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Archive for October, 2009

We just went to a Halloween festival at Underwood Family Farms in Ventura County. They had lots of Halloween events, such as pony rides, pig races, and a bluegrass band. There was also a handmade toy seller that impressed me. Below are photos of Arlen Handberg of “Grandpa’s Toys & Crafts.” The products are quite reasonably priced and very well-made. We bought my daughter a race car ($8) and a marble dispenser ($15). I think that’s even cheaper than Chinese toys made with lead paint. Actually, Arlen said that the government is trying to shut him down because of the controversy over lead paint in Chinese  toys. He doesn’t use any lead paint, but because of the Chinese, all American manufacturers of any size are being forced to test their toys. This kind of onerous regulation will put many small manufacturers like Arlen out of business.  Tell your representative!

In the meantime, if you would like to get something from Arlen, his email address is arlenh@dslextreme.com.

Arlen Handberg with his wood toys

Arlen Handberg with his wood toys

Marble Tree $15

Marble Tree $15

Wood Racecar $8

Wood Racecar $8

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We’ve started building an addition to our house right now.  We’re adding a bedroom and 1.5 bathrooms to our very cramped house.  So, of course, we’re trying to get building materials and fixtures that are made in usa when possible.  Not as easy as you might think.  Below is our experience to date with the various items:

Lumber – no problem, it’s all domestic.

Bathtub – we got an acrylic Kohler tub, made in USA.  Acrylics are usually made in usa but the larger cast iron tubs are usually Chinese.   We really tried to get the fixtures for it from Moen or Delta or from Newport Brass, which are supposed to at least be assembled in USA.  Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the right configuration for what we needed, except from Cifial, which is made in Portugal.

Tile – we needed to match travertine to what we had now, and this is Mexican.  Most natural stone appears to be imported.  I don’t understand why.  We’re also getting ceramic tile, which is Datile and is made in USA.

Vanities – We tried extensively to get made in usa vanities and sink fixtures, but we just couldn’t pass up really modern complete vanity sets with sinks and faucets for a tiny fraction of what we would have paid for such things ($1600 vs. probably $7000).  These are made in China.  You can’t always buy Made in USA.  I’m willing to spend 30-50% more for Made in USA, or organic, or whatever, but not 400% more!

Toilets – we searched in vain for made in USA toilets.  The only ones I heard of were Elger, but they were nowhere near here.  Kohler and American Standard are made in Mexico!  Toto, a Japanese company, I’ve read, has some toilets made in Georgia (ironic, huh?) but we couldn’t find any such toilets where we shopped.  So we got pretty cheap imported toilets from Kohler.

Drywall – the contractor is buying this, but I checked with him and he said it’s made locally.

Lighting – same issue as the vanities.  We could have gotten American made lighting from Americanmadelighting.com for roughly 3-7 times the cost of the made in China lighting that we ordered.  I can’t afford that kind of difference right now.  So we spent about $250 instead of $1200.

Windows – we already have Magic Windows in our house, which are Canadian, so we bought additional ones from them.  They are unique in having a roller slide out screen.  I know of no such American-made windows

We have yet to do the roof, drywall, and electrical.  I know that the recessed lighting is all imported too.   So far, not a very fulfilling made in USA experience!

Update 11/29/09:

We’ve gotten our roof – the shingles are all made in USA 🙂  The drywall is American-made also.  The wire mesh for stucco and house wrap are also American.  We just ordered stone fascia from Coronado which is also made in Southern California.  So we’re doing ok so far.

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