Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Quick Cable – Jumper Cables

It seems like no one has a set of jumper cables. I found this out the hard way in New York City back in 2006. My work SUV was very old and ran out of juice. For over an hour I stopped dozens and dozens of cars. I didn’t have cables and neither did anyone else that I asked. Finally and FBI agent that I stopped took pity on me and gave me a jump. The take away, if you car is more than 4 years old you need to keep a set of jumper cables in the trunk. 

Jumping a car is a simple process, but it can go horribly wrong. This is usually caused by operator error, but it can also be caused by faulty cables. You are essentially directing a powerful current of electricity with wires you hold in your hands. You want to have good well insulated wires that won’t fray or crack over time. This is not a time to get cheap. 

Some quality “American made” jumper cablescables from Quick Cable are just what you need. The “Rescue” line of cables that are tangle proof, perform well in subzero temperatures, and are constructed with fine stranded copper for maximum conductivity. They retail for $33.18 and are engineered and manufactured in the good ol U S of A. If you have an older car you should probably consider buying a pair. Keep them in the truck, they’ll be waiting for you when you need them. Who knows you might be giving a stranded Piggy Bank Builder a jump one day. 

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Triple the Ebay Bucks!

For the next two days Ebay is offering a special promotion to “Ebay Bucks” imgeBayBucks_174x36_1enrollees. For those of you who aren’t familiar, ebay bucks are a cash back on any items you buy on Ebay. It’s usually 2% of the selling price. For the rest of today and tomorrow they are tripling that offer. Now you can get 6% back on your purchases. A nice deal, but you can sweeten it by adding some Big Crumbs and a good cash back credit card. If you work it out you could potentially get 12% back.

Please keep this in mind, you have to enroll first. It takes a few seconds, but it is certainly worth it. Perhaps you can use this as an opportunity to get an early jump on your Christmas shopping? Or just buy something for yourself, I won’t tell. 

 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Seventh Generation Diapers

Going green is more than just a trendy slogan, its even more then being environmentally friendly, its about making healthy choices. The last two decades have seen huge change, a questioning into what we put in and on our bodies. When I go food shopping I check the ingredients and I am always comforted by a very short list. If I pick up a bottle of ice tea and it reads “black tea leaves, sugar from sugar cane, and citric acid” I feel good about buying it. I don’t want to eat a chemistry experiment or have one touching my body. 

My Bride is even more aggressive at this than I am. When we first moved in together she was very critical of my cleaning products. I reluctantly switched, when a choice didn’t work, we switched to something else. Despite my reservations I am happy with this decision. I feel that all of the alternate products that we have adopted have worked out just as well as their chemically counter parts. 

One of the most common brands that we have started using is “Seventh Generation. It’s a relatively new brand, founded in the early 1990’s.  Until about 2 years ago, I was unaware of it and as I mentioned prior, I was skeptical.  I am happy to report that I was wrong. I enjoy their products and would recommend them to others. 

As my wife and I move towards starting a family I have kept an eye out for products that would work for us. diapersOne of the first products you are going to need if you are going to enter parenthood is diapers. Seventh Generation make chemical free, hypoallergenic diapers right here in America.

A 144 count pack sells on Amazon for $43.96, even less if you an Amazon Mom or subscribe and save member. The reviews are very strong, it seems like many parents are opting to go chemical free and I agree with them.  A safe, American made product will be at the top of my Daddy grocery list. If you are a new parent you might consider doing the same. 

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The PiggyBankBuilder Portfolio – 10 Month Update

Two months remain in the year and my fictitious portfolio is chugging right along. Recently the stock market has taken a bit of a dive, let’s see how I did. 

  • Cablevision (CVC) – Purchase price – $17.96, number of shares 68. Current Price: $18.23 a gain of $18.63, down big from August.
  • Microsoft (MSFT) – Purchase price $37.47, number of 33. Current Price: $47.33, a gain of $325.38, up slightly since August. 
  • iShares Silver Trust (SLV) – Purchase price $18.92, number of shares 66. Current Price: $15.39 a crushing loss of $232.98
  • BlackBerry (BBRY) - Purchase price $9.25, number of shares 160, Current Price $10.16 a gain of $145.60

So as things stand now, my gains shrank to $256.63 or just over 5%. As you can see much of the damage was done by silver, dollarwhile that is frustrating, my decision to dump oil and move over to BlackBerry has kept my portfolio green for the year. 

These are choppy markets, and no one knows what is in store. Will today’s election spook Wall Street? Will low oil prices help the economy? I hope so. Looking out over the next two months I feel good about my portfolio’s short term prospects, but only time will tell. 

***Please not that I am not and investment advisor.Please consult your investment advisors before making any financial decisions that could result in loss.

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Maine Cottage

One of the biggest purchases you will make for your home is furniture. Practically ever time I turn on the TV I see a commercial for bargain bottom priced furniture sets from odd looking pitchmen. Some use cartoons, some us flashes graphics, but they all have the same theme, cheap is good. Low prices are all they talk about. Not quality, not durability, not even stylish looks, cheap cheap, cheap. 

About 10 years ago I fell for that trap, I bought a cheap bedroom set from some big box store. It looked nice enough and I thought I got a deal. Three years in and it started to fall apart. Now ten years out and I need a new set. If I had bought quality the first time I probably wouldn’t be in this situation. 

In my quest for new furnishings I have been searching all over the web. I found a few places I like, but one of the stand outs is the “Maine Cottage”.  Their products really island-bedare impressive, from their bright and exciting color options, to their simple shaker design. They offer handcrafted pieces that will last you a lifetime, perhaps even more then a life time. 

They start with solid white maple wood and a skilled craftsman takes that wood and turns it into something truly beautiful. They offer you an impressive selection of colors and materials that will allow you to select a unique and personalized piece that will fit perfectly into your home decor. In a world of cheap particle board and mass production, Main Cottage stands apart. 

Personally I like their“Island Bed”. Its simple design and clean lines really draws me in. I can picture it in my bedroom and I know it is a sturdy solid item. It sells for $2290, which I realize is pricey, but if you want quality you have to pay for quality. I don’t have that type of cash on hand, but if and when I do I will certainly look at Maine Cottage, I might even take a drive down to their showroom. 

If you are in the market for some furniture, ditch the particle board and the flimsy design for some hand craft American made quality. 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Uncle Goose Wooden ABC Blocks

Wooden ABC blocks are a truly timeless toy. You probably played with them, it’s likely that your parents did as well, and its possible that your children will do the same. Simple classic toys like theses are education and fun. They promote coordination in really young ones and an introduction to the alphabet as they learn and grow. 

So many things are made of blockscheap plastic that wooden blocks almost seem luxurious. “Uncle Goose” hand crafts their blocks in their Grand Rapids, Michigan factory. The craft and detail is quite impressive and the bright colors and patterns will surely catch your child’s eye. The blocks are carved from basswood and are adorned with safe, non-toxic ink. 

A set with a storage and carry bag seeks online for $36.95, a bargain price for a quality “American made” toy that will entertain and educate your child for many years. 

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Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Zenith Shower Caddy

I want to begin by apologizing  for my recently absence. Between my plumbing adventures and a recent bout of food poisoning I have not had the time required to write. All is better so here I go. 

My shower is from the 1960’s and I can only guess that back in the day people didn’t have as much complexity in their daily bathing routines. No luffas, no facial scrub, no conditioner, or moisturizers. I believe this because my bathtub has one small self, for a single bar of soap. That’t it, everything else has to sit on the edges of the tub where they randomly get knocked in or out of the tub. 

After nearly three months of this I said enough. I need a shower caddy and I set about finding one. I started my search where I always do, Amazon. To my surprise the #1 rated bathtub/shower organizer was “Made in America” by a company called Zenith. Now, don’t get me wrong, it makes sense that the best product was made here as I have often found that to be the case. shower caddyWhat struck me was that an American company still made such an organizer. I had honestly thought that the never ending flood of cheap Chinese products had pushed out domestic manufacturers long ago. I am pleased to see that I was wrong. 

The surprises continued to come when I saw the Price of the Zenith Shower Caddy, $13.39. I was sold. I ordered it and two days later it arrived. I will warn you, the assembly is a little tricky and the instructions are not very helpful. Here is another tip, the caddy is designed for a shower stall. If you have a tub you need to leave out the bottom section. That last part stumped me for a bit. 

Now that its in I really like my Zenith shower caddy. All of our stuff fits nicely on it sand I no longer have to worry about my soap turning to mush in our soap dish. Another great American made products in my home, certainly worth the 13 bucks I paid for it. 

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Red Bull Gives You Cash!

As I have mentioned previously I am a new cameraman. People in this profession are no stranger to the double shift, the 14 hour day, and the short turn around. The news is unpredictable and when things are at their worst long hours often follow. It can be a grind and it will slow you down. red bullYou need a boost, some turn to coffee. I don’t care for it. In the past I had turned to “Red Bull” for my pick me up because as they say, “Red Bull gives you wings”.

As it turns out that catch phrase is misleading, so much so that it lead to a class action lawsuit, a winning one at that. As part of the settlement “Red Bull” has agreed to give anyone who purchased one of their products from January 1st 2002 and October 3rd of 2014 either $10 or $15 in Red Bull products. To claim this settlement all you have to do is click on the following link and follow the simple instructions.  It’s limited to one per house hold and you have until March 2015 to enroll. If you bought a Red Bull in the last 12 years, 10 bucks could be yours.

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How Doing It Myself Saved Me $200

On Sunday mornings I like to plan out my week, draw up a “to do” list, check my bank statements and bills,  basically get things ready for the days ahead. Well, as I was brushing my teeth last Sunday all of that changed. I felt the warm rush of water on my feet and noted how good it felt. “Wait a second, why is warm water pouring onto my feet.” I opened the doors to my sink vanity and found that the drain pipe was leaking badly. What to do? I could call a plumber. It was the weekend and many charge off hour or emergency charges. This would be on top of his normal fee, either flat or hourly. 

I could have waited till Monday, but even then I was looking at a huge bill, probably around 200 bucks. I decided to try my hand at it. Since it was a drainage pipe and not and water pipe I knew their was little damage that I could do. If I screwed up I could still call the plumber and endure his mockery of my amateur efforts. With no real foreseeable down side I decided to go for it.

I noticed that the connection between two of the pipes, the “J” pipe and the one that connects tot he main were the spot of the leak. I took a trip to my local homedepot, explained the problem, and it was suggested that I needed a new washer. It set me back 2 bucks and I returned home. 

It all seemed too easy and of course it was. When I went to replace the washer one of the pipes began to crumble in my had. PipeI couldn’t see from the outside, but the entire pipe had been undermined by rust. I would have to replace it, or call a plumber. I decided to keep going. 

That night, after work, I began to remove the damaged pipe with tools I borrowed from my grandfather. I am going to be honest, it was not easy. I could not unscrew the collar that held the pipe to the wall, it wouldn’t budge and laying under the sink didn’t offer the best angle. I decided to disconnect the faucet and slide the vanity away from the wall. 

This allowed me a much better angle on the pipe. Even still the collar wouldn’t budge. I tried and tried and was only successful when I resorted to literally standing on the wrench. Victory? Not so fast, 60 years of being joined together fused the pipe  to the drain pipe. I had to break the pipe in half and pull the remnants out using a pair of needle nose pliers. 

After two hours of trying the pipe was out and the Bride and I were brushing our teeth in the kitchen. The next morning I went back to home depot and purchased a replacement pipe. After another two hours of adjusting and tightening and more tightening (that collar was almost as difficult to put back on as it was to take off). Still after two hard fought hours the sink was back to form.

Well, almost, it was draining that well now. Replacing the pipe kick dup a lot of junk inside there. I grabbed a plunger and went to work. Finally after another 5 minutes of plunging I heard a pop and all of the water went rushing down my newly repaired sink. Victory!

A day later and all is well. I have a sheet of paper towel under the sink and I check it from time to time, no leaks. The total cost of the project set me back about $15. I saved over a hundred bucks by buckling down and tackling the problem on my own and not only does it feel great, but I have earned the respect of the Bride. I got to be the hero of the day and it felt great. 

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My Garden Adventure – SugarBaby Watermelons

My garden is nearly complete, I am following my corn review with one for my watermelons. I planted my “sugar baby” watermelons back in mid June and harvested them in mid September. Here is what I found:

Yield: I grew about 12 melons, but only 5 of them were edible. Garden1The other 7 melons never reached full size. Some of this could be attributed to me planting them late, another factor might be the plants being planted too close to a fence that shaded them for a few hours each day. The main factor I believe was my failure to prune the plants. I should have cut back the amount of melons to allow the remaining ones the energy to grow. I would rather have 7 great big watermelons that I can enjoy rather then 4 that are good, one that was okay, and 5 that I can’t eat.

Taste: The four that I harvested first were delicious. They were so juicy and tasted fantastic.

Problems: This was probably the most problem free of all of my crops. It spread well and grew strong. It never got sick and the bugs seemed to leave it alone. It really was a treat.

Things I Would Change: Although I consider this a fairly successful crop and I think a few changes next time will go a long way. I plan to move it over one bed so it can get direct sunlight for most of the day. I will research pruning techniques to increase the size and yield of the melons. Finally I will try to fertilize the watermelons more with an organic fertilizer.

Conclusion: I give this crop a B+ based solely on yield. I will certainly plant it again next year and as I learn more about gardening techniques I hope to be able to improve on this years results. 

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