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.


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

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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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:


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.

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

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In anticipation of our winter hike into Baxter State Park, my sidekick Andy went online to find a backpack to pack in our gear.

After looking high and low for a Made in the USA pack, he stumbled upon one made right here in Maine, down in Biddeford, by a company called Hyperlite.

It’s very light weight and super water proof. He loved hiking in with it and he fit all of his gear into it. Great pockets and straps on the outside added capacity for water bottles, snow shoes, etc.

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pack 1

Baked Beans

In my house growing up, supper most Saturdays was baked beans and red hot dogs on buttery toasted buns.  Best meal ever. b&m

B&M Baked Beans are made in Portland, Maine by the good men and women of the Bakers union (BCTGM), Local 334.

Most Portlanders know of the factory just off Tukey’s bridge. I was lucky enough to get a tour of the plant a few years ago. The workers were friendly and they patiently answered my nonstop enthusiastic questions.

They cook the beans in HUGE pots, and they get mustard and molasses in such bulk you would be amazed.  It’s pretty heavenly.

They also make the brown bread there.  All the fixings for a classic hearty Maine meal.

Paper Plates

Headed to a cookout or camping? Having a big party? The plates you are eating off of may have been made in Maine by union workers.

I always get Chinet paper plates if I am going to use disposable plates. They are chinetmade right in Fairfield, Maine at the Huhtamaki plant.  They are crafted by the good women and men of United Steelworkers (USW) Local 449.

When you’re camping, you can just toss the dirty plates in your campfire after the meal. They are lightweight but super durable.  Love ’em!

Buy Chinet and you are support good jobs right here in central Maine.






My last mattress had been my grandparents’, and when the springs starting sticking out, I used duct tape.  When the springs broke through the duct tape, I decided to take the plunge and buy a mattress- a new one.

This was about four years ago. I heard a radio ad for a mattress company just down the hill from my apartment at the time in Portland, Maine. Can you believe it? Mattresses made in Portland, right on Marginal Way.  Portland Mattress Makers to the rescue.

I swung down, tried some out, and happened to hit up a President’s Day sale. They delivered my new mattress, took away the old one, and I slept happily ever after.

Seriously, I love my bed.  Great investment.

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Running shoes

Many Mainers know that New Balance makes athletic shoes in Maine. It is one of the last big companies making sneakers in the USA.

When I need a new pair, I make a stop into the factory store in Skowhegan to see what they have. There is a factory store in Oxford, ME too.

What many people do not realize is that not all of their sneakers are made in the USA, only some. You have to look at each pair and see. I have seen friends who are very disappointed when the look under the tongue of the shoe only to discover their New Balances were made overseas.

Be sure to look to see if they are made in the USA before you buy, and then lace up and hit the road!

You can buy New Balance footwear in lots of stores, including Lamey Wellehan stores across Maine, a terrific local business.