Santa might be stopping by!


With Christmas less than two weeks away, the gift buying imperative is upon us.  This year I have decided to try to purchase Christmas gifts which are produced by individual American makers.  A great place to find such gifts are the myriad of holiday markets in America. The Germans are also big fans of Christmas markets and have been for more than a few years. The Striezelmarkt pictured above has been held in the northern German city of Dresden since 1434.

Next weekend I plan on attending the Renegade Craft Fair at Magnuson Park’s Hangar 30.  More than 175 local makers will be hawking their wares.  If you attend you can do more than buy handmade gifts; you can participate in hands-on workshops and gorge yourself on tasty treats from local vendors. What’s not to like?

I couldn’t wait for the Renegade Craft Fair, so last weekend I attended the Urban Craft Uprising at Seattle Center.  There were a ton of great gifts on offer from lots of makers from Portland and Seattle.  I plan on doing a load of posts on all the makers I met last weekend, but I wanted to let you know about the two firms I discovered that simply have to be on your gift buying list for this year.

great & small

Great & Small

Great & Small is a firm from Portland, Oregon that makes simply amazing handmade, hand painted, utterly original works of art depicting various members of the animal kingdom.

panda

I got myself a narwhale at the Urban Craft Uprising.

narwhale

These Great & Small guys really have a sense of humor.  Don’t believe me? Well check out their KISS Panda Band series featuring Gene Simmons Panda,

Gene Simmons panda

Paul Stanley Panda,

Paul Standley Panda

and Peter Criss Panda.

Peter Criss Panda

You can almost hear the strains of “Rock and Roll All Nite” just looking at these pandas!   Great & Small will be in attendance at the Crafty Wonderland in Portland, Dec 13-15.

careful it bites

Careful It Bites

If you are looking for really whimsical stuffed animals, look no further than Careful It Bites.  Kelice Penney is the amazing seamstress that sews the delightful collection of Careful It Bites animals in Seattle.  My favorites of Kelice’s creations are her Woolly Yetis,

woolly-yeti-3

her Catballs,

catballs-scene-1

and her hilarious Flasher Bat.

flasher-bat-1

So rather than shopping at the mall this year for gifts made God knows where, with God knows what, by God knows who, buy gifts made by your neighbors in Seattle, Portland or wherever else in this wonderful country you happen to live.  By purchasing gifts made by members of our extended American family, we can put money back into our communities and be able to give unique wonderful presents in the bargain.

Now get shopping!

 

Posted in american made, Children, gifts, Made in America, made in usa, Seattle, Washington State Products | Leave a comment

The Festive Period is officially underway!


If you live in England, the “Festive Period” is generally thought of as the period of time between Christmas and New Years.  But I tend to think of the entire month of December as the Festive Period and my Festive Period got underway last week with the Gray Magazine Holiday party at Design Within Reach, a wonderful furniture firm in Seattle where I live.  By the way, Design Within Reach is currently having a great sale on the iconic Herman Miller Chair; the Herman Miller Chair Company has been making its chairs in Zeeland, Michigan for over a century.  I got invited to the Gray party because I have done a few guest posts on their blog in the past.  Gray put on a delicious spread of nosh and while at the party I met a host of wonderful makers making great stuff for the home: Nick of Urban Hardwoods, Ross of Surface Theory, David of Seattle Stair and Design and Tammy of Savvy Cabinetry by Design.  Over the next few weeks, I will be featuring each of these firms on this blog or on the blog associated with my Homerica website, “Stories of Home“.  And beginning tomorrow, look for a series of posts suggesting great presents for Christmas made by members of our extended American family.

 

Posted in american made, Furniture, Made in America, made in usa, Seattle, Washington State Products, Website | Leave a comment

American brands, delivered to your phone!


 

Bezar-Launch-01 (1)

I’m convinced that curated ecommerce sites are going to be instrumental in helping to sustain and grow American made products, especially products made by smaller makers.  A case in point is BEZAR, the brainchild of Brad Shellhammer.  I can’t even remember how I got signed up for my daily emails from BEZAR, but each day they arrive in my inbox.  BEZAR doesn’t exclusively offer products made by members of our extended American family, but lots of the products on BEZAR are American made.  With BEZAR, you sometimes have to “strike while the iron’s hot” since products do seem to disappear from BEZAR from time to time.  One of BEZAR’s Holiday Gift Collections is titled “Merica” and all the gifts in that collection are made by Americans.  Here are some of my favorite American finds from BEZAR.

Anderson Design Group

Nathan Anderson and his colleagues at Anderson Design Group in Nashville, Tennessee make some of the most beautiful posters, coffee table books and cards I have ever seen.  All their products are printed in Nashville and I am gaga over their National Park posters.  They are simply stunning.  My three favorite Anderson Design Group National Park posters are Arches,

ASA_ArchesNP2_popup

Bryce Canyon,

ASA_Bryce_QueensGarden_popup (1)

and Bad Lands.

ASA-NP-Badlands_popup

Broderpress

Broderpress is the brainchild of artist and printmaker Shannon Broder. Since 2009, Shannon has been making amazing animal pillows.  Shannon starts by hand silkscreening her animal designs onto American sourced fabric using water based non-toxic ink.  Shannon does all the work to create her wonderful animal pillows in Brooklyn, NY!  My three favorite Broderpress pillows are the Elephant,

broderpress-elephant-pillow-square

the Manatee,

broderpress-manatee-pillow-1

and the Zebra.

broderpress-zebra-pillow-1

I am buying my Christmas tree this week, and plan on ordering several of Shannon’s amazing ornaments for the tree!

bunny-2

moose-2

octopus-2

Gneiss Spice

If you want your spices at hand when whipping up your favorite recipe, Gneiss Spice is for you.  Since 2013 Beth and two of her comrades have been making the coolest spice jars you can imagine.  The spice jars have magnetic lids so you can keep them out on the front of your refrigerator.  While the lids and racks are made in Maine, Beth has not been able to find an American glass manufacturer for the jars themselves.  But she is working on finding a domestic manufacturer in the near future.  Gneiss Spice produces several themed spice collections for those that cook predominately one type of cuisine.  Are you partial to Phad Thai?  Then the Gneiss Thai Spice kit is for you.

Thai spices

Do you live to barbecue?  Then the Grilling Seasoning Kit is for you.

grilling spices

I already have my spices, so I plan on purchasing a DIY kit.

DIY spice kit

I am so thankful that I found out about BEZAR and the many American brands that are featured on the site.  I urge you to sign up for the BEZAR daily emails so you can always be seeing new American products that you can purchase for your self and as gifts for your friends and family in this festive period.

Now get shopping!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in american made, gifts, Made in America, made in usa, shopping, Website | Leave a comment

Way to go Nike!


10185848

I was in need of some new cotton crew socks, so I dropped into my local Fred Meyer and beelined it to the sock section.  Imagine my glee at finding a nice package of very reasonably priced Nike Crew socks like those pictured above that are made by members of our extended American family.  The socks are incredibly soft and very warm even though they are made mostly out of cotton.

So if you are looking for crew socks for yourself or for Christmas stocking stuffers for Grandfather Ned or anyone else in the family, make sure to pick up some great American made Nike socks!

Posted in american made, Apparel, Made in America, made in usa, socks | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Ten! Hut!


I recently came across an amazing American firm that I felt compelled to tell you about.  Sword & Plough is the brain child of two American sisters, Betsy and Emily.  Born into a military family, Betsy and Emily grew up at West Point.  Emily attended Middlebury College, where she was the only ROTC cadet on a campus of 2,450; Emily’s ROTC meetings were notoriously short.  After her sophomore year at college, Emily attended the U.S. Army Airborne School and eventually served as an officer in the U.S. Army.

During her time in the Army, Emily began to become aware of the plight of U.S. military personnel upon entering the civilian job market after they had left military service.  An idea began to form in Emily’s mind, in between figuring out the proper placement of anti-personnel mines and the ins and outs of driving a tank.  What if my sis and I could create a business that would provide middle class jobs for our comrades leaving the service who would create great stylish bags using military surplus fabric?  Unlike so many of us who have great ideas but lack the initiative to bring our dreams to fruition, Emily and Betsy actually created a viable business that is providing great jobs for some of our veterans.

The ladies launched Sword & Plough in 2013, but given their service to our country, let’s just say early business meetings were a bit of a challenge.  According to the Sword & Plough website, “When Emily deployed to Afghanistan in 2013, Sword & Plough had just launched on Kickstarter. We built our business even while our CEO was deployed in a war zone – often cutting our Skype conference calls short due to incoming mortar fire or other military emergencies. The founding team was separated by eight time zones, so conference calls always happened during odd hours of the day (and night).”

Sword & Plough is all about providing gainful employment for their brothers and sisters in arms.  According to Emily and Betsy, “By incorporating veterans into every stage of the business (as designers, managers, sewers, quality control experts and even models), the company could empower veteran employment. And through its branding and outreach, Sword & Plough could help bridge the civil-military divide. The bags could be used as conversation pieces and the company could become a platform to bring public awareness to veteran issues.”

Well Emily and Betsy’s mission seems to be working.  I urge you to check out the Sword & Plough website to snag a great bag, see all the recognition the firm is getting and learn about all the good they are doing. I never cease to be amazed at the hard work Americans like Emily and Betsy will exert to build a business that makes great products, but also creates great jobs for members of our extended American family.  If I had been in the military, I would end this post with some typical military phrase.  But sadly I wasn’t, so I will end with the only military phrase I know which I got from watching MASH: That is all!

Posted in american made, Luggage, Made in America, made in usa | Tagged , | 1 Comment

American Field!


I haven’t posted in quite a while, but it wasn’t laziness on my part I assure you.  Rather, I have been working like a strap on my new website Homerica.  Homerica is your one stop for everything you need for your American home; it will truly be an American home since every product featured on Homerica is made by members of our extended American family.  I have also been blogging on Homerica’s blog, Stories of Home, so I urge you to start following that blog as well as this one!

I recently became aware of an interesting bunch that is promoting American brands at four pop up markets over the next few months.  American Field is holding events in Boston (September 12-13th), Washington D.C. (October 17-18th), Atlanta (October 31-November 1st) and Brooklyn (November 21-22nd).  If you are an American maker, you can become an American Field vendor; the pricing for the events is very reasonable.  $750 for a basic booth, $1,500 for a premium double booth.  If you are an American crafted product aficionado, you can show up to (1) buy great American products, (2) visit with other American kindred souls, (3) talk to a slew of great American makers and (4) eat and drink with said American kindred souls and American makers.  And the price of admission is …….nada.  Just show up and engage in the four activities set forth above.

American Field was started by Mark Bollman, the owner of Ball and Buck.  Ball and Buck is based in Boston and makes lots of clothing for American fellas.  American Field plays a critical role, in my opinion, in allowing ordinary Americans to meet American makers and allowing American makers a inexpensive outlet for selling their wares and connecting with American consumers.  Last year, 7500 people attended American Field’s two pop up markets.  This year more than 120 American brands have joined American Field and the numbers are on the rise.  God only knows how many people will attend this year’s four American Field markets, but given the fact that American Field has been getting a lot of press recently, the numbers will probably be huge.

So I urge you to attend one of American Field’s four pop up markets this year, meet the makers, eat a lot and support the members of our extended American family by purchasing the products they craft.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Four sales you shouldn’t miss!


I buy American made products almost exclusively, but that doesn’t mean I ignore sales of American made products.  I like a bargain as much as the next fella.  The time around the 4th of July often provides a target rich environment for sales of products made by members of our extended American family.  So here goes.

Bills Khakis

I have bought a lot of clothes from Bills Khakis over the last three years and I have not once been disappointed by the style, quality and value they offer.  So I was delighted to get a notice on my email that Bills Khakis’ Summer Sale was getting under way.  The Summer Sale includes lots of great offerings.  I plan on replacing the last polo shirts I have in my closet that were probably sewn by children in Bangladesh with a couple of real beauties offered on the Summer Sale that I know were sewn by adults in Pennsylvania.

Ernest Alexander

Ernest Alexander makes very cool luggage and bags in New York.  Right now you can get 30% off selected Ernest Alexander products, including this amazingly cool Hudson British Tan Wax Twill Messenger Bag.

Okabashi

Ok, you really can’t dilly dally if you want to save 35% on selected American made Okabashi sandals.  The sale ends on 6/30/15 at midnight PST.  If you want to see a great feature on Okabashi, click this link.  My favorite Okabashis are the Classic Flip Flops; they are definitely old school.

Classic Flip Flops

REI

My REI refund voucher has been burning a hole in my wallet, so I plan to blow the whole thing on American made camping stuff at REI’s 4th of July Sale.  Now finding American made stuff to buy from the 7921 items on offer at the REI sale is fairly easy to do.  Just look on the left hand side of the page for the features tab, click the “Made in USA” box and you will be presented with 650 American products on sale to choose from.  Which is less than 10% of the sales items which is sort of depressing, but I am not going to let that slow me down.  I have my eye on two Platypus 3 Liter Big Zip LP Reservoirs, made right here in my home town of Seattle.

Ben and I drink a lot of water when we visit amazing lakes in Washington State such as Colchuck Lake which we hiked to last week.

American goods are a great value at any time of the year, but when they are on sale I often really go to town.  I urge you to do the same.  You will get a great deal and your purchases will ensure continued employment for members of our extended American family that product the greatest products in the world.

Now get shopping!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

If I were in the market


I am currently leasing a 2014 Honda Civic, which was assembled at one of Honda’s American plants and has a good deal of American built content.  But if you are in need of a new ride and want to buy an “uber” American car, the car for you may be the one pictured above, the Buick Enclave.  According to the 2015 Kogod Made in America Auto Index, the Buick Enclave boasts 87.5% domestic content.  Buick seems to be the bell cow when it comes to the highest amount of domestic content.  If you are in the market for a new car and want to buy one with the maximum amount of content produced by members of our extended American family, the 2015 Kogod Made in America Auto Index is required reading.

Now get shopping!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Stepping up to the table


I like to eat.  You name it, Italian, Chinese, Mexican, I love a good meal.  But I wanted to ensure that the forks and knives I use to eat my meals were made by Americans.  Imagine my shock when I discovered that only one company is still making flatware here at home. But what a company!  Sherrill Manufacturing located in Sherrill, NY makes some absolutely beautiful flatware patterns under the Liberty Tabletop brand.  My favorite Liberty Tabletop pattern is the Pinehurst.

35 members of our extended American family are working at Liberty Tabletop making great flatware.  The steel for Liberty’s flatware is made in this country as are most of the products Liberty uses to turn its raw American steel into the most beautiful forks, knives and spoons you can buy.  Alice and Matt Roberts were nice enough to send along a short piece on Liberty that recently appeared on TV in New York.  I urge you to watch it and learn about Liberty, their commitment to making their products in New York and the amazing products Liberty is making that you can buy from their website.  I am absolutely certain that once my Pinehurst order arrives, all the food I eat with it will taste better.  And given my cooking prowess, I need all the help I can get!

Posted in Kitchen, Made in America, made in usa | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’ve got a few things on my plate


I am pretty swamped these days.  In addition to my real job, my Simply American job has been growing.  I am finally finishing my book, Simply American, Putting Our Extended American Family Back To Work.  I am putting the finishing touches on my new website, Homerica, designed to let people remodel, build and furnish their homes with American made products.  And I am starting to work on developing a service to allow American firms to tell their American stories.  Whew!  So sorry for the radio silence on the blog for the last three weeks.  But there are a number of Made in America issues in the news recently that I wanted to let you know about.

A reasonable question

I have written about the problems about our cheap apparel made abroad a few times over the last few years.  Well I am not alone in questioning this practice.  I read a great article in the Baltimore Sun last week written by Dan Rodricks.  The title of the piece was “For Under Armour, why not ‘UA Made in the USA’?”  I urge you to read it.

A must see John Oliver episode

On the same subject, this last Sunday, John Oliver delivered a great segment on the high cost to others of the low cost apparel sold in this country by H&M, the Gap, and the other wealthy rag merchants.  If you don’t feel shitty buying cheap apparel made in Bangladesh or somewhere similar after watching Oliver’s piece, you need to take your soul in for a checkup.

But its not all bad news!

On the plus side, there have been a lot of great stories in the news about new products being made by members of our extended family.  A great new firm for American made furniture, Greycork, was recently featured in Forbes.  Just yesterday I was contacted by a company, Red Chapter Clothing Conmpany, whose clothing is sewn by members of our extended American family, as opposed to 12 year old girls in Bangladesh.  An article in the Times Free Press heralded that retailer for home products are clamoring for U.S. products because their customers are demanding them.  The article features products by four companies that are featured on my soon to be live Homerica website:  Blendtec, 360 CookwareVitamix and Microplane.  Finally, if you want to sleep soundly knowing you are supporting American workers, buy a mattress equipped with Leggett & Platt innersprings.  The company’s mattresses innersprings are certified Made in the USA!

So if you are in the market for virtually any product you need, there are American options for you to consider.  I urge you do not only consider American products, but make them your default choice as I have for the last four years.  Now get shopping!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 3 Comments