The Uncommon Life

Why We Joined the TurboVote Challenge

September 17, 2018

On November 6, Americans will choose every single member of the U.S. House of Representatives, a third of the U.S. Senate, and many of the state and local officials who influence how our communities function daily.

Sounds important, right? Unfortunately, it’s pretty uncommon to see strong voter turnout during midterm elections.  Only 36% of the voting-eligible population cast ballots in the 2014 midterm election, according to the U.S. Elections Project. Voter turnout among women between 18 and 24 was just 18% during the last midterm election.

We’ve joined the TurboVote Challenge, powered by the non-partisan non-profit Democracy Works, to help the U.S. achieve 80% voter turnout by 2024. Democracy Works develops technology to help Americans overcome process barriers related to voting,  including registration problems, lack of time, or inconvenient polling places. Through their TurboVote tool, you can register to vote, request an absentee ballot, and receive reminders about local, state, and federal elections.

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Maker Stories

Inside the Artist’s Studio
with Candle Queen Tamara Mayne

September 10, 2018

Tamara sneaks a sniff in her Brooklyn, New York, studio; photos by Theresa Hensley

Some 20 blocks from our own offices in the Brooklyn Army Terminal, Tamara Mayne and her staff of candle experts toil in Industry City. Tamara’s studio is filled with smells: pear, bergamot, jasmine, gardenia, lemongrass—the list goes on. She’s a new mom, and it’s a rare treat to catch her at work in her Sunset Park outpost. “My home studio [is] where I do most of my work,” she tells us, adding, “in true New York fashion, it’s half of our bedroom.” But if her apartment’s where much of the behind-the-scenes, creative-director-y magic happens, Industry City is where it all comes together. After all, that’s where her Sunday Morning and Love Potion candles come to life—where soy wax is heated, mixed with fragrance, and poured into sleek, stylish tins and jars, topped off with stickers Tamara designs herself.

It’s no surprise that a candle-making studio might be a relaxing place, but Tamara’s workspace, with its vast wall of windows and tiny “shop” where you can smell every candle she makes, is especially calming. Dressed in jeans and a casually knotted button-up, she’s nothing if not approachable. That unstuffiness makes its way into her creations, too: they’re well crafted, beautifully designed, and smell great, but they’re not too self-serious. Made from soy wax, a sustainable, clean-burning alternative to traditional paraffin wax, each is perfumed and packaged with a care that shows… and they’re usually named something fun. You know, like “Love Potion.”

Watch our video to learn how Tamara bottles that “lazy Sunday” mood

We visited Tamara’s studio to see her goods crafted in the flesh—er, wax?—and spoke with her about where inspiration strikes (the subway), how long it takes to develop a new candle (longer than you’d think), and more. Read on for our Q&A.

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The Uncommon Life

Fashion Designer Arzu Huseynova Wins UncommonGoods’ Fall 2018 Scholarship

September 6, 2018
Arzu Huseynova 2018 UncommonGoods design scholarship winner

Photo by Alexandra Fedotova

We’re always on the lookout for the next great design. Of course, great designs don’t create themselves. Learning to craft something beautiful takes patience, time, and willingness to learn. We’re proud of all the dedicated folks out there committed to learning to do what they love. That’s part of the reason we started our UncommonGoods Scholarship program.

This time around, our scholarship team was wowed by the beauty of winner Arzu Huseynova’s fashion design. Arzu, who’s collection was inspired by Burning Man, received $1,000 to use toward continuing her education at The New School in New York, where she’s currently enrolled as a fashion design major.

We asked Arzu, who speaks four languages, to share a little more about her career aspirations, her love of fashion, and how her mom’s tailor shop inspired the collection that earned her this award. Check out our Q&A below to learn more.

"Mirage" design collection by Arzu Huseynova

Model Ianina Burnaeva. Photo by Sana Nodelman

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Gift Guides

Our Best Bets for September Birthdays

August 24, 2018

September’s coming, and you know what that means: September birthdays are coming, too. (It is the most popular birth month, if you didn’t know.) Don’t know what to snag your best Virgo—or Libra—pal? Worry not. We’ve got 19 suggestions, each more likely to induce birthday smiles than the last.

1. Fragrant soaps that mimic the look of real birthstones.

Birthstone Mineral Soaps | UncommonGoods

These soaps are so pretty, we wouldn’t begrudge you buying more than one—even if September’s all you really need. Colored completely with veggie-based dyes, they’re loaded with invigorating minerals and soothing vitamin E oil.

Birthstone Mineral Soaps – $20 Buy Now »

 

2. A necklace filled with real nonpareils.

Sprinkles Heart Necklace | UncommonGoods

Handmade in Brooklyn, it’s a great way to pay tribute to your sweetest pal.

Sprinkles Heart Necklace – $52 Buy Now »

 

3. Puzzles that unlock bottles of wine.

Wine Bottle Puzzles | UncommonGoods

Got a friend who likes their liquor with a side of problem-solving? These wooden brainteasers require decoding before they’ll relinquish their precious vino.

Wine Bottle Puzzles – $30 Buy Now »

 

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Gift Guides

Editors’ Picks: A Roundup of Our Favorite Products

August 17, 2018

UncommonGoods Editors' Picks: A Roundup of Our Favorite Products

With more than 4,000 uncommon goods to choose from, it’s not easy to pick favorites. It’s certainly fun trying, though. Our blog team took a look through our collection of product roundups to make this list of the items that got us the most excited.

1. Jars that make growing herbs indoors easy.

Mason jars aren’t just cute, they’re also perfect planters for your hydroponic herb garden.

Mason Jar Indoor Herb Garden – $20 Buy Now »

 

2. Animals that’ll keep your houseplants company.

Made from bendable brass-plated steel, these furry (and scaly!) friends adjust to hug the stems of your favorite indoor tree.

Plant Hanging Animals – $22.50 Buy Now »

 

3.Glasses that link two of our favorite things: wine and the stars.

Sure, you could take a look at the stars by walking outside at night, assuming you don’t live in a big city. But these glasses make for an even more fun way to track the location of each constellation.

Stargazing Wine Glass Set – $30 Buy Now »

 

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The Uncommon Life

What Pop Culture Staples Define Your Anniversary Year?

August 9, 2018

We compiled the top trends in food, film, TV, and music to help you celebrate in the style of your marriage year. Be prepared for a little nostalgia and a lot of great anniversary date/party ideas!

What year did you get married?

1968
1969
1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1977
1978
1979
1980
1981
1982
1983
1984
1985
1986
1987
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997
1998
1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008
2009
2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017

1968

   Popular Song   

“Hey Jude” by The Beatles

Originally written for John Lennon’s son, Julian, “Hey Jude” was the longest of any Beatles single, clocking in at over seven minutes. At the time it was the longest single to ever top the British charts and tied for the longest run at the top of the US charts.

See what else was popular »

Photo by ingen uppgift (Scanpix) via Wikimedia Commons

1968

1969

   Popular Food Trend   

Fondue

The trendiest thing to serve guests at a dinner party in 1969 was fondue. It could be cheesy or chocolate, but it always had to be seductive and delicious.

See what else was popular »

Photo by 663highland from Wikimedia Commons

1969

1970

   Popular Movie   

Love Story

It is hard to put into words how touching this love story is. For anyone who has seen it, you can appreciate how valuable the principles of sacrifice and dedication are in this ever changing world of ours.

See what else was popular »

1971

   Popular Song   

“Just My Imagination” by The Temptations

Soul music was in its golden era in 1971, centered around massive groups like The Temptations. Hearing the strings and backup harmonies of this track probably transports you to the listless summer days of youth, just as you were falling love together!

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1972

   Popular Song   

“Rocket Man” by Elton John

Elton John cemented himself at the top of the pop charts with this stellar hit. Ostensibly about an astronaut going out into space, it also describes being a gay man in a heterosexual world. Elton always had a way of giving his songs a double meaning.

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1973

   Popular Food Trend   

Granola

Granola. The hippie movement has contributed quite a bit to contemporary culture. Perhaps its most symbolic contribution is granola, a simple breakfast dish made by roasting oats in honey and adding fruit and nuts.

See what else was popular »

Photo by Hail Merry via Wikimedia Commons

1973

1974

   Popular TV Show   

Good Times

A refreshing return to social realism on TV! Good Times was set in Chicago and depicted a charming African American family who always find a way to put food on the table and have some laughs.

See what else was popular »

1975

   Popular Food Trend   

Sushi

A long time staple of upper class Japanese cuisine, sushi swept like wildfire across America in 1975. Part of the reason why it has stuck around is that sushi is actually a catch-all term for various types of rice and fish-based dishes (including nigiri, sashimi, California rolls, etc.).

See what else was popular »

Photo by Japan Sushifrom Wikimedia Commons

1975

1976

   Popular TV Show   

The Bionic Woman

Excitement about the future of technological advancement produced this sci-fi action series for popular consumption. Jaime Summers receives life-saving surgery from doctors who stitch her back up with bionic capabilities. Status as the world’s best undercover spy soon follows.

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1977

   Popular Food Trend   

Pasta Primavera

In Italian cooking, primavera means fresh vegetables. For increasingly health-conscious consumers, this lighter dish offered welcome respite from the heavier pasta dishes often associated with Italian cuisine.

See what else was popular »

Photo by Stacy Spensley from San Diego via Wikimedia Commons

1977

1978

   Popular Movie   

Grease

If you were a young lady in 1978, you probably thought John Travolta was cute. Coming off the huge success of Saturday Night Fever, Travolta burst back into the spotlight as the leading man in the film adaptation of the musical, Grease. (We won’t ask if your husband looked like John Travolta at the time, though).

See what else was popular »

1979

   Popular Song   

“Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson

The cute boy from the Jackson 5 had grown up, and he wanted to sing about the forces of attraction and desire. Not only did MJ sing like diva – he also danced better than all of his backup dancers, making his live show a once in a lifetime experience.

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1980

   Popular Song   

“Call Me” by Blondie

The singer of Blondie (Deborah Harry) was ready to set the tone for a new era of independent women just calling it like it is. And if it’s love your feeling, then embrace it.

See what else was popular »

Photo by Private Stock Records via Wikimedia Commons

1980

1981

   Popular TV Show   

The Love Boat

By the early ‘80s, enough people had lived (or heard about) the wild life you can lead on cruise ships. The Love Boat justified some of these assertions, painting life on a boat as a one surprising interaction after another. You never know what will happen when you leave the shore!

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1982

   Popular TV Show   

Three’s Company

Most of us have found ourselves, at some point or another, living in unusual circumstances without a reliable income on the horizon. Three’s Company gives props to the absurd fun that can emerge in these transitional periods of life, foreshadowing the popularity of sitcoms like Seinfeld and Friends in the ‘90s.

See what else was popular »

Photo by ABC Television via Wikimedia Commons

1982

1983

   Popular Song   

“Every Breath You Take” by The Police

Before the release of this ballad the Police were known as a funk-punk trio. Fans of the raucous early days may not have seen this turn coming, but we like his foray into the softer side.

See what else was popular »

1984

   Popular Song   

“When Doves Cry” by Prince

In this song Prince lays bare his deepest feelings about relationships and wraps it up in gorgeous symbolism. With a captivating video to boot, Prince was everywhere in this year.

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1985

   Popular Movie   

A Room with a View

Finding love in Edwardian times was a pretty limited affair. A Room with a View depicts the trials of looking outside your lot for love, and it is an engaging journey from start to finish.

See what else was popular »

1986

   Popular Movie   

Top Gun

Tom Cruise made a strong impression in this romantic military action movie. The critics did not give rave reviews, but as is often the case with film, the general public loved every bit of it. A sequel is in the works for 2019!

See what else was popular »

Photo by LCDR DAVID BARANAK via Wikimedia Commons

1986

1987

   Popular Song   

“With Or Without You” by U2

Now this is a love song. Bono holds nothing back in his declaration of love for a women who makes him sleep on a bed of nails for her love. Sometimes it goes the other way and ladies need some time to be sure of a man before jumping headfirst into love.

See what else was popular »

1988

   Popular TV Show   

The Wonder Years

What did we just say about coming-of-age stories? The top show in 1988 was The Wonders Years, which depicted the trials and tribulations of a suburban teenage boy in the 1960s. Not the most cutting-edge plot ever conceived, but like we said, if it’s about young people learning valuable lessons about the world we just lap it up!

See what else was popular »

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

1988

1989

   Popular Movie   

When Harry Met Sally

This instant classic arguably shed more light onto the complexities of a relationship than any other romantic comedy to date. The question of whether men and women can just be friends looms large – but in this case love wins out (as it always does!).

See what else was popular »

1990

   Popular TV Show   

Seinfeld

This hilarious sitcom ran its first season in 1989, and by 1990 all the men were dressing like Kramer and all the ladies had lipstick like Elaine. Okay, maybe it was not that influential, but it definitely remains one of the most important shows in American television history.

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1991

   Popular Movie   

Beauty and the Beast

Here’s hoping this wonderful tale is retold to new generations for years to come. It is definitely an uncommon love between Belle and the Beast – who initially imprisons her, only realizing later that he actually loves her.

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1992

   Popular Song   

“I Will Always Love You” by Whitney Houston

Seriously, what is not to love about Whitney Houston? She has the vocal cords of a goddess, supermodel looks, and a heart big enough for every soul on the planet. With this song she instantly became the soundtrack to countless weddings across the country.

See what else was popular »

Photo by PH2 Mark Kettenhofen via Wikimedia Commons

1992

1993

   Popular Movie   

Sleepless in Seattle

One of the most endearing films about love ever made, Sleepless in Seattle portrays the grief in losing a loved one and the angst in searching for love once again. A true classic for anyone fascinated by all the ways that love can change us.

See what else was popular »

1994

   Popular TV Show   

Friends

Following the escapades of Rachel, Phoebe, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Ross was practically a full-time hobby. Each encapsulating a different stereotype of young adults, Friends gave a new generation something to compare themselves against. Let’s hope things never went as bad for you as they did for this endearing bunch!

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1995

   Popular Food Trend   

Molten Lava Cake

This soft-centered chocolate mouthful was first introduced in New York City in 1995. Though it’s creation was a mistake, our taste buds never lie, and within a year it was popping up on the desert menu at high-end restaurants.

See what else was popular »

Photo by Vegan Feast Catering via Wikimedia Commons

1995

1996

   Popular Movie   

Jerry Maguire

Tom Cruise does a fine job making the life of a sports management agent look exhilarating. However, the crux of the film revolves around his inability to keep a stable marriage going with the loving Dorothy, who is ready to sacrifice her happiness for the marriage.

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1997

   Popular Movie   

Titanic

We all knew the story of the Titanic before it was made into a movie. But we’re sure no one thought the tragic story could be portrayed with such romance.

See what else was popular »

1998

   Popular Food Trend   

The Cosmopolitan

What drink did you have on the first date with your soulmate? If you were following the trends it was probably a Cosmopolitan, a drink made with vodka, triple sec, cranberry, and lime juice. Granted, it could have been another specialty drink of the moment, as the Cosmopolitan embodied the best of an emergent craft cocktail culture that has since become the norm.

See what else was popular »

Photo by Jon Sullivan via Wikimedia Commons

1998

1999

   Popular Song   

“No Scrubs” by TLC

The ladies in TLC were never going to settle for just an ordinary partner. And you weren’t either.

See what else was popular »

2000

   Popular Food Trend   

Smoothies

Do you remember the smoothie craze? Business popped up left, right and center offering low-cal, nutrient-rich drinks full of fresh fruit and added protein supplements. You can see why they were so popular when initially introduced!

See what else was popular »

Photo by Stephanie from Austin TX via Wikimedia Commons

2000

2001

   Popular Movie   

Amelie

The French have always indulged in the surreal, and Amelie is a romantic comedy depicted in this heightened style. The interior design of the Parisian cafe is wonderful, and the entire film is a whimsical feast for the eyes.

See what else was popular »

2002

   Popular Movie   

Sweet Home Alabama

Reese Witherspoon plays a lovable fashion designer from the South trying to make a new life in the uncompromising metropolis of New York. A romantic comedy on the surface, but also a vivid portrayal of the culture differences between the North and the South.

See what else was popular »

2003

   Popular Food Trend   

Pumpkin Spiced Latte

Trick-or-treating or giving out candy on Halloween was a lot of fun with a pumpkin spiced latte in hand. We still like this creamy hot beverage because, well, it tastes pretty close to pumpkin pie.

See what else was popular »

2004

   Popular Movie   

The Notebook

The Notebook offers a peek into the engrossing romance of South Carolina in the 1940s. Abandoned homes, fiery young love, and a brutal war that tore so many relationships apart. Heart wrenching cinema that leaves you wanting to live in Charleston circa 1950.

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2005

   Popular TV Show   

Grey’s Anatomy

Perhaps the success of Scrubs induced ABC to make a hospital drama of their own. Grey’s Anatomy had little humor about it, focusing more on the minutia of the doctor’s craft and detailing the personal sacrifice required to make it in the medical field.

See what else was popular »

Photo by Hunterfk88 from Wikimedia Commons

2005

2006

   Popular Food Trend   

Ramen

This Japanese noodle soup is a relatively recent creation, but it feels like it’s been around forever. Packed noodle soups definitely had a role to play in popularizing ramen soup across America, a status it has retained every year since.

See what else was popular »

Photo by Kyoww from Wikimedia Commons

2006

2007

   Popular TV Show   

The Big Bang Theory

It’s not true that all scientists are socially awkward. However, it is true that all three scientists in the Big Bang Theory do suffer from a lack of social graces. Not for lack of trying, mind you.

See what else was popular »

2008

   Popular TV Show   

Breaking Bad

The first season of Breaking Bad aired in 2008, a show that had millions of us captivated for the entirety of its five season run. We always found the best way to watch Breaking Bad was together with someone (like your future groom?) who was just as committed to watching every episode.

See what else was popular »

2009

   Popular Song   

“I Gotta Feeling” by The Black Eyed Peas

If there was ever a song that defined your first months of marriage, it was probably this one. Every time the song comes on you probably get transported back to the places and things you did as a couple – with this song as your soundtrack.

See what else was popular »

2010

   Popular Song   

“Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars

Like all the most gifted songwriters, Bruno Mars has an incredible ability to send a simple message about one of the most important aspects of a relationship. We all want to reach for the stars in life, but we also want to be with someone who loves us for who we are, inside and out.

See what else was popular »

Photo by Brothers Le [CC BY 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

2010

2011

   Popular TV Show   

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones captured the imagination of the nation when it first came out in 2011. A whole fantastical universe was created for us to indulge in, even if it did involve violence and incest. If your like us, you skipped over the violent parts and paid extra close attention to the immaculate set design.

See what else was popular »

2012

   Popular Food Trend   

Rainbow Cake

Any birthdays you attended in 2012 (including your own) probably included rainbow cake. Usually sectioned off into bite sized quarters, rainbow cake was yet another confectionary creation designed to delight the eyes as much as the tongue.

See what else was popular »

Photo by Mervat from Wikimedia Commons

2012

2013

   Popular Movie   

The Great Gatsby

The Great American novel was turned into a film (once again), and this time it portrays the roaring twenties to a younger audience who can only imagine the glitz and glamor of the time. Plenty of relationship intrigue abounds, making The Great Gatsby more than just a gorgeous cinematic experience.

See what else was popular »

Photo By Nelatti [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

2014

   Popular Movie   

The Fault in Our Stars

The blockbuster of 2014 was a tragic romantic comedy that really pulled at the heartstrings. Portraying the burgeoning love between terminally ill cancer patients makes you want to grip on to your loved one and cherish every single moment you have together.

See what else was popular »

2015

   Popular Song   

“Hello” by Adele

The Queen of the charts returned in 2015 with a track full of nostalgia for old friends you never see anymore. The video for the song was directed by Xavier Dolan and set the Vevo record with over 27.7 million views within a 24-hour span.

See what else was popular »

Photo by marcen27 from Glasgow, UK via Wikimedia Commons

2015

2016

   Popular Food Trend   

Avocado Toast

If you have ever experimented with avocado at home (like, when all you have at home is an avocado and a loaf of bread) you will know it can stand alone on a piece of multi-grain. It is the ideal healthy-yet-slightly indulgent snack. Restaurateurs took notice, and 2016 became the year of avocado toast.

See what else was popular »

Photo by Takeaway from Wikimedia Commons

2016

2017

   Popular Song   

“Passionfruit” by Drake

Although Drake is not married, he clearly understands some of the challenges of a long-term relationship. Commitment is one thing, but helping each other overcome interpersonal barriers? That’s a whole other level of devotion.

See what else was popular »

Photo by The Come Up Show from Canada (Jorja Smith & Drake) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Gift Guides

13 Lovable Wedding Gifts for Uncommon Couples

August 8, 2018

Finding a good wedding gift ain’t easy, especially if you’re looking to live a little and—gasp!—go off registry. Lucky for you, we’ve got plenty of goods that freshly minted husbands and wives will appreciate, from sweet, cheerful mugs to custom artwork. Check out 13 of our favorites below.

1. Mugs for the couple that caffeinates together.

Open-Minded Couple Mugs | UncommonGoods

Handmade in California, these adorable mugs hold up to 21 ounces of coffee. (That’s a lot.) They’re also sold individually, so it’s easy to nab pairs for couples of all kinds.

Open-Minded Couple Mugs – $48 Buy Now »

 

2. Hand-painted platters that toast happy endings.

Happily Ever After Platter | UncommonGoods

Suzanne Pollack’s sweet, sentimental design celebrates a love that’s written in the stars, whether it’s between brides, grooms, or both.

Happily Ever After Platter – $84 Buy Now »

 

3. A custom-made vase crafted from a champagne bottle.

Personalized Champagne Wedding Vase | UncommonGoods

They’ll be popping champagne all night. What better way to remember their big day?

Personalized Champagne Wedding Vase – $75 Buy Now »

 

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