Lots of lists and other things

It’s getting down to the wire in terms of Christmas shopping, so I wanted to alert you to some of the “Made in America” shopping lists I have happened upon over the last few weeks.

ABC News

Consumer Reports

Made in USA Forever

Made in USA Challenge

Room & Board

Indy Plush American Made Stuffed Animals

Most stuffed animals are made either in the Middle Kingdom or in some other dingy foreign locale.  Not so the stuffed animals made by Indy Plush.  Indy Plush is the creation of the Franceil Masi, who makes her whimsical animals in the city of my birth, Los Angeles.  I can’t really say which is my favorite Indy Plush stuffed animal since I love them all, but my top three are the Indy Plush Elephant,

the Indy Plush Javan Rhino,

and the Indy Plush Spiny.

The Best Dog Ever

I did a post on our dog Buddy almost three years ago.  Buddy was a simply amazingly loving, gentle and sweet Lab.  I am very sad to report that we had to put Buddy down last night because he had gotten to the point where he could barely walk and had trouble standing up on his own.  For those of you who have owned dogs and that is probably most of us, saying goodbye to your loyal friend is amazingly sad.  I miss Buddy very much this morning and will continue to grieve for him over the coming days.  Any prayers you could send our and Buddy’s way would be greatly appreciated.


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Sheep and the wool they produce have been front and center with me over the last few weeks.  Two weeks ago I went to Oregon and visited two firms that are rather wool-centric. Dehen makes the most amazing sweaters and jackets out of wool fabric that they knit themselves.

And Pendleton makes wool blankets in Oregon that are truly legendary.

So I was happy to come upon an Oregon company which has formed the foundation of the wool trade in Oregon for generations: Imperial Stock Ranch.

Imperial Stock Ranch is located in Shaniko, Oregon and has been raising sheep for more than a hundred and forty years.  Shaniko is on the east side of the Cascade Mountains and is located near the Warm Springs Reservation.  That part of Oregon is semi-arid.  Not great for growing tomatoes, but great for raising sheep. Founded in 1871 by Richard Hinton, the Imperial Stock Ranch is now owned by Dan and Jeanne Carver.  Many of the ranch structures that Richard Hinton and his family built still are being used by the Carver family today.

Hinton, through years of hard work, eventually introduced an entirely new breed of sheep that are the perfect sheep for the terrain around Shaniko:  the Columbia Sheep.  But being a fairly enterprising fellow, Hinton didn’t limit himself to breeding sheep.  He also raised cattle and grew the grain and hay to feed his woolly and bovine charges through the harsh winters Shaniko routinely dishes out.  To this day, Imperial Stock Ranch still sells fine grade wool, Imperial Yarn, high quality beef and outstanding lamb.  I urge you to visit the Imperial Stock Ranch website; it is beautifully designed and executed and contains a lot of fascinating information.

The Carvers seem to be a lot like the Hintons: not content to just raise sheep and cows and produce wool and yarn, they were looking for a new challenge.  So they decided they wanted to produce stunning apparel that utilized their sheep’s wool.  So they partnered with Anna Cohen who had been working with them for several years.  Together the Carvers and Ms. Cohen produced the Imperial Collection.  It’s a match made in heaven!  The Carvers provide the Imperial Yarn, Ms. Cohen designs the clothes and members of our extended American family produce the apparel in the Imperial Collection. What could be better?  And man, are the pieces in the Imperial Collection beautiful!


With Christmas less than three weeks away, now is a great time to order some items from the Imperial Collection for your wife, daughter, mother, grandmother or any woman in your life who appreciates beautifully designed and created wool apparel.  Giving an item from the Imperial Collection is a wining proposition all round.  Your gift will support Americans who work on the Imperial Stock Ranch and who crafted the Imperial Collection.  You will have the pleasure of knowing that your Imperial Collection sweater is a stylish and quality gift.  And the gift’s recipient will be very happy to have received a beautiful addition to her wardrobe that she can wear proudly for many years to come. When your Imperial Collection sweater is opened on Christmas morning, expect lots of oohs and aahs.  And if you listen very carefully, you might be able to hear a few baaaaaas from the sheep on the Imperial Stock Ranch who provided the wool for that beautiful sweater.

So get shopping!



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Cyber Monday Alert!

The intrepid Sarah Mazzone of the USA Challenge just posted a nice Cyber Monday list that I urge you to peruse if you still have any money left after buying all the stuff I suggested on my Simply American Black Friday Alert.  I bought a bunch of stuff on sale on Friday.  For starters, I got two pairs of Hardwick wool slacks for the price of one.


You can get in on this 50% off deal by visiting the Harwick website and making your purchases before COB on Tuesday.  I also went to a local shoe store and got a great pair of New Balance 990s for $109.00.


After checking out the firms on Sarah’s Cyber Monday List, a few seemed very intriguing to me.

Bebe Bella Designs

I have no young ones running about, but if you do, you need to know about Bebe Bella Designs.  So much stuff for kiddos is made overseas, but not so with Bebe Bella Designs. They make all sorts of stuff that the young ones require: blankets, bibs, burpies, booties, mittens, hats and scarves.  And right now they have some screaming deals.  How about a Minky Chenille Satin Backed Baby Blanket, normally $52.00 on sale for only $13.00!

Minky Chenille Satin Backed Baby Blanket

Or a knit beenie for $3.60!

Knit Beenie

You get the picture.

M.I.U.S. Collection

If you want awesome women’s clothing made by members of our extended American family and you want it for 30% off, you need to get to work.  M.I.U.S.’ entire USA made inventory is 30% off until this Tuesday December 2nd.  Go to the M.I.U.S. website and use the code holiday14.  The M.I.U.S. Collection is the brainchild of Millie Karkof.

Topo Designs

This firm doesn’t have a Cyber Monday sale, but that’s ok because they have what I want. It has been rather cold in Seattle the last few days and I want a fleece coat but I don’t want one made in China, Bangladesh or Pakistan.   So I plan on ordering Topo Designs’ Fleece Jacket.  It is made in Colorado and looks pretty cool.  What color should I order?


Fleece Jacket


Fleece Jacket

Or Olive?

Fleece Jacket

I’m thinking Olive.

So as you begin to start purchasing your holiday gifts, I urge you to consider gifts made by members of your extended American family as your first choice.  Buying American made gifts for the holidays is truly a treble.  First, you have the pride of giving a well made product.  Second, the recipient will get a well made product that will give them years of use.  And third, members of our extended American family will be given the gift of employment so they can provide for their families.  Such a deal!

Now get shopping!

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Say it ain’t so!


As I digested my Thanksgiving dinner and watched the Seattle Seahawks demolish the 49ers on Thursday evening, I started seeing the first of the Black Friday ads.  I can’t remember what store was offering them for sale on Friday, but I do remember Element flat screen televisions exploding out of giant Christmas crackers.  I did a post on Element two years ago and at the time was really happy to see American televisions being built in Detroit.  But recently I heard some disturbing news about Element that I thought I needed to share with you.

It was reported by Businessweek a couple of weeks ago that the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking the FTC to take “prompt action against Element Electronics Corp. to enjoin the false,
deceptive, and misleading statements Element makes in its nationwide television advertising and marketing campaign.”  The AAM is cheesed off that Element claims in its advertising that its televisions are assembled in the U.S.  According to the AAM, Element’s assembly consists of American employees removing the televisions from boxes shipped from China, checking the screens for scratches and using pneumatic screwdrivers to open the back of each television and insert a memory board. Workers also do some mechanical testing on the televisions, which are then repackaged and sold at stores such as Wal-Mart and Target.

As pointed out in the AAM petition, the FTC has a “Made in USA Standard.”  That standard states:

A product that includes foreign components may be called “Assembled in USA”
without qualification when its principal assembly takes place in the U.S. and the
assembly is substantial. For the “assembly” claim to be valid, the product’s last
“substantial transformation” also should have occurred in the U.S. That’s why
`screwdriver’ assembly in the U.S. of foreign components into a final product at
the end of the manufacturing process doesn’t usually qualify for the “Assembled
in USA” claim.

I will keep you posted on what action is taken with the AAM’s petition.


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Simply American Black Friday Alert!

I would sooner have a root canal without anesthetic than plan a huge shopping trip to the mall on the day after Thanksgiving.  Today I am planning a series of naps and setting aside plenty of time to savor our Seattle Seahawks embarrassment of the 49ers yesterday at the 49ers home.  If you want to wrestle with crowds of crazed shoppers like those pictured above, be my guest.  Instead, I suggest you do your Black Friday shopping from the comfort of your home.  And if you want to make sure that your holiday purchases benefit not only your immediate family members but also members of our extended American family, I would urge you to visit one or more of the firms on my Simply American Black Friday Alert list.  Now let’s get started!

Bills Khakis

This sale has the quickest expiration date; midnight EST today.  So don’t dilly dally.  But it’s a great sale.  25% off and free shipping.  I have tons of Bills Khakis clothing: khakis, shorts, and shirts.  You should too.  I have my eye on a Palmer Polo.



ManPan makes simply amazing cook and bakeware in Spokane, Washington.  ManPan is currently running a deal that if you buy $100 in ManPan products, you get $25 in credit to buy more ManPan stuff.  The deal runs through December 15, 2014.  I have my eye on the ManPan two piece frypan set.  For only $145, you get a 10 inch and a 12 inch ManPan frypan.

ManPan frypans have curved side walls that make flipping chicken breasts a snap. ManPan pans have a very cool Cool Grip Handle and are made of Hard Anodized .080 Aluminum.  ManPans are PTFE Free and have a Water-Based Release Coating called Gem-X2.  What that means is they cook like non-stick pans, but because they are made from aluminum, you can use metal utensils.  It also means you can put your ManPan frypans in the oven up to 700 Degrees Fahrenheit.  Oh, that’s hot!

Brooks Brothers

Brooks Brothers makes a lot of great clothes in the U.S., and some of those great clothes are now on sale.  If you are in the market for some new suits for the New Year, I recommend now is a good time to get some real savings on Brooks Brothers amazing suits.  Right now, you can get two suits for $1699.00 that normally would cost you $2600.00.  How about a Milano Fit Saxxon Wool Grey with Blue Stripe 1818 Suit?

Or a Madison Fit Saxxon Nails Head 1818 Suit?

If you are set for suits, I would suggest getting in on the deal Brooks Brothers is currently running on their Traditional Fit Button-Down Collar Dress Shirts.  Three for $229, normal price of $285.  These are the only shirts I wear anymore and they are amazing.  The cotton in the shirts is incredibly soft and they just need to be pulled from the dryer and given a quick iron of the collar and you are good to go.  That is lucky because there are amoeba on Saturn that can iron a shirt better than I can.  I have three of these shirts that I have been wearing for almost three years and the cuffs still are completely presentable after I don’t know how many washings and dryings.

Allen Edmonds

If you don’t know Allen Edmonds, now is the time.  Allen Edmonds makes amazing leather shoes and belts.  I have two pairs of their shoes and one of their belts.  And just yesterday I bought two of their belts because they were featured on Allen Edmonds’ Black Friday Sale which runs until December 1st.  Yesterday I got a Black Dupyer Spring,


and a Brown Yellowstone Casual Belt.

Allen Edmonds Yellowstone Casual Belt 79910 Black Print Leather

I also have my eye on a pair of Brown Badlands Comfort Shoes, which retail for $295, but are on sale for $199.  Given the wet weather we have in Seattle, the rubber Vibram sole is a strong selling point.

Allen Edmonds Badlands Comfort Shoes 1005 Brown Leather

If you or someone on your gift list needs American made shoes or belts, you need look no further than Allen Edmonds.

New Balance

New Balance’s Black Friday deals expire on Sunday, so don’t waste any time on making choices.  On New Balance’s website, enter the phrase “USA Collection” and you will be delivered to all their products made by members of our extended American family.  And you can buy them for 15% off and have them shipped to you for nothing!  Such a deal!  I am need of a new pair of New Balance shoes and have decided to design them myself.  If you didn’t know, you can design your own New Balance Model 574, 993 or 990.  I am designing a pair of 993s.  Here are a few examples of custom 993s other people have made.



I bet you could make an even cooler pair!


I haven’t done a post on Homage yet, but I should have done.  Homage makes amazing T-shirts and other things in Ohio.  Obviously, they have a real connection to THE Ohio State University.

Let's Go Bucks Long Sleeve Tee

But they do licensed apparel for a wide range of other Universities including my Dad’s alma mater Columbia.

Columbia University Crewneck

Until Sunday, all fleece such as the Columbia sweat shirt above are $50 while all t-shirts are $22.  Plus, if you order more than $75 in gear, you get a free Homage “Black Pack.”





Okabashi, the American flip-flop company with the Japanese name, is having a great 25% off plus free shipping offer this weekend.  I have two pairs of Okabashis, the Glides


and the Classics.

Classic Flip Flops

Order some Okabashis for everyone on your gift list, and then watch this great video on Okabashi made by the great folks at This Built America.

Criquet Shirts

Criquet is a cool apparel company that hails from the Lone Star State and also makes its shirts in Texas.  They have a sliding Black Friday discount depending on how much lolly you spend.  Spend $100 and you get 15% off your order.  Spend $300 and you get $30% off your order.  You get the picture.  I have not yet bought a Criquet shirt, but I have my eye on the American Made Classic Pique Polo in Peacoat.

Karen Kane

Karen Kane has been making wonderful women’s wear in the place of my birth, Los Angeles, for many years.  Lots of styles are 25% off if you enter the promo code BLACKFRIDAY at check out.  How about this Orange Floral Print Tank for only $19.50?

Orange Floral Print Tank

Less than $20 on sale and made by members of our extended American family in California.  What’s not to like?

Jack Donnelly Khakis

Last, but certainly not least, is the offer from Jack Donnelly Khakis.  I am featuring Jack Donnelly Khakis in my soon to be published book, Simply American, Putting Our Extended American Family Back To Work.  Jack Donnelly Khakis are available in several colors and they wear very well.  I own three pairs and am thinking about buying a few more pairs during the sale.  You can 35% off your entire order by entering the code USA35 at checkout.  I have my eyes on a pair of Dalton British Khakis.  What do you think?

Dalton Pant - British Khaki

Don’t worry, I will wear socks with mine!

So now that you know that you can buy great gifts for your friends and family that are made by members of your extended American family, I urge you to do so.  Together, we can help rebuild the Middle Class in this Country simply by buying products made by Americans who ask only for an opportunity to work and support their families.  Pretty simple isn’t it?

Now get shopping!!!


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The Other Holy Trinity

No, I am not talking about the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.  Not that I have any problem with the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.  I am a Catholic after all.  No, the Holy Trinity I am talking about involves Christmas trees, NFL Football, and Made in America.

The Germans kicked off the Christmas tree tradition in the 16th century when devout Christians brought decorated trees into their homes.  Martin Luther pitched in on the Christmas tree effort by adding lighted candles to trees.  According to those Protestants in the know, Luther was walking home one winter evening, composing a sermon, when he looked up and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the stars twinkling amidst evergreens. He set up a tree at home and wired candles to the tree’s branches.  Some German families still use candles, lighting them only on Christmas Eve.

When Germans immigrated to America in the 19th century, they brought their Christmas trees with them.  There was some initial grumbling about German pagan symbols, but that soon dissipated. By the 1890s, intrepid German businessmen were exporting Christmas ornaments to America where they were being placed on Christmas trees that reached from floor to ceiling.

At about the same time as the German Christmas ornaments began reaching our shores, Americans started playing football.  In the 1880s, a rugby player from Yale, Walter Camp, proposed rules changes that transformed rugby into the new game of American Football.
The American Professional was formed on September 17, 1920 and two years later became the National Football League.  The first official NFL championship game was held in 1933.  The rival American Football League was founded in 1960. It was very successful, and forced a merger with the older NFL that resulted in a greatly expanded league and the creation of the Super Bowl, which our Seattle Seahawks won last year, waxing the Denver Broncos 43-8.  The lopsided score brought to mind an old joke that circulated about the Broncos circa 1987-90.  In those four seasons, the Broncos lost three Superbowls by scores of 39-20 (Giants), 42-10 (Redskins) and 55-10 (Niners).  Hence the joke:  How many Broncos does it take to fix a flat tire?  One, unless it’s a blowout then the whole team shows up.

I recently discovered an American firm that can allow you to combine the two great American passions of Christmas trees and NFL football.  Wendell August Forge produces a full line of metal NFL team ornaments that will make your tree the talk of the neighborhood.

I of course will be opting for the Seahawks ornament.

Wendell August Forge was founded in 1923 by Wendell McMinn August and is America’s oldest and largest forge, producing hand-wrought ornamental metalware and a variety of great objects in aluminum and other metals.  Starting with the production of hand-forged door latches, Wendell and Ottone “Tony” Pisoni soon started producing decorative ironware products such as fireplace andirons, candlesticks, lighting standards, door knockers, latches, railings, and grilles for windows and doors.

In the 1930s, Pisoni mastered the art of forging aluminum and after finishing a stunning architectural remodeling at the Grove City National Bank, the Bank’s president convinced Wendell August to relocate his firm to Grove City, Pennsylvania.  Wendell August’s Grove City forge is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.  Wendell August currently produces a very wide range of jewelry, collector’s plates and commemoratives, Christmas ornaments and gifts, trays, bowls, and vases.  Each piece is still individually made by hand using Wendall August’s original eight-step process.  Wendell August pieces are available in aluminum, bronze, pewter, sterling silver, and other metals.

I want to get my hands on one of the 12 solid bronze plates commemorating the SALT II treaty between the U.S. and Russia that the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency commissioned Wendell August to produce.  Unlikely I admit, but a man has got to have goals.

What with it being just a week before Thanksgiving, now is a perfect time for you to visit the Wendell August website.  Order your favorite NFL team’s Christmas tree ornament, and then get all of your holiday shopping done in one fell swoop.  Uncle Morty in Pittsburg?  Done.


Aunt Bess in Chi Town?  Done

Your Mum in Cleveland?  Done.

Don’t thank me, I am just glad I can help you get your Christmas shopping done before December even darkens our doorway and at the same time allow you to provide jobs for members of our extended American family who are working at Wendell August.


Now get shopping!

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Which coast is this again?


My dad, Richard Briggs, grew up on the east coast.  Living in New York City, he took most of his beach vacations in Massachusetts.  Sadly, we didn’t get to take an East Coast beach vacation together before he suddenly passed away in 2001.  It would have been a hoot I am sure.

Every time I visit Seabrook on the Washington Coast, I think of my dad because Seabrook is a place that evokes in me thoughts of what I imagine beach communities on the East Coast look like.  Lots of tidy and cute beach houses.

Parks with fire pits and bocce ball courts.  A community swimming pool that has the good sense to be indoors so it can be used all year-long.

A very cute dinner serving up amazingly yummy food.

After the first day of our first visit to Seabrook about six years ago, I was sold.  We have returned to Seabrook for several vacations.

We most recently visited this last summer, and I came away with another reason to love Seabrook.  Seabrook seems to use a lot of products made by members of our extended American family.  Seabrook’s cleaning crews are all equipped with Libman’s cheery green and white brooms and mops.

Most of the appliances in the homes we have stayed in at Seabrook are American made as is lots of the furniture.  We did a lot of reading on the porch of our Seabrook house this past summer and we were lucky to be sitting on great deck furniture made by Kingsley Bate.  Pretty stylish don’t you think?

So if you are looking for a great beach vacation, look no farther than Seabrook.  Come in the summer for our amazing summers.  Or come in the winter for blustery beach walks as you watch the storms come pounding in off the Pacific.  In any season, you and your family will have a great vacation.  And given Seabrook’s commitment to products made by members of our extended American family, those relatives will be happy as well that you came for a visit.

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