11 Unique Gift Ideas That Are So Unusual We Can’t Say No

Tis the season for holiday shopping (at least amongst the forward-planners in our midst), and who doesn’t want impressively original gift ideas? Not that we don’t love getting and giving candles, but nothing really says “I love you” like dinosaur garden statues or logs that grow shiitake mushrooms, are we right? Thankfully, unique gift emporium UncommonGoods is here with these and more surprising offerings sure to amuse and delight everyone on your list. Read on for our picks, and get shopping before all the good stuff is gone!

For the Quirky Gardener

Dino-philes and green thumbs alike will surely appreciate these steel garden sculptures, which were made by hand in Arizona.

Buy It! Velociraptor Garden Sculpture Set, $ 180; uncommongoods.com

For the Farm-to-Table Fanatic

Maybe your significant other takes an interest in micology, or maybe they like locavore dining. Whatever the case may be, this shiitake mushroom-growing kit, which is good for up to three years’ worth of fungi, is certain to please.

Buy It! Shiitake Mushroom Log Kit, $ 30; uncommongoods.com


For the Tequila Enthusiast

Those who appreciate a fine tequila will love this set of four reusable, hand-carved shot glasses made from Himalayan sea salt. Salud!

Buy It! Himalayan Salt Tequila Glasses, $ 28 for a set of four; uncommongoods.com


For the Sports Fan

Not fun: Scraping snow off your car in the dead of winter. Slightly more fun: Scraping snow off your car with a novel hockey stick snow brush. Perfect for the hockey-viewer (or player) in your life.

Buy It! Hockey Stick Snow Brush, $ 25; uncommongoods.com


For the Cat Fancier

Any friend of felines knows that cats need something to scratch on, and we’d rather it be this cute cat-sized laptop scratcher than the new couch.

Buy It! Laptop Cat Scratching Pad, $ 35; uncommongoods.com


For the Avocado Toast Addict

No ugly brown avocado halves to be found here! These specialty kitchen items are made from BPA-free silicone and ensure more efficient avocado storage. The pit pocket can conveniently be pushed in or out depending on which half you’ve saved.

Buy It! Avocado Huggers, $ 7.95 for a set of two; uncommongoods.com


For the Animal Lover

Animal enthusiasts (or anyone who appreciates the cuter things in life) will go wild for this beginner-level felting kit, which provides materials and guidance for making 2-3 tiny, adorable wool hedgehogs. Thoroughly aww-inducing.

Buy It! Hedgehog Needle Felting Kit, $ 20; uncommongoods.com


For the Beer Drinker

Exalt six packs with these peel-and-stick magnetic strips, which adhere to the ceiling of your fridge and allow you to store bottles of your favorite brew up high. Not only do they free up precious refrigerator real estate, they look pretty darn cool.

Buy It! BottleLoft, $ 38; uncommongoods.com


For the Eco-Conscious

This ingenious solar-powered charger is portable and powerful — it’s around the same size and weight as an iPhone and delivers a full charge in two hours. It also emits light for up to 150 hours, if you please. And for each purchase, the makers of the device will give one solar-powered light to people in areas of the world without electricity. Now that’s illuminating!

Buy It! Solar-Powered Charger & Light, $ 59.95; uncommongoods.com


For the Friend Whose Phone is Always Dying

For those in perpetual need of a phone charger, this bracelet is a game-changer. Its long-lasting lithium battery charges up to 50 percent in 40 minutes — not to mention it makes a good-looking accessory!

Buy It! Phone-Charging Bracelet, $ 149; uncommongoods.com


For the Humorist

The jokester in your life will find endless amusement in this Bluetooth-connected, banana-shaped wireless handset, which is designed to take your cell phone calls sans radiation exposure. It’s USB-rechargeable and made from recycled plastic for maximum appeal.

Buy It! Bluetooth Banana Phone, $ 40; uncommongoods.com



Fashion Deals Update:

As Pence kicks off his Asia tour, other countries have their own ideas for the ‘Indo-Pacific’

Before the Trump administration began calling for unimpeded commerce and an end to authoritarianism in the Indo-Pacific, both Japan and Indonesia already had their own policy ideas for the critically important region.


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These 14 Ideas Are the Next Best Thing to a Mudroom

Not every home has—or needs—a full mudroom, but everyone needs a place to handle the comings and goings of today’s busy families and all their gear. If you’re wondering how to create the convenience of a mudroom without having a dedicated room for the purpose, you’re in luck. These 14 photos offer great ideas for mudroom alternatives that suit a range of budgets and space limitations.
Bob Vila : Trusted Home Renovation & Repair Expert


‘Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4’ Feels Absurdly Polished, But Lacks New Ideas

As you might expect, with servers only going live for launch, much of what Black Ops 4 has to offer remains untested and even unknown. Consequently, for now, this review will focus upon our immediate reactions to the game’s full gamut of modes. We will update this with a finalscore once we’ve poured enough rounds in to reach a definitive verdict.

We’re just going to come out and say it. Right from the off. Headshot the elephant in the room so to speak. BANG BANG. Okay, well look, after immersing ourselves in Black Ops 4 for the weekend (we’ll update this review later in the week when the servers have become more populated and we can collect our thoughts further) we really miss the campaign mode. There. Said it. Whether you will or not will largely depend on whether you’ve enjoyed Call Of Duty campaign modes in the past. Either way, consider this. Yes, Activision reserve the right to do anything it damn please with its own intellectual property, but we can’t help feeling that the absence of a campaign in Black Ops this year sets a worrying precedent.

You might think that sounds overly dramatic. After all, the new title sees developers Treyarch giving the lion’s share of players exactly what they want. Which is, the opportunity to shoot people in the head using a variety of very big, highly fetishized guns in a crisp, meaty fashion. Some might applaud this. They’ve listened to the community and they’ve given players exactly what they want, right? Well sorry Treyarch, art doesn’t work like that.

It’s the reason why The Lord Of The Rings isn’t just four hours of orcs fighting. The reason why you have to play full games of football in FIFA and not just 90 simulated minutes of hitting volleys from the edge of the box. It’s the reason, maybe, why The Rolling Stones wrote a song called You Can’t Always Get What You Want. There is a gaming element to Black Ops 4, it’s why you’re here, but we’d argue it’s just as much of a toolkit as it is a game.

That’s not to say it’s not a lot of fun. It is.


In fact, there’s almost an Orange Box feel to Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4, in that, where Valves’ seminal 2007 compilation gave you five separate games under one banner, Black Ops 4 offers three modes of play, each disconnected from each other, yet all of an extremely high quality. Of the three, Blackout is the newbie, and yet not especially different to the BETA you most likely have already played.

It’s CoD’s concession to the modern mania for Battle Royale – arguably the reason why Activision felt that it had to do something different this year, such is the fear that the likes of Fortnite and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds will leave the once dominant FPS looking like yesterday’s news. We can report they’ve done it really well.

As expected, you share the map with up to a hundred other players, though at the time of writing we haven’t been in a game with more than seventy – some have been positively lonely! – and after twenty odd rounds, we felt it played a lot like PUGB might if PUGB didn’t often feel so rickety. We’ll take that.

There are some flaws; some of the maps seem unnecessarily big, with lots of open space and many empty buildings. Playing alone and not in a squad is often infuriating and makes for very short games. Revive me! Please… But it’s worth remembering that Blackout is a launching pad for a new era of CoD, and yet they’ve delivered a firm, stable one.

Veterans will recognise the maps from outings that have come prior in the series – there’s a luxury villa, some kind of army compound, an airport; there’s nothing like a round of bullets to the brain to cure a spot of déjà vu – and the mode is given a distinct Black Ops feel to it by virtue of having areas of the maps populated with zombies and mystery boxes with rare weapons inside. This isn’t just a Battle Royale mode. It’s a Battle Royale inside Black Ops’ infrastructure, and it’s as slick and as meaty as you’d expect. Not as frantic though.

There’s something slower about it than we expected. Of course, it’s difficult to assess the mode with only a third of the players who are supposed to be in the game are online, but we hope the matches become more fevered. We don’t turn to Black Ops for sedate. And yet, the true test of whether Blackout can better Battle Royale FPS experiences elsewhere, will come if and when special events are held for users.

Hold the line on that one. More news when we have it…


Speaking of zombies, this time it’s a hulk of a mode, with three different adventures available. Two share the same cast of characters – Scarlett Rhodes, Diego Necalli, Bruno Delacroix, Stanton Shaw – with one mission set on the sinking Titanic (Voyage Of Despair, the closest thing we have to a campaign – it’s got cutscenes and everything!) and the other inside the pages of the greatest Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson Fighting Fantasy novel never published.

In this mode, named IX, the aforementioned foursome are plunged into a gladiatorial arena and forced to fight their way through wave after wave of zombies and zombie-adjace creatures – there’s zombie tigers in the game! – all for the crowd’s approval. It’s ridiculously fun. The characters, who quip throughout the veritable gore platter they subsequently serve up, are brilliantly written. It might be – might be – the most fun Zombies experience Black Ops has ever given us.

The third mode is called Blood Of The Dead, and is a re-imagining of the classic Mob Of The Dead map from 2012’s Black Ops 2. You play as the ‘Primis’ crew, specifically the versions of them from Origins. That’s ‘Tank’ Dempsey, Nikolai Belinski, Takeo Masaki and Edward Richtofen, all with jingoistic racial stereotypes in tow. It’s fun, but we don’t ask voice actors to voice Asian characters like that anymore Treyarch, okay? While we remember, there’s a pretty neat ‘customize your own zombie’ device with the main Zombies hub, which we’re going to get right into the guts of forthwith – pun most definitely intended.


A few thoughts on Multiplayer, which we should say, is the mode we’ve spent the least amount of time with thus far. There are a few things we’ve experienced that you should know. Health no longer auto-regenerates, which doesn’t feel a lot like Black Ops if we’re telling the truth, yet maybe it’s something which will in time. Also, the game is largely concerned with making you play as a unit of specialists, each with different jobs to do.

Remember Brink? Of course you do. It was really, really boring, because, as is the case here, nobody goes into a FPS wanting a grapple hook rather than a flamethrower. Now, this isn’t Brink, but we bring it up to highlight the problem with the device. Again, maybe we’ll feel differently in time. There’s a character called Nomad. He’s got an attack dog he can call upon. We like dogs. Attack dogs too. As long as they’re attacking someone else but us, obviously.

Is Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 Any Good?

First impressions, then? Well, Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4 is certainly a competent, varied FPS experience. It restores a franchise that was in danger of looking like just another shooter to being an AAA title that’s a pretty big deal. Fun will be had. Servers will be full. But here’s the thing. Call Of Duty has been with us a long time – fifteen years and counting – and it became the titan it was for well over a decade – by innovating. What Black Ops 4 does is shamelessly cherry-pick modern trends (some of which are boundlessly creative – even if Fortnite isn’t your cup of health, it’s difficult to argue it’s not a game drowning in ideas) and view them through its aesthetic.

Essentially, Black Ops 4 a Frankenstein Monster of a FPS experience. That’s fine. It’s also a little bit sad. Time will tell if the package peels further back to reveal more of its own soul.

The post ‘Call Of Duty: Black Ops 4’ Feels Absurdly Polished, But Lacks New Ideas appeared first on FANDOM.



The Weekend Reset: Big ideas, a dying art, and some tunes for your weekend.

It’s Friday. Looking for something to switch up your weekend, or to give you an excuse to relax a little? That’s what the Weekend Reset is for. Each week contributor Tim Johnstone pulls together five things to get your weekend started. Could be something to read or watch, something to eat or listen to, or even something to do. Enjoy the weekend fellas.


APPRECIATE: Once upon a time these guys were everywhere

It is one of my favorite things about business travel: ending up in a hotel with overnight shoe shine service. Yes, it’s a bit of luxury but it always seems worth the cost. Shoe shine stands were a part of one’s everyday environment. You would see them in airports and kiosks at train stations. They were in many department stores and nicer hotels. And then, not so much. It really is an art. Thanks to Dappered reader John S for sending this our way. It is really cool. Also, I would be a doofus if I didn’t remind you all of this Dappered post.


WATCH: It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown!

Let’s just admit that kids have always been dicks. And then let’s feel really terrible for Linus because you totally identify with him and…uh…forget that. Pop some corn and remember that when in need of a last minute Halloween costume, a sheet with black holes sharpie onto it with two holes for eyes and a paper bag with rocks is as easy as it gets. Also, identifiable.


LISTEN: You know you are a 90’s indie-rock nerd when…

It’s one of those weeks where I was listening to a lot of music while working on the Reset. So I made a playlist. It started with Hum and boom! I ended up going down a 90’s indie-rock kind of rabbit hole. This was music that I either promoted, played on the radio, played in clubs or sold at an indie record store.


SAFEGUARD: No, really, you might need to change your passwords. 

I’m not going to share with you the seriously effed up stories I’ve seen this week about hacking because that would be adding insult to injury. There are already so many reasons for you to head over here and find out who may have unintentionally shared your personal information. It does get old doesn’t it?


CONSIDER: A thoughtful take on you and me and what ails us. 

Art of Manliness

Any other existential astronauts out there? Also, obligatory.

Tim Johnstone is Dappered’s music correspondent as well as our resident gatherer of all things interwebs related. He’s currently undergoing a Tim Improvement Project™ (Version 4.0). It’s not pretty.

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Trends 2 Watch: Family Room Design Ideas

Home Trends’ Style Editor Jo Alcorn shares some family room design ideas.

Photography by Jason Hartog

SEATING Family rooms need adequate seating for reading, relaxing and hosting movie nights. In this space, I chose an oversized sectional and complemented it with a side chair and a modern rocker. When arranging your seating, be sure to also add hard surfaces such as a large coffee table and side tables to hold snacks and drinks.

PERSONAL TOUCHES Large scale frames featuring artistically taken family photos make a great statement over a sofa and are a great alternative to a gallery wall.

ACCESSORIZE ME Don’t shy away from accessories in a family room. Find a way to incorporate family treasures, bowls and lush throw cushions to give the space an elevated look.

TO SERVE AND PROTECT A high quality area rug goes a long way by protecting your valuable hardwood floors. Choose a subtle color in an interesting pattern (to hide possible stains) for a beautiful, timeless look. – Text by Jo Alcorn

The post Trends 2 Watch: Family Room Design Ideas appeared first on Home Trends Magazine.

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