Winter coat

I am a lucky girl and my mom got me a new warm coat for my birthday last month. I needed something warm and sturdy to wear carrying in firewood and such chores that other coats can’t handle.

Carhartt makes a few of their coats in the USA, union made by UFCW (my very union!)

http://www.carhartt.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10101&storeId=10051&productId=32132&langId=-1

I picked light brown but they have black, blue, etc. This one is lined and has a hood, it’s very warm. It is men’s sizes only on this coat, but the small fits great with room for layers underneath. The waist and arm cuffs are tight and cozy.

Luckily this arrived in the mail the day before a blizzard, during the Get Out the Vote effort on the election, so the timing was perfect. So I can say I have tested it and the flannel lining is amazing and warm.

Thanks, mom!

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Slippers

Fall is pretty much here, the floor is getting cold. We haven’t started the woodstove yet but my feet are ready for something more.

Everyone needs a good pair of slippers. A few years ago I was looking for a pair and had a hard time finding any made in Maine that I could afford. Plenty of companies sell moccasins with Maine place names to make you think they are made in Maine, but they are not. A few are actually made in Maine but were out of my price range.

Luckily my friend Gus found me a source at a fair made right in Ellsworth. Anne and Bob Dickens are the small company ‘Leatherworkers.’ They asked me to outline my foot on paper and mail it to them, and they sent me custom made slippers that are ridiculously cozy.

They are not tightly form fitting, but the inside is soft and fluffy and will keep your feet warm and toasty all winter long. They have held up great.

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My pair are a little dirty but I spill things often.

I don’t remember the exact price but they were very affordable.

Bob and Anne Dickens, Leatherworkers: (207) 667-7925

Tires

Buying union made in the USA tires is simple but a little time consuming. Tires are a big purchase so it’s great to make sure I’m investing in good union jobs.

United Steel Workers (USW) represents the workers at a number of tire plants in the US.  As with many items, it’s all about tracing the tires to which plant they were actually made at.

I take my car to Don Foshay’s in Hallowell, and Chris there was fantastic at helping me find union made tires– thank you Chris!

I went online and printed off this list off this list from USW. What’s great is that each tire has a DOT number, and that number includes letters that signify exactly where they were made.

I faxed this to Chris at Don Foshay’s, Chris faxed it to his warehouse, made a couple of calls, found the tires that fit my Ford Focus, and ordered them.  They were on my car within a couple days.

I got B.F. Goodrich tires and they are great. What a difference a good pair of tires makes.

Camping gear: FOOD

This past weekend Andy and I and two friends hiked into Russell Pond in Baxter State Park. It’s 7+ miles in, and so every ounce on the back counts. No fancy meals.

We picked up the Good to Go dehydrated camping meals we saw by chance at Eastern Mountain Sports and decided to try them.

Made right in Maine (Kittery) these are designed for camping. You just add boiling water. The ingredients list is not scary- it’s all real food. Right now they make three entrees to choose from. (They are all vegetarian)

We loved these meals and they were super easy and light. They were yummy and made a bunch of food- two generous servings per packet.

Smoked Three Bean Chili was very tasty and satisfying.  We actually hiked in some pre-cooked chicken sausage to throw in with it ince we had this on our first night and we could splurge on one meal with perishable food.

Herbed Mushroom Risotto was also delicious. We added pepper, and also recommend 2 cups of boiling water instead of the 2.5 cups listed on the directions.

The best of the three was the Thai Curry– spicy and so delicious.  Loaded with veggies and flavor and coconut milk.

I am definitely going to eat these again and recommend them widely! Great to see a Maine company getting into this market and improving it.

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Camping gear: sleeping mats and pillows

I have been investing in good camping gear over the past few years, since camping is one of my favorite activities.

My sleeping mat is made by Therm-a-Rest and was made in the USA. Mine is a few years old, but I believe many are still made in the USA while some of their products are made in Ireland.

I also invested in Therm-a-Rest pillows that are made in the USA. These fold down into small sacks but poof out to make decent pillows. These two items do the trick for backpacking but also getting a good night’s sleep.

I got both my mat and the pillow from the wonderful folks at Epic Sports in Bangor, my favorite outdoor gear story. Brad Ryder and his crew at Epic Sports are knowledgeable and helpful and they have a huge selection of outdoor gear for all sports and activities.

Andy’s sleeping mat had a hole in it, so he was looking for one a few months ago when we stopped at Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS) in Portland.   It turns out EMS makes their own brand of sleeping mats that are made in the USA. It’s the “Siesta” sleeping pad.  He is a handful of camping trips in with it so far and he likes it. http://www.ems.com/product/index.jsp?productId=29113206

Made in the USA sleeping mats and pillows for this camping crew

Made in the USA sleeping mats and pillows for this camping crew

 

 

STUMPED: Kid’s Shoes

I was excited to co-blog with my friend Colin.  Colin is 5, he lives in Greene, Maine and wanted summer shoes like crocs.  Colin’s mom and dad would like to Buy USA made, but “crocs” are not.

So Colin and I hatched a plan that I would find cool summer shoes for kids that are made in the USA, he would try them, and we would blog about it together.

Bad news. I cannot for the life of me find a pair of USA made or even Canada made kid’s summer shoes.  I have spent a while looking online, calling companies, and all number of things but with no luck.

Dear internet, help! Can anyone point me to a ethically made kid’s summer shoe for Colin? 

Colin

Colin, Age 5, looking for ethically made summer shoes

 

 

Paddles

A couple years ago I bought a used Old Town canoe, and then needed paddles of course.  I knew just where to go.

Shaw and Tenney has been making canoe paddles in Maine since 1858. Their shop is in Orono, just down the street from where I lived for 3 years, on the banks of the Penobscot River. They make beautiful paddles.

I went right to the store in person and bought paddles that were seconds, that had some tiny flaw and therefore were discounted in price. The paddles are not cheap but you are getting a handcrafted product that will last a lifetime.  My friend Sam makes them himself, in fact.

Here we are putting the Shaw and Tenney paddles to use at Little Falls on the St. Croix River last summer:

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Energy Drink

While I am not a regular energy drink consumer, I know a lot of people are (ahem Joel).

My friends Gus and Morgan picked up Maine made energy drinks on the road the other day (at the fabulous Cobbossee Beverage Shop in Farmingdale) and I had a sip of it- it was really good! And the ingredients are not scary-  clearly a plus.

Black Bear Energy makes these B12 drinks right here in Maine (Bethel, from what I can tell online, although all they usually say is “The Mountains of Maine.”)

They sell them in over 400 locations including Shaws and Whole Foods.  Look for them next time you need a boost.

http://www.blackbearb12.com/

Tasty, all natural, Maine made, and energizing. I’ll be trying this again for sure.

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Hats

Last summer I knew I needed a good hat. My friend Nicola had been styling broad rimmed hat the summer before on a kayaking day on Moosehead Lake, and I was inspired by her to wear one as well.

I bought this great hat! Here I am wearing it at Bigney Cove on Moosehead Lake.

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http://www.villagehatshop.com/product/western-hats/263928-32/henschel-aussie-mesh-crushable-hat.html

It’s made by Henschel hats, and it’s called the Aussie Mesh Crushable Hat. This is a good hat for me because I tend to crush things.

I bought it from a hat website called Village Hat Shop, which sells many brands. From what I can tell all the Henschel Hats of which there are many, are made in the USA.

I wore it all the time last summer.  A double header — less sunburn AND made in the USA. You can’t go wrong.