Tuesday, November 26, 2013

New Balance: Still (Mostly) Made in the USA

New Balance still makes tennis shoes in the United States. The company currently employees 1,300 individuals in their five Maine and Massachusetts factories. According to the company, "One out of every 4 pairs of shoes we sell in the USA is made or assembled here. Where the domestic value is at least 70%, we label our shoes 'Made in the USA.'"

On quick perusal, Many athletic Mens New Balance shoes, particularly the classic sneaker styles, are Made in the United States. The 812 Walking Shoe, as well as numerous service industry styles are made right at the Newton Street factory in Boston. Women's fashion shoes and select men's and women's athletic styles are made overseas. Sometimes the country of origin is not listed on a retailer's site. Sometimes cross referencing the model number or name to the New Balance site proves necessary.

To boot - or should I say 'to sneaker' - New Balance is closed this Thanksgiving Day. The customer service line and factories are closed. Hopefully, the company will stay steadfast in allowing their employees to take a break, just as it is committed - thus far - to keeping important jobs on U.S. soil.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mini Soap-A-Rama

When my father used to travel for business, he'd bring home half used bottles of hotel shampoo and a few neatly wrapped soaps. "They give you a new one everyday - how could I use them all? Later, they were used in the guest bath or for any time any family member went on vacation for a few days. The sizes were so handy.

One can purchase any Hotel Supply Online - suitcase valets, cleaning implements and more, but personal items, such as soap and shampoo come by the case. (There is an Atlanta Hotel Supply  that supplies all the major chains with not just soap, but Hotel Bar Supplies.) I wouldn't need that many, but in comparing prices, it sure comes out a lot more economically than buying the small sized items at the specialty shops. It's not just hotel-branded items but items that look more spa like for the high end hotels.

If you decide you decide that you don't like the scent and the fragrance outweighs any savings, there are many groups that work with the homeless that regularly asked for hotel sized toiletries. They are easy to give out and easy for a person to carry with them, or to treat them like a treasured guest for the night.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Unity Ceremony: Choose the Right Candle

Weddings come in waves, and it seems in 2012 and 2013 I am going to my share. Unity ceremony elements are still very popular, whether it involves sand or candles.

One tip: When choosing a candle, be sure to read it. A friend almost bought a candle that said "Loving Memory" instead of "Love." Some couples choose to light a candle in memory of significant loved ones who have passed, such as a grandparent or a parent.

Any candle may suffice to you when choosing a unity candle for your wedding, but make sure you clarify when purchasing it to mention what part of the ceremony it is for.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Wedding Decorations: Skip the Wedding Tax

Did you realize that the average wedding budget is $27,800? It is according to The Knot. Weddings in higher ticket urban areas may come wildly above that figure. It is estimated, from various sources that wedding decorations account for 5-10% of the budget, while the reception as a whole costs half the budget. The reception includes the locale, the food and music, but does not include the cost of decorative items purchased - of course, unless you budget it that way.

The decor budget tops out at $2780 for the average wedding. That's a lot of candlesticks and flowers.

There is no hard and fast rule, but to save money, do not go to a florist, printer or party supplier and announce that you are buying for a wedding. The price tends to go up fast with the inevitable "wedding tax." Just simply choose items that you like, and make sure the quantity is on hand.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Wedding Guest Book...Print?

At a recent wedding, the couple chose to forgo a traditional wedding guest book and encourage guests to sign a print instead. The print was of a tree, illustrated in cartoon rather than realistic fashion. The date and the names of the couple were on the trunk. Each guest was encouraged to stamp a finger in green, chartreuse or brown ink and place their finger or thumbprint on one of the branches. Then, each guest wrote messages of congratulations somewhere in the white space of the print. The print was matted and framed, then placed on the wall of the couple's new home.

Did you do depart from the traditional guest book?

Friday, December 28, 2012

Kid Friendly Wedding Favors

The flower girls (extremely plural) and the ring bearer are featured in the wedding, but your reception doesn't include children. Etiquette usually dictates, unless the parents decide otherwise, that all members of the wedding party attend the reception. If the flower girls, ring bearer and junior bridesmaids attend, you can still limit the child guest list to attendants. What if all the children in the family except a few are included in the wedding party? It would be difficult to exclude them, especially if one side of the family was represented in the wedding and not the other.

To occupy well behaved children who are attending the reception at the parents' discretion, the jordan almonds might be a miss. Consider selecting different wedding favors for the child's place setting, or choose something that all ages could enjoy. Chocolate or other more familiar candies, a mini gumball machine, or personalized pencils go over bigger than votive holders or corkscrews.

Should you decide to have a child-free wedding, that is your decision, but if a couple children attend, make them feel like welcome, rather than unwelcome guests whom you rather not have invited.

Flower Girl Baskets - and Boys Too

Typically, the flower girl carries a basket and in the spirit of leaving no child behind, a little boy serves as ring bearer. In one recent wedding, I saw a little boy carrying a basket as well. The girls had white wicker flower girl baskets and the boy had a natural brown one. Instead of flowers, he carried bubble wands and happily handed them out to guests.

The young man was a little older than the typical two to four or five year old range for a ring bearer. He was closer to seven or eight. The couple did not want to have a place in their wedding for the the daughters of a cousin and leave out their nephew, so modified a traditional role.

Never let a wedding grow to a cast of thousands just to make everyone feel included, but some traditional roles are worth modifying to fit the make up of a family.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Unique Wedding Favors: What Are Yours?

RealSimple magazine had a spread suggesting ideas for unique wedding favors that your guests might not have seen before. One suggestion was cellophane wrapped ingredients to make S'mores. Every wedding I attended features the S'more idea, so perhaps every bride read that issue this year.

The two truly different items were personalized pencils and heart sparklers. Pencils certainly are useful items that wouldn't be discarded. The names of the bride and groom and the date naturally would appear here, but maybe not. Maybe you can come up with some catchy sayings or statements of thanks for each guest.  Sparklers might work best for an outdoor wedding or reception.

Use your personality when it comes to wedding favors, whether you use the occasion to disburse your tea cup collection to guests or you choose something more standard issue. Porcelain swans can have personality, too, with the help of some bric-a-brac,

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Reinventing the Block

Even though snow is not in sight here, the ground is frozen. Construction starts are delayed until the spring. Much of the material used is the same as what your grandparents used on their house, with updates in foam and insulation.

There is a new green alternative in insulated concrete forms. Made from cement bonded wood fiber, Durisol now makes a product that not efficiently insulates noise barriers and wall forms, but incorporates industrial lumbar waste in addition to concrete. All of the waste is clean, such as leftover planer shavings and leftover pieces from truss makers.  No post-consumer waste is used to prevent contamination.

The material also has more design versatility over a concrete brick or building form, where a design is limited to the dimensions of the block. Insulated concrete forms can be cut with standard carpentry tools, such as a table saw, and can also be nailed and screwed without any special equipment.

The forms contain no solvents or plastics, which contributes to a cleaner indoor air environment, as well.

If you are currently planning to build a home, an addition or a play house, ICFs may be your answer.

Suspicious Beach Wedding Favors

Last winter, colleagues of mine renewed their wedding vows. Since the original wedding only included the couple, the parents and witnesses, they decided to have a big party for their anniversary.

The invites said:

No Gifts, Please.
Instead, Please bring an item for the local food pantry. 

Other than the lack of presents, the party was similar to a regular wedding reception with wedding favors and all.

Just before the reception, with no time for the renewed bride and groom to inspect the tables, a niece switched the table settings. She placed beach wedding favors, such as a porcelain star fish, treasure chests and real sand dollars near the couples' seats. The couple looked at this quizzically and thought there was some mistake. The renewed groom is quite the control freak...I mean is very detail oriented...so this was extremely vexing.

Just as his concern appeared to peak, an announcement was made that everyone chipped in to send them to the beach as a second honeymoon. It was a nice winter surprise.