?

Legend has it that the St. Valentine was a priest in Rome during the third century. The emperor at the time, Claudius II, decided that single men made better soldiers, not having their hearts promised to special someones and all. So ol’ Claud outlawed Marriage. Valentine didn’t agree with the emperor’s rule and went around marrying folks anyway. Eventually, Valentine got caught and Claudius sentenced him to death for his defiance.

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