Cool Products for the Home

You will find some really interesting and handy items on this ever growing list. Some of the websites are worth the visit, whether or not you are in the market to buy:  I have not bought the product as of yet, but I have to think I will at some point. This is one of those “why didn’t I think of that” products that you’ll find to be cool if anything. American Science & Surplus—this is a regional (SE WI & Chicagoland-area) retailer with both an online presence and physical storefront. I have used their retail store in Milwaukee several times as a resource when I had a quandary about where to find an item I needed and not wanting to go to 10 stores or pay a fortune for overnight shipping online on something I need now. They had it. Mind you, they have a lot of absolutely wacky, weird and perhaps some useless stuff as well, but a fun perusal nonetheless. The website is a great resource for how to care for your cast iron products, plus shows all the products in their lines. I am the happy owner of 4 pieces of Lodge cast iron. Two of the pieces—the “home” Dutch oven (versus “camp”) and the small griddle—I use almost exclusively when cooking. Unfortunately, the two remaining pieces get little use. I am not a fan of the griddle, although I may come around about it, and the large skillet (my first purchase) has been supplanted by using the Dutch oven’s lid as an expansion of the concept of one-pot cooking. I didn’t buy my pieces at their website; both the local Farm & Fleet and World Market carry Lodge (as does Amazon) and I bought mine on sale, no shipping charges. Please note that their enamelware is made in China.  I recently read an article in our newspaper insert called Americana Profiles. It is a charming narrative about a multi-generational family-owned business in Ohio that still makes copper kettles by hand. You can see their products online and can contact them regarding purchasing. View the Virtual Tour of the workshop area—a touch of real Americana.  Here is the article:  This company has a great personal story. They originally opened their store to sell products to the Amish. They have continued the tradition and have continued to be, in their words, “the world’s largest purveyor of historical technology.” A tremendous selection of practical, timeless products, along with a section dedicated to American-made products.  Solar roof shingles from Dow. With all of what we hear with government handouts, if you are not turned off by solar energy and are looking to buy a product from a company that has some longevity, this would be worth looking into.  I like Van Dykes and have used them. They provide a wide range of parts for those DIY-er’s that like to restore their homes and furniture to what it originally looked like. However, the products are not only for antiques. They sell items that can be handy for anyone wanting to restore or alter a piece of equipment or furniture and cannot find the right item at the “Big Box” retailers. Yes, Williams-Sonoma has now gotten into the act of providing products for all of you DIY-ers. This is perfect for all urban weekend-warrior farmers. And for the rest of you, a good chuckle over the prices of some of the products. OK, to be fair, W-S has provided a forum for made in America products as well. You be the judge. I found this website while looking for toys for my nephew after his pediatrician discovered elevated lead levels in his blood. Since most of our kids’ toys are from China, and we know how much China values children, I wanted to find some toys that, theoretically, were made with health and safety standards superior to the imports. The website has an extensive A-Z resource guide to toy makers in the USA. It is well worth the visit if you have children in your life, and there are direct links to Amazon for purchasing items. Please note: I’ve not verified the vendor list on the website; if you like a product, do your homework before purchasing! This is a wonderful product for the fisherman who takes his “best friend” fishing with him. This product is a folding step ladder for big dogs so that they can get in and out of the boat. Made in Wisconsin. A nice write-up was in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: