Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Sauder Carson Coffee Table

 From time to time when I visit a friend or relatives room home I will often notice that the fireplace is the center of their living room. The entire layout is directing toward the fireplace.  The explanation for this is very simple, seventy or eighty years ago when the house was built it was common for large family to gather near a fire for warmth and socialization. 

Now with the improvements in heating systems and the rise of the television and internet people are less interested in fireplaces. Modern homes are built around technology, living rooms are designed with television viewing in mind. Home builders have caught up to the times, but oddly most furniture builders have not. I am looking for a new computer desk and I am surprised at how many of the desks I find with layouts similar to writing desks. They have no place to put a keyboard and no holes to hide wires. They are well made pieces, but they have not adapted to the changing needs of their users. 

Sauder furniture has not only embraced change, coffe tablebut they are innovators are well. Their Lift-top coffee table is just what a connected and digital living room needs. At first glance it looks like and well made coffee table but it comes with an impressive features. The table top lifts and rises up to the person seated on the couch or chair. This provides and ideal resting place and workspace for a laptop or tablet. As far as I am concerned this is one of the greatest space saving innovations since the murphy bed. 

This coffee table like most  “Sauder furniture”  is made in Archbold Ohio and has been since the 1930′s. To sweeten the pot a little more I found that Amazon is selling it for 55% off. This fine coffee table could be yours for $122.72. A fantastic price for a fantastic product. It is well reviewed and built right here in America. 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Made in the USA

My Experience with Peer to Peer Leading – One Year Out

For the last year now I have been investing in peer to peer lending through my Prosper account. For those of you who may not be familiar with them Prosper pairs investors like myself with people looking for loans. I deposit money into my account, search the available loan listings for one that I find appealing, and select a loan to fund.  Once the loan is fully funded the money is released to the borrower and they make their monthly payments. Prosper pays me back that portion of the principal plus the interests every month for the life of the loan. 

So how did I do? Well in theScreen Shot 2014-09-24 at 9.30.58 PM last year I have deposited $1100 into my account. During that time I have earned $84.75 from my 29 loans, a return of nearly 8%. Now I realize the dollar amount is small, but you won’t find a return like that at any bank that I know of. My local federal credit union is currently paying 1.3% on a 3 year CD, if I had invested my $1100 into that my yearly yield would have been about $15. The only upside to CD’s is the extremely low risk, CD’s don’t default.

Going back to my loans, none of them, knock wood, have defaulted. None of them have even been delinquent. As you can see from the illustration the majority of them are rated “A” or “AA” by Prosper. I have chased the higher yield of riskier borrowers and so far it seems to be working out. My “AA” loans have an interest rate of about 6% while my only “E” pays an interest rate of 28.25% and he’s made all of his 11 payments on time. 

If I were to give this experience a grade thus far it would be an A-. The prosper site is very easy to use and the information they offer is very detailed. Their rating systems is an excellent tool and I will continue to use this site for my investing. Over the next year I would like to build the value of my account to $3000.00. As long as the economy remains stable that will be my plan. 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Earning Ideas, Intro

Ebay Crumbs Just Got BIGGER

Last month I shared the news with you that Big Crumbs had begun offering cash back on qualified Ebay purchases. ebay logo piggybankbuilderToday I am happy to report that they have doubled that amount from 1/2 a percent to 1 percent. It may not seem like much but when you add Ebay Bucks and a good cash back rewards card you can really build yourself a nice deal. 

If you are an avid E-bayer head over to BigCrumbs for the details. 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Saving Money

Made in the U.S.A. Monday- Noodle & Boo Body Wash and Baby Products

We live in a time when you really have to read the labels. What is in that food or lotion and is it good for me? Recalls pop up all the time and unfortunately people are harmed by what should be regular household products.  Companies will sometimes cut corners to make profits. You need to protect yourself, you need to seek out products that are made with quality and safety in mind. 

This is monementally important when infants and their mothers are concerned. I’ve researched parabens, sulfates, and BPAs, these are most things you want to expose anyone to particularly an expecting mother and her child. Many of the ingredients found in lotions and shampoos are being investigated and debated about regarding their health effects. 

I don’t mean to scare anyone, I am simply suggesting that we all try to be  vigilant and seek out products like those offered from “Noodle and Boo”. Named after the founder’s children (their nicknames), “Noodle and Boo” creates luxurious safe products for mothers and children.

heavenly_honey_wash2_detailItems like this “Heavenly Honey Wash” that are made with they describe as “natural and gentile ingredients”. Made in California by people who value quality and safety you can rest assured that you are making sound choice.

Best of all, despite the luxuriousness of their products they are very reasonably priced. Many of their items can be had for around $12. This is comparable to many lotions and washes in the segment. At that price and with their crediateials I would certainly recommend trying some of “Noodle and Boo’s” offerings. A safe quality “Made in America” company making top shelf products. 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Made in the USA

My Gardening Adventure – Corn

As my micro farm is coming to an end I thought it would be best to review each crop and focus on my experience. To recap I have planted corn, watermelon, pumpkins, tomatoes, and cucumbers. This first to be completely harvested was corn so I will focus on it in this post.

I planted some “Golden Bantam Sweet Corn” back in mid June. I harvested that corn in early september. Here is what I have taken away from the experience.

Yield:  I harvested 32 ears of corn. This number exceeded corn2the high range of my estimates and allowed me to share much of my corns with several friends and family members. Compared to traditional genetically modified corn, my “Golden Bantan” cobs were similar in length, but thinner. I did a little searched and found that corn thickness is measured by rows of corn. I may look for a high row count next time I plant.

Taste: Delicious! I realize that I am biased, but pulling corn from the stalked and cooking it minutes later was a real treat. For about a week I had corn as part of my lunch.

Problems: Honestly, none. I was always worried about bugs or blight, but nothing ever happened. The corn grew fast and steady. When it got to 6 get I added a small dance around the edges in case a storm came. The tips of many of my cobs failed to produce kernels, but this may have been caused by me. I read online about the need to hand pollinate corn to improve yield. I tried their techniques and it may have caused the pollination to fail at the end. When I asked an expert about this she told me that hand pollination was unnecessary, that the corn does a fine job on its own.

Secret for my success: This is my first year so I am far from a pro, but I think I did a few things right. First off was the soil, my raised beds allowed me to control the soil and create a great environment for the corn to grow. I used organic soil, compost, and dry manure. I also added earthworms and organic fertilizer. With that storm foundation I was able to grow storm tall plants. I checked on them every morning and watered them regularly, first with a hose and then switching to soaker hose to keep the water off of the leaves.

Conclusions:  I give this crop and A- and will certainly be planting it next year. The only changes I will make will be to move it over one bed so that it doesn’t shade any of my other crops. I will also plant the rows at different time so the row closest to the sun doesn’t shade out the further row. I may select a thicker cob variety and will add beans to the bed. Corn pulls nitrogen from the soil and beans add it so they work in harmony. I can’t wait till spring.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Intro

Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Behrens Trash Cans

Garbage cans, clearly not the most glamorous purchase, but certainly not one that should not be made lightly. Nothing worse then dragging a heavy can full of garbage up to the curb and having the handle break off in your hand. Now you have to pull it by the inside lip, the filthy, smelly inside lip. It’s all down hill from there. 

Maybe metal is the way to go. garbage canA metal garbage can like your grandparents used too have. Like the one “Oscar the Grouch” lives in, he’s done so for the last 30+ years. Those things are built to last and Behrens is the one who builds them. 

Based in Winona Minnesota, Behrens has been making metal products in the USA for over 100 years! It’s an impressive feat when you stop to think about how much has changed in the country in that time, but metal garbage cans are hanging in there. 

A 31 gallon can like the on pictured is selling for $27.59. A fair price for an American made product that could last you many many years. 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Made in the USA

The PiggyBankBuilder Portfolio – Eight Month Update

Eight months down and four to go. stocksThe year has been good to my educational fictitious portfolio which has been performing very well. Let’s see what August brought us. 

  • Cablevision (CVC) - Purchase price – $17.96, number of shares 68. Current Price: $19.07 a gain of $75.48
  • Microsoft (MSFT) - Purchase price $37.47, number of 33. Current Price: $46.79, a gain of $307.56
  • iShares Silver Trust (SLV) - Purchase price $18.92, number of shares 66. Current Price: $18.22 a loss of $46.20
  • BlackBerry (BBRY) - Purchase price $9.25, number of shares 160, Current Price $10.21 a gain of $153.60

So year to day, net gains of $490.44 or just a hair shy of 10%. Silver’s slide is annoying, but I still maintain that it is an excellent hedge against disaster. Microsoft continues to impress and I am excited about its future. Perhaps is will touch $50 soon. BlackBerry, the newest edition to the portfolio, has been doing fantastically. 

Summer is usually the worst season for stocks, if we get a nice run into the end of the year I could see some great gains. Time will tell, as always I remain cautiously optimistic. 

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

Leave a Comment

Filed under Earning Ideas, Intro

Made in the U.S.A. Monday- Key-Bak ID Holder

I use an ID card at my workplace, to enter the building, to access my gear, I pretty much need that card to do anything. As security systems improve and computerization grows more and more if us are using some form of access card at our jobs. Lose that card and you are in pretty big trouble. 

You need something that is going to keep it at the ready keybakand will prevent it from falling off or getting lost. You need a holder like the one from Key-Bak. Founded over 60 years ago West Coast Chain Manufacturing is a California based, employee owned company that make a wide range of key holders that include Key-Bak product like.

Made from durable materials and backed by a life time warranty these retractable key reels are an excellent option for those of us that need to carry and display ID cards or access fobs. Clip to your belt loop and its ready to go. 

This product would be a huge upgrade from the belt clip holder that I have now. Not only does the clip scratch up and ruin my belt but it also digs into my side when I am driving. It is a nuisance that has bothered me long enough. I will replace it shortly with and American made Key-Bak holder

Leave a Comment

Filed under Made in the USA

Enjoying the Fruits of My Labor – Home Gardening the Final Stretch

Corn in the handToday I harvest my first ear of corn. This is the beginning of the end for my backyard garden. Unlike most endings this is a good thing. It all started back in mid-june, and now look at it. I’ve had a few bumps along the way and I’ve certainly learned a lot. Here is where things stand.

Howden Pumpkins: DISASTER! About three weeks ago we got a down pour of rain and it lead to the spread of a mildew that I have to admit, I can’t eliminate. Since I am organic I tried several remedies, Neem oil, a vinegar mixture, a milk mixture. Nothing seemed to work. Finally a found and organic fungicide that has helped me fight the spread, but I still can’t eliminate it. 

Organic GardenThe effects of the mildew have caused a huge die off in my once hearty pumpkin leaves and the loss of two pumpkins. The complications from this problem could cost me the entire crop. I have 5 pumpkins that seem like they will make it but I really don;t know. I have at least a month to go so at this point I will renin cautiously optimistic that I can pull through. 

Cucumbers: Since they are growing near the pumpkins they suffered at even worse amount of damage, the plants are fruiting but they look very sick. 

Golden Bantam Sweet Corn: Wow! These guys are doing great, I harvest my first ear less than an hour ago and will be eating it in mere minutes. Corn belowMy stalks are about 7 feet high, they are thick and healthy. I think I may have been a day or two early on my test ear so I will wait a day and begin picking my corn as the ears mature. I hope to get at least 15 ears of corn onto my dinner table this fall. Some of the ears are very small and might not reach full maturity. My wife and mother have already staked claims for the dead stalks and will turn them into Halloween decorations. I am very pleased with this crop and will be growing it next year. 

Tomatoes: I underestimated the space that these guys would need when I was planning my garden . They are 4 feet tall! They are break out of the cages I set them in! I have dozens and dozens of big green tomatoes that I am waiting on tot turn a bright beautiful red. It I can keep the squirrels away I am planning on giving almost everyone I know a bowl of tomatoes. What a great plant, it will also be in next years garden.

Sugar Baby Watermelons: I still have 10-12 more days before I begin harvesting these champs of my garden. No muss no fuss, they have been growing strong and steady. I can not wait to try them. More of them to come in a future post.

So I had some ups and some downs, I am fighting to keeps the pumpkins alive and the pests out. I am feeling confident and will share my more as the fall arrives.   

Leave a Comment

Filed under Intro

Made in the U.S.A. Monday – Easy Garden BirdBlock

The Bride and I have two birds feeders, we love birds and we enjoy feeding them. We fill up our feeder several times a week, but that still doesn’t stop them from going after my freshly spread lawn seed! My bare spots on my lawn remain bare due to a dedicating and growing army of little bids that uncover my grass seed and eat it!

I am also a little concerned about my corn. meshSome of the sites that I have visited have suggested that birds will some time land on your corn and eat the upper kernels on the cob. This will simply not stand. I needed a solution and I found one in the form of Easy Garden Birdblock. This mesh netting is safe for the birds, affordable, and made in the USA. It very light so it won’t weigh down or crush your plants and it can be used over and over. 

This is good for crops, but I’ve also discovered that it could be good for lawns as well. Not only will the netting stop the birds from eating your seeds but it will provide a small amount of shading and could stop the newly forming grass from burning. 

Easy garden has been making ecofriendly, safe gardening products in the USA for over 25 years. You can find many of their products on Amazon including the BirdBlock for around $7 a tube.  A good investment, that will probably pay for itself in saved grass seed in its first year of use. 

Leave a Comment

Filed under Made in the USA