Saturday, November 22, 2014

Uncommon Goods for the Holidays

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, and Christmas just weeks away, are you busy making your Christmas and holiday gift list?  Do you find it hard to find special gifts that will be unique, perhaps handmade and almost one of a kind?  Do you like to find fun surprises to fill a Christmas stocking for the men, women and children in your life? How about useful items to give as hostess gifts for the holiday parties you attend? Then look no further than the Brooklyn, New York headquartered privately-owned retailer, Uncommon Goods, that endeavors to feature unique designs and handcrafted gifts created in harmony with the environment and without harm to animals or people.

I was excited to be asked by the folks at the Uncommon Goods Catalog to pick out a few items to review from their online holiday/Christmas gifts. .  I've been a fan of Uncommon Goods for many years as I have always loved their unique selection of gift items and the fact that many are hand crafted, made in the USA, and that about a third of the items in their collection are made from recycled or upcycled materials.  When my selections arrived everything was well packed, attractively packaged, and some of the items had tags attached that described the artist story that made them.

When I was making my selections. I was very attracted to this hand sculpted Red Slate Cheeseboard that I found in the holiday/Christmas gifts for Women selection.

It comes with a burlap storage bag, a soapstone chalk. and self-stick, nonslip, cork pad feet.

It is created by Brooklynites Sean Tice and Kristy Hadeka and comes in red or black slate sourced from Kristy's third-generation family quarry in upstate New York.  They cut and handcraft the natural edges of each board. I chose the red slate board as I thought it would make a nice backdrop for cheese and hors-d'oeuvres.

I think you'll agree this is a very nice board that I'll use all year round! It is food safe and washable, and if I chose to write the cheese names on the board next time, the soapstone chalk will be wonderful to use, as it is dustless and will easily wipe off the board.  The slate cheeseboard could also make a nice chalkboard or can be a large trivet, tray or platter.  What a wonderful gift it would be for anyone on your list who loves to entertain and who appreciates multipurpose handcrafted items!

Speaking of cheese, this is a handy dandy Cheese Keeper that I found under holiday/Christmas gifts--click here to see that entire category of unique items. The white earthenware, food-safe clay  Cheese Keeper has been fired at a low temperature which gives it the ability to regulate the moisture around it.  When placed in an airtight cheese storage container for cheese, including plastic, the Cheese Keeper absorbs moisture and helps keep the cheese fresher. I'm always disappointed to have to throw away an expensive piece of cheese because it has dried out or become mushy, so I'm glad to have found this item!  I think it would make a very unique affordable hostess gift for all the cheese aficionados in your life.  Don't you agree?

Another wonderfully useful item for the holidays and all year long is this Terracotta Bread Warmer. It is handmade of food safe earthenware clay. Simply heat it in the oven (instructions included) and place it in a bread basket, and it will keep bread, buns, and croissants warm.

Here is a recipe for Sweet Potato Biscuits that I love to serve warm this time of the year at Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.

Sweet Potato Biscuits


I cup mashed, cooked sweet potato
1/4 cup sugar
1 beaten egg
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 cup milk
3 cups self-rising flour
I teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup shortening

Combine mashed sweet potato, sugar, egg and melted butter in a mixing bowl.  Beat well with a fork until smooth and well incorporated. Stir in milk. Set mixture aside.

Stir together self-rising flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add sweet potato mixture and stir just until combined.

Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface. Knead gently for 10 to 12 strokes. Roll the dough to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with a floured 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter. Re-roll dough as necessary. Place biscuits an inch apart on a large baking sheet.

Bake in a 400 F degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the biscuits are lightly browned. Makes 16 to 18 biscuits. They are delicious served with honey or a flavored cinnamon butter.

As you can see I placed the oven heated Terracotta Bread Warmer in the bottom of my bread basket. My sweet potato biscuits remained warm the entire meal from the heat generated off the warmer!  It is another very affordable item from the Uncommon Goods catalog that you will keep using all year long!  It would make the perfect hostess gift or stocking stuffer for any man or woman on your holiday list who loves to bake!

Of course, when I was making my selections, I had to choose an item for my grandchildren to play with from the Uncommon Goods gifts for kids.

 I loved this Fantastic Anti Plastic Beach Toy set as soon as I saw it!

This brightly colored set is made in the USA from eco-friendly bioplastic made from corn and not petroleum, so it is biodegradable material that will break down in only 2-3 years if washed into to see, as opposed to the typical 500 years of other plastics!  A definite boon for our environment.  It is also dishwasher safe and holds up as well as ordinary plastic but without harmful chemicals.

My granddaughter did not have to wait for a beach vacation to enjoy using the Fantastic Anti Plastic Beach Toy set, as she had a lot of fun standing by my powder room sink, playing in the water with it and few other pieces of her toys.  It kept her occupied for almost an hour, and she learned skills such as pouring water from cup to cup, filling the cups with the scoop, as well as how the water flowed through the design holes in the lid.  I know she and my grandsons will have fun playing with this toy in the bathtub when they have a sleepover at our house, and also in our outside sandbox in the summer. Everything stores neatly inside, and it is compact, sturdy, and easy to store.  It will also be easy to pack in our luggage to bring along if we take a beach vacation in the future.

If you look at the special Uncommon Goods links I provided in this post I'm sure you'll agree that you will find the best holiday/Christmas gift ideas for men, women, and children, from fun jewelry and accessories, cool and attractive books, creative home decor and kitchen items, as well as items that can be personalized for a one of a kind gift!  

Good to know in this season of giving is that as part of their "Better to Give" program, Uncommon Goods donates a dollar of each purchase made to a nonprofit organization. They have given over $300,000  to charities around the world since they started this program twelve years ago.

Check out Uncommon Goods and make your holiday and Christmas shopping for the special people in your life easier than ever!

*Edited 11/24/14 to add:  Yes, Uncommon Goods does ship to Canada and 100 other countries! Go to their home web page and look for the American flag icon in the upper right corner.  Click on the arrow that is to the right of the flag. That will take you to a new page that will allow you to choose your shipping destination and currency. Some restrictions may apply.

*In full disclosure, I was provided with a budget to chose items from the Uncommon Goods online catalog as a gift for my use and review. All opinions of these items in this review are my own, and not influenced in any way by this gift.

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Linda Kay said...

Thanks for your newsy post and the wonderful pictures. Love meat and cheese trays.

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

Lots of great ideas for gifts for any age. Thanks for introducing me to this company. They have really, really nice things.

Lorrie said...

Looks like Uncommon Goods has a great selection - wonder if they ship to Canada?
The red slate cheeseboard is a great idea.

Buttercup said...

I'm not sure how I missed this company. I definitely see some great gifts and some things -- red slate cheeseboard -- I'd have trouble giving away. Love the pictures of the little water sprite.

eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat, thanks for the review on the cheeseboard..This company has some great gift ideas.. The cookies look delicious, I wish I could taste one now.. Happy Sunday!

eileeninmd said...

Hello Pat, thanks for the review on the cheeseboard..This company has some great gift ideas.. The cookies look delicious, I wish I could taste one now.. Happy Sunday!

Snap said...

I always enjoy letting my fingers do the walking (!!!!) through the Uncommon Goods catalog when it arrives. You picked some wonderful goodies.

Catherine said...

Thanks for sharing Pat! looks like I`m going to do a little online shopping.

My Little Home and Garden said...

Your sweet potato biscuits look delicious, Pat. I can imagine having one warm from the over with a bit of melting butter.


Sara - Villa Emilia (My Woodland Garden) said...

I love everything in this post, Pat! The Terracotta Bread Warmer is perhaps the most interesting of the items shown.
And your biscuits look just delicious!

Michelle said...

I have long been a fan of Uncommon Goods. They have so many wonderful things to choose from. You picked some good ones!

Jenny said...

Hi! I order from them every year! They are great for the 'hard to buy fors' on our Christmas list!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip, I must take a look at their site

Jim said...


SmilingSally said...

Hi Pat,

Thanks for contributing to Blue Monday.

Happy Blue Monday and Happy Thanksgiving!

Unknown said...

Hi Pat,
Looks like they have some wonderful things. Thank you for the recipe, they look yummy. There is never a time that little ones don't have fun playing with water. Your granddaughter looks like she had a great time. When I go home for Christmas, I'll keep that idea on hand for my little Grandson.

Have a beautiful Thanksgiving.

Judith @ Lavender Cottage said...

This is a company I've not heard of before Pat and I'm reading your post before breakfast which is making me hungry with the cheese and scones you've shared.
I like the idea of the cheese keeper to regulate moisture when storing cheese and the terracotta bread warmer would be handy in my bread basket.
Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday.

Rajesh said...

Any gift is wonderful. I like them.

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

Love the selection, do they ship in Canada?

Vanessa said...

I love this. Great gift.

Barb said...

I'll take that recipe for the sweet potato biscuits for sure! The bread warmer sounds like a good idea. I have a small one of those I put into my brown sugar to keep it from clumping. Enjoy the holiday, Pat. It's bitter cold here in Breckenridge. I had to bring the grands home early from skiing.

bj said...

Oh, fun. Can't wait to look at their site...the bread warmer is going into several of our girls stockings..they will love them.
hugs, bj

Stephanie said...

Thanks for sharing!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

Yes, Uncommon Goods does ship, and over 100 other countries! Simply go to the American Flag icon in the upper right of their home web page and click the arrow to the right. It will bring you to a new page and will show all the countries they ship to. Some restrictions may apply.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a good place to find presents!

Unknown said...

Fun stuff to give to friends and co-workers!!

Sue/the view from great island said...

What a wonderful post, I was just thinking about doing an earth and humanity friendly gift guide! I love your choices, the cheese keeper is something I could really use.

Betsy Banks Adams said...

Hi Friend, Just stopping by to say Happy Thanksgiving to you. Even in places where Thanksgiving is not celebrated (or celebrated on the 4th Thursday in November like ours is) —it can be a time for each of us to take time to thank God for our blessings and also not to forget the “Giving” in the word, ThanksGIVING. We all have lots of blessings —but many times, we ignore the giving part….Not just on Thanksgiving Day, but all of the time, please take time to contact family/friends just to say HI… And remember that a big SMILE can lift someone’s day…. Little things like that can really HELP..

Lots of good ideas for folks... Thanks for sharing. AND--the biscuits sound great too...

God Bless…
Happy Thanksgiving.

Linda W. said...

Your sweet potato biscuit recipe looks yummy! I'll have to give it a try.

Donna said...

I love this company...great gifts and ideas. And you can be sure I will be making those yummy!

Judy said...

Great ideas! Thanks for the introduction to this company.

The Kim Six Fix said...

I've gotten items from Uncommon goods in the past and they really are great!

Andrea said...

Those biscuits look amazing!!! I have never made them from scratch and really need to consider giving it a try. Because -- YUM!

Unknown said...

i love to present home made foods to guests on the slate cheeseboards, therefore i really appreciate sharing this amazing and delicious recipe.