Gift Guides

Our Favorite Gifts for March Birthdays

March 1, 2018

Got a good friend with a birthday in March? Look no further for this year’s gift: here, we’ve assembled 14 of our favorite gifts for all types, from plant lovers to whiskey drinkers. Intrigued? Go ahead… have a look.

1. DIY hot sauce for your favorite foodie.

Have you, too, run out of hot sauces to give your spiciest friend? Here’s a suggestion: Give them the tools to make their own.

Make Your Own Hot Sauce Kit – $34.95 Buy Now »


2. Tacos for their toes (and feet, and ankles).

Everyone knows a taco lover, and these cozy socks are the ultimate tribute to their tasty Mexican indulgence of choice.

Men’s Taco Socks – $10 Buy Now »


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Maker Stories

This Just In-spiration: Meet Lori Sandoval

February 28, 2018

Does this face look familiar? It’s not just you. Loyal readers may recognize Lori Sandoval as one-third of the WomenMadeLA team we spotlighted back in December last year. For those who aren’t already in the know, Lori recently teamed up with fellow makers Sashee Chandran and Debbie Mullin, both of whom sell their wares here at UncommonGoods, to form a collective of lady entrepreneurs taking the City of Angels by storm. And now it’s her turn to take a dip in the limelight.

Mexican Cooking Sauces | UncommonGoods

Like Debbie and Sashee, Lori’s creations are edible—sauces inspired by the diverse culinary landscape of Mexico, her parents’ home country, and ever-so-aptly dubbed “Mexican Cooking Sauces.” We’ll let you in on a secret here… they’re amazing. Like, “Where have you been all my life?” grade amazing. So it’s only natural that we had to ask her about them, just like we asked Sashee all about Tea Drops and Debbie about her delectable pour overs.

Read on for a full account of our conversation with flavor guru Lori, including talk of art history, sauce-loving kids, and wise words from the mouth—er, pen?—of Ralph Waldo Emerson, transcendentalist extraordinaire.

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Maker Stories

This Just In-Spiration: Meet Govy

February 20, 2018

To French artist Govy, planets are much more than big rocks throttling in circles throughout the sky—they’re measures of time, markers of our place in the universe, and fodder for some really cool creations. Creations like her Personalized Solar System Art Print, a joint venture with Martin Vézina that takes a date and time that’s important to you and turns it into a piece of sleek, custom-made artwork that highlights where, according to NASA, the planets and dwarf planets in our solar system were at that very moment. Pretty cosmic, huh?

We first caught a glimpse of Govy’s work here in our Brooklyn office, a world away from Japan, where she now lives with her beloved cat, Taiga. We love the inviting, but minimal look of her prints, with their personal flair and art-meets-STEM approach, and we knew we simply had to reach out and see if she’d tell us more about how she developed the idea. Read on for Govy’s answers to our burning questions (you know, burning like big balls of gas, billions of miles away), plus a couple of photos of Taiga herself.

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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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Maker Stories

Uncommon Impact: Help Elephants & Sip Coffee with this Handmade Mug

February 16, 2018

When you think “activism,” you may not think “handmade pottery.” Thanks to the work of longtime maker JoAnn Stratakos, we’d encourage you to broaden your horizons. Best known around these parts as the creator of Elwood, our de facto mascot, JoAnn’s latest creation—the Protect the Elephants Mug—harnesses cuteness for a cause. For every mug sold, we’re donating $5 to the PAMS Foundation, an organization dedicated to conservation efforts, including the protection of elephants, in faraway Tanzania.

From left to right: Ryan, JoAnn’s Production Supervisor, throws a Protect the Elephants Mug on the wheel; mugs get their handles; and glazed mugs wait to be fired in JoAnn’s Effort, Pennsylvania, studio

Why PAMS? We asked JoAnn that very question. “The MudCrew and I came about the PAMS Foundation through a social media post about Wayne Lotter,” she told us. But if “the MudCrew” is JoAnn’s nickname for her staff, then who’s Wayne? The former director and co-founder of PAMS, that’s who. Killed in the line of duty last year in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, Wayne founded PAMS in 2009 alongside fellow conservationists Ally Namangaya and Krissie Clark. It’s believed that Wayne—who received death threats throughout his career—was murdered for his anti-poaching work.

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The Uncommon Life

Birthstones By Month: What Do they Mean?

February 14, 2018

Birthstone meanings by month:

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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Give Your Favorite Fruits a Boost with the Just Ripe Fruit Bowl

February 12, 2018

*Editor’s note: The Just Ripe Fruit Bowl is coming soon to our assortment. Get it first by pre-ordering here.

Just Ripe Fruit Bowl | pre-order now, only at UncommonGoods

Thousands of years—that’s how old the concept of a fruit bowl is. In Pompeiian frescoes and the Met’s collections (and many places in between), you’ll find evidence of the delightfully basic vessel’s time-honored place in our kitchens. When something’s been around so long, though, why tweak it? We’ll let you in on a secret: Your beloved fruit bowl could be better. We’re talking way, way better. And with a little help from designer Myles Geyman, our Product Development team set out to make it so.

First, if you’ll permit the indulgence, allow us to set the scene. It’s a sunny Saturday morning, and you’ve just hit the farmer’s market in search of you favorite summer fruits (hey, it’s February—we can dream): peaches, cherries, plums, and nectarines. You arrive home with your tasty, tasty spoils, plop them all in your favorite fruit bowl, and wait for each to achieve maximum ripeness. But you’re foiled when one of your peaches turns mushy, unleashing a sea of sticky peach slop, and when you attempt to lift your spirits, you reach for a plum—only to find it’s neither soft nor sweet! If only you had some way of organizing your fruits, pushing the tough, unripe ones along, and keeping such disappointment at bay…

Enter the Just Ripe Fruit Bowl and its partner in crime, a little thing called ethylene.

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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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