I feel a bit silly and insincere with this post. I try to expound an ideal of living inexpensively and modestly. But, truthfully, I am every bit into loving and wishing and consuming beautiful things as the next. I have tried my very hardest over recent years to be more contemplative in my purchases. Concentrating on the whether I really need it and if it appears well made. I believe that with these two doctrines I have greatly reduced the amount of crap I bring into our home. I have cut out superstores in favor of Goodwills when I need tupperware or sheets for the guest bed or extra wineglasses for a dinner party. It is my fierce belief that most things can be washed and made as (almost) good as new. Sometimes, however, I find myself pining for the New. A New blanket, or a New sweater. Not one with small holes. Not one with fading stains.
When I do want to treat myself to something New I look first and fore-mostly at where it was made. It is not my intention for this to be an anti-made-in-China and thus anti-hard-working-people-of-China post. Nor do I mean for this to be an inherently elitist post for the price on the items below do -at first blush- seem prohibitively expensive. I argue, however, that products, like the ones below, are made with care and accountability in the USA and that such a product is a better investment than a shopping cart full of breakable plastic from Target. It is an investment in the artist, or in the American company that is keeping Americans employed. It is an investment for yourself in shoes that will carry you through 30 winters, or a blanket to keep you and your husband warm. It is an investment in your country and your fellow countrymen. If I lived on a cow-dairy farm in Bretagne this would be a Made in France post. If I lived on a sheep farm on Prince Edward Island (as I have always dreamed) this would be a Made in Canada post. But I live and farm in Vermont, so this is a Made in the USA post.
Without further ado, what follows below is a compilation of winter appropriate Made in the USA pieces of art and function that I have found and loved.
I found Maura through the gorgeous way she documents her quilting via Instagram. She has a red bus and I have a yellow one. She can quilt and I can make yogurt. I thought it was a pretty good match. Sadly, she hand-makes these gorgeous quilts in Texas so the chances of us trading skills are small. If I had the ability I would cover every bed in my (imaginary) farm house with one of these, starting with this Jackson quilt beauty.
Snowshoeing has become a way of life up here. I hadn't expect that. I certainly hadn't expected loving it. The two times I tried my feet at it before I had found exhausting and cold. Quickly, however, in Vermont it has become one of only two ways to get any exercise outside (the other being xcountry skiing, and I guess to a much lesser and silly extent, sledding). Handmade in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan by Iverson these wooden snowshoes are not only gorgeous but promise better flotation in fresh snow and a quieter ride than the newer aluminum ones. Available here too.
I have the traditional bean boot but there is something so oddly sexy about the taller versions of the llbean maine hunting shoe. They are made in Maine as most of the bean boots are. If you get them lined in Thinsulate they are warm enough to snowshoe in a 10°F night as I did last week-end. Waterproof and warm. All you need to get the chilly toes through a winter of chores and snow. (Right now they are having a sale on insulated boots until 1/14/13).
I have no real use for this other than to say that it is beautiful. I find that Etsy is a terrific source for handmade in the USA items. Surely, it can be a viciously addictive website. I don't think I have to warn any of you of that. But you can find this handblown terrarium made by Justin Bagley in Seattle, Washington or you can buy it here and support somebody faceless for twice the price.
Filson is one of my favorite outdoor clothing companies (Duluth Pack being my other favorite). Filson mainly focuses on manly clothing but every once in a great while they provide something truly useful for women. I have been fantasizing about this lovely wool packer coat ever since I laid my trusting little eyes on it. Chores coat. Outhouse coat. Fetching firewood coat. Feeding the sheep coat. Shoveling driveway coat. Oh the possibilities!
So, I hope you have all forgiven me my brief foray into the Land of Consumerism. I do believe in the healing power of buying oneself something nice. I also believe in the power our dollars can have on turning our economy, our country, and the quality of the things we buy around for the good.