Saddle up!

Earlier in this blug we talked about bikes made in the good ol' USA:


Most frames are not made here though there are excellent and somewhat pricey exceptions. Your bike can have many domestic parts. At the top of the list of what makes cycling fun is a well fitted saddle. If   you've yet to fall in love at first sit with a saddle it's well worth your time to read:


One of the better saddles is Sella An Atomica. Here's a video about the company and workers who build one of the best saddles.


Back to Seattle in a moment ...

We have many happy memories of days spent at Pescadero. Just off Highway 1 north of Santa Cruz is this little town, blink and you'll be past it. I hesitate to write this because I don't want it to get crowded spoiled but wait. Nobody reads my blog but you, gentle readers. We're safe.

I've learned not shop on empty stomach get artichoke bread and pasta sauce at the store across the street. You could build a picnic, they have everything you need.

Or sit down for Italian food at Duarte's and then go shop here:


You'll find furniture, weavings, pottery, sculptures and most by local coastal artisans. One quiet day they showed us the furniture workshop with repurposed wood being cured for custom beds and furniture. Wonderful to see the craftsmanship behind the scenes.



I wonder why I did not try the Wonder Walker before?

Previously on Made in USA Reviews we saw our heros meet a supermodel for a locally made product, the Wonder Walker:


Mae, the dog you see at the top of the screen and also here on her custom doggie platform bed is my late dog.

She had many fine qualities and like all dogs some quirks. She liked cows, horses, geese, pigs, alpacas, and had a BFF kangaroo. But she had issues with dogs, unless she considered them "her dog". She table surfed or at least tried to often.

But she had great leash manners. We walked as one, walking her was a pleasure.

Now that she's gone there are two dogs in our lives; B, a large mature dog, and P (not their real names), a small Puggle.

P has just completed his first puppy manners class, B has his Canine Good Citizen certification. And they both pull like a son of a gun!

I knew about the Wonder Walker, P's trainer at Puppy Manners Class recommended the Wonder Walker. So I finally got one.

Wow, it's a wonder! There was an immediate result. From the first walk with it the pulling vanished, no skating off to the side, pulling into traffic at intersections (the most frightening aspect) all gone.

The halter is no replacement for continued positive training and the work and play so he can succeed at Puppy Manners II. But it's a remarkable invention and made an immediate difference. If a dog owns you, get one:



Just in time for Valentines day

We found these just in time for the holidays. The design was whitty, well drawn and our friends loved the cards.  In a world where we keep in touch by Facebook, blogs and text sometimes a card is just what you need. A collective of Portland artists designs each card. They are printed in the good ol' USA on sustainably sourced paper on soy and vegetable based ink.



Back to blog basics for a moment.

The reason for this blog came from a casual conversation with my Mom about the decline in manufacturing here in the good ol' USA. While it's hard to avoid imported products particularly China but there are many reasons to buy local wherever local is to you. These could include living more simply by having less stuff, better for the planet by using less energy for transport and yes, humanitarian reasons.


By no means was this blog established to bash China and certainly not the Chinese people. But I do ask my gentle readers to read the labels and to seek local (wherever on the planet local is to you) alternatives. If you can't find any you might ask yourself as the woman in the article did; Do I really need this?


For my next kitchen.

If you watch the DIY network you know the design principle of: pick three objects you love then find tones, color and materials that compliment them. When I remodeled my condo I had a selection of handmade Mexican tiles I'd found at a local import store. http://www.ttazteca.com/ 

Each tile was the perfect design to bring the outside in. The owner travels south each year to visit craftspeople in Mexico. He even looked for themes I wanted like kitchen implements, more of the sun and moon imagery, squash and melon image tiles etc.

So just match them, right? It took forever to find Travertine tile to match the size, texture and tone. By the time I found some I was beyond caring about their country of origin. I was just happy to find tile that complimented them.

But had I known about this I may have bought direct from them. 


Oh well, next kitchen. That's how we learn. 


Sonoma wine country

I meant to focus the blog exclusively on durable goods made here. Remind me to get back to that. Food's not a durable especially in my household if delicious. Here is something I love made lovingly by hand in Sonoma county.

When you think of Sonoma jack cheese it's normally the large company, the cheese factory which depending on where my gentle readership is you see in stores. They are good but when in Sonoma go off the plaza to find:

Vella's offers a variety of seasonal cheeses even depending on what the happy cows are eating. My favorite is their dry jack which rivals the finest parmesan cheeses. Serve it slivered over salad, in baked goods, with fresh fruit or on top of pasta. All Vella's cheeses are grand but this is our family favorite for casual meals to parties. 

If you can't get to Sonoma they can ship to you. If you're in the wine country step awaaaay from the plaza and stroll over to Vella's. 


Ms MUT Manners says: look where you want to go

I'm no downhill racer but my bike handling skills are pretty good. If yours are too ignore this post. If you're new or newer to riding listen up.

Obstacles on the bike can ruin your whole day. Tracks, potholes, gravel, unleashed dogs and loose children, squirrels and so on. Yesterday whilst pedaling to downtown I spied a new rider in the distance. How could I tell? She's tense, shoulders up, arms at an angle I did not think humanly possible, hands clenched and so on. As we approached a squirrel dashed across the trail. Her eyes followed it both with interest, it's nice to see wildlife on a ride but perhaps nervous that the squirrel would get caught in her spokes.

She sees the squirrel, eyes follow the squirrel, her bike wavers that direction, she's kind of leaning left and all this is taking her right smack dab into me. I voiced a reasonably gentle call out and prepared to exit to the right off the path. When she saw me her eyes flew wide open, a sudden look of shock and horror.

Do I look that bad? No, I think I was stylin' in my new purple ankle-high socks from Hub and Bespoke which I'll write about later. It's just that she got squirrel tunnel vision.

See the squirrel, follow the squirrel.
Follow the squirrel, hit the ..... yikes!!

It's the same for any obstacle:
See the pothole you will hit the pothole.
See the broken glass you will be fixing a flat.
See the tracks wipe out on the tracks (word about that next perhaps).

Folks whether you're cruising to the coffee shop or racing always look where you want to go. The descent may be technical, there will be obstacles, keep your eyes on the clear path forward.

You can sight-see and let your eyes wander and we need to do that and appreciate the outdoors. But always have awareness of the clear path you want to take.