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The Uncommon Life

The Uncommon Life

Video | Mindfulness, Sustainable Living, Screenless Play: Why Our Buyers Are Into These Trends

May 15, 2019

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The Uncommon Life

7 Teachers Told Us What Gifts They Actually Want

May 7, 2019

You’re reading this. And where did you learn to do that? Most likely, in school. So let’s have a moment of teacher appreciation! Gifts for teachers aren’t the only way to let them know much we appreciate their skill and dedication. They teach because they love it, so a heartfelt letter means a great deal. But they deserve to receive thoughtful teacher gifts, too, especially at the end of the year.

Teacher gift ideas aren’t so easy to dream up, though. So we formed a panel of experts (aka, teachers around the country that our coworkers and friends put us in touch with) to hear their thoughts on this question: What are the best teacher gifts?

 

Most memorable?

“I think the best gift was a cactus. The kid was really sweet, and for whatever reason I didn’t expect a plant. That was 16 years ago and I still have that cactus.” – Mark, Queens, NY

“The most memorable are from people I felt a connection to: pistachios from [an] Iranian student; [a] strange cat statue & clay baking pots & [a] cashmere wrap from [a] Russian student. Some were memorable for the strangeness: a plastic flower ‘bouquet’ that lit up.” – Lianne, New York, NY

“An orchid that is still alive and blooming in spite of me.” – Karen, Miami, FL


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Best gift? Most touching?

“[Gifts that are] fresh out of the oven.” – Kevin, St. Paul, MN

“I think [a coffee cup]. [T]he cup just said ‘Inspiration’ on it and the student included a nice card saying that he was inspired by my class and the things he had learned in it. He was of my best all time students. I teach at a media arts college part-time. I’m the Program Chair for Audio Engineering and Production. This kid is now out there doing it for real so I guess the cup don’t lie.” – Kevin, St. Paul, MN


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“One time a student gave me some drawings of me. Sweet gesture, but really horrible art. Heh.” – Lianne, New York, NY

“Last Christmas one student put together a kit to help me make the perfect pot of tea. I have also gotten homemade cookies, and once I received an excellent spa basket with soaps, moisturizers, towels, and bath bombs….Sometimes I get gifts for my birthday, or when my daughters were born. One year a student baked me a cake in the shape of Grumpy Cat, which was great. ” – Stacy, Pleasanton, CA


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“It is fun when a student notices something that I like and uses that to create a gift. Or, draws upon a common experience we’ve shared (like when I took my team to Disneyland and they bought me things there—cool pins and mugs.) – Stacy, Pleasanton, CA

“About five years ago, a student whose family was going through very rough times financially made a Christmas ornament for me. It is a heart cut out of notebook paper and a red ribbon. I hang it on my tree every year.” – Stephanie, Prosper, TX

“One of my [7th grade] students a few years back gave me a frame with a picture of us and a note saying that come graduation, I am so invited. I still have her note and picture on my desk.” – Marisa, Katy, TX

 

Most useful?

“A mom sent me an eye mask, chocolate, and tea—seriously she spoke my love language. She included a note wishing me a great break with plenty of relaxing time in.” – Marisa, Katy, TX


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“One class gave me a new printer because I kept apologizing for the low quality of my printer, which was slowly breaking down.” – Lianne, New York, NY

“A money envelope that could be personalized in some way and then PUT MONEY in it. Teachers need money. Like a money clip with Real Money in it. The amount of money we end up spending on classes is ridiculous. It would be great to get something back in return.” – Lianne, New York, NY

The other most appreciated, practical gift = food. Nuts. Wine. Dates. And sweets, of course. – Lianne, New York, NY

“A scarf. Navy blue with white polka dots. Silk faced on one side, blue wool on the other. Fringed. Had it for years and wear it every spring and fall. Wore it today.” – Mark, Queens, NY

“Functional things for the classroom.” – Karen, Miami, FL

Other valuable advice?

“Flowers I love, but very often I receive them early in the day and then I don’t get home until late and by then they’re half dead.” – Lianne, New York, NY

“I know gifts aren’t the ultimate way to feel appreciated, but they sure do help. It doesn’t have to be anything big, and it definitely doesn’t have to be anything costly, but a gift acknowledges that we matter and we were thought of. For the students that are younger and middle school students, we know it’s the parents that are initiating the process. It teaches the students that it’s okay to take that extra step to show someone you appreciate them.” – Marisa, Katy, TX

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Design, Maker Stories, The Uncommon Life

Video | Maker Story: How Meaningful Objects Helped This Designer Through Cancer Treatment

April 11, 2019

Through intense treatment, two-time cancer survivor Casey Benjamin surrounded herself with objects that inspired hope and reminded her to stay optimistic. Now, she’s paying it forward with her radiant, positivity-provoking designs. We visited her studio to learn more about her beautiful charms!

“These symbols were chosen for their power and purpose. Each charm is meant to tell the wearer’s personal story. They represent past experiences and accomplishments, as well as future hopes and dreams.“

I want to create jewelry loaded with good juju to help people rally hope and power through life’s difficult moments.”

Shop Juju Charms – $55-223 Buy Now »

 


Shop Juju Charms – $55-223 Buy Now »
 

“I wear charms to protect me and to remind me to live for today.”

Shop Charms & Spread Good Juju >>

The Uncommon Life

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

March 7, 2019

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.

Yours, Mine, & Ours Decanter Det

Yours, Mine, and Ours Engraved Decanter Set – $65 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.”

 

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

Meet Industrial Designer Tyson Cromwell, Winner Of UncommonGoods’ Spring 2019 Scholarship

March 1, 2019

Tyson’s winning design.

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 mesmerized by the beauty of winner Tyson Cromwell’s furniture design. Tyson received $1,000 to use toward continuing his education at Academy of Art University in San Francisco, where he’s currently studying industrial design.

We asked Tyson to share a little more about his career aspirations, his love of design, and how his father helps inspire his work. Check out our Q&A below to learn more.

Tyson and his baby daughter, who inspired him to design his winning crib.

 

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The Uncommon Life

Video: How to Grow Herbs
Indoors & All Year

February 22, 2019

1. Mason Jar Indoor Herb Garden


Mason Jar Indoor Herb Garden – $20 Buy Now »

 

2. Kitchen Essentials Herb Planter


Kitchen Essentials Herb Planter – $18-25 Buy Now »

 

3. Antiqued Brass Growhouse


Antiqued Brass Growhouse – $150 Buy Now »

 

The Uncommon Life

Why We Joined the TurboVote Challenge

September 17, 2018

On November 6, Americans will choose every single member of the US House of Representatives, a third of the US 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 US 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 US 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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