American Giant: 100% USA Made Hoodie & More

If you don’t already know, American Giant produces durable clothing using 100% USA materials and labor. USA made quality still means something to many around the world.

Because they also pay extreme care in designing their pieces, they dare to offer lifetime warranty for full price items.

I’m reviewing items I actually have tried or do wear.

Classic Full Zips Hoodie

My top pick!

  • 100% cotton
  • heavy weight
  • best for cool, dry spring/fall days
  • shape holding construction (no slouch look)
  • elbow patch that extends under the forearm
  • the hood doesn’t cling to your forehead and cover your eyes
  • these are not cheap but it will last a long time, being a Konmari convert, not buying junk also helps me save money and live green.

Essential Full Zips Hoodie

  • cheaper, lighter
  • Super soft material using Supima cotton and modal fiber (made from beechwood) mix
  • good for lounging around

100% Cotton Preiume T

american giant premium crew t long sleeve
It did not work for me, I returned it.

  • designed for slender, long shaped ladies
  • comfortable material but white was too see-through for my taste
  • my aunt love dark colored longsleeve ones for layering yet they are stylish enough for indoors without other layers.

Good to Know

  • Don’t Wait Too Long, Colors Changes Often!
  • Be sure to check the size chart, though most returns are honored but free return shipping do take a week or two.
  • Instead of exchanging items, they ask you to buy again and return the unwanted items.

American Giant Referral Coupon

amercian giant coupon

  • This refer a friend link saves new customer 15% on their first purchase and I get $15 for referring you.
  • These are so well made, it might be a long time before I get to use my rewards.

I hope you’ll enjoy your American Giant as much I do.

Books I Read 2017

In 2016, I read 3 more books than I did in 2015. Since I’ve complete my Konmari cleaning process, I hope I will have read even more than in 2016. Wish me luck!

  1. The Invisible Library (The Invisible Library Novel) by Genevieve Cogman
    [ This is the first fantasy book that was easy enough for me to read at normal speed. I love the writing style that fits both the story, the worlds, and the characters. There are a lot more to explore than just the plot, reading the 2nd book already. ]
  2. Dead, Bath, and Beyond (Victoria Square Mystery) by Lorraine Bartlett and Laurie Cass
    [ Katie, the owner of an arts and crafts collective shop, tried to solve the murder of her much hated ex-boss. Many suspects, interesting interpersonal interactions and dynamics. ]
  3. The Dangerous Ladies Affair (Book 5 of Carpenter and Quincannon Mystery) by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini
    [ Two detectives, two indivisual cases. One is a mystery of threat and murder. The other is the chase of the devious criminal. ]
  4. The Question of the Unfamiliar Husband (An Asperger’s Mystery 2) by E. J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen
    [ This is the better than book 1 and 3. I had a feeling who were involved in the murder but I didn’t expect the how and the mastermind. Fun read! ]
  5. The Question of the Missing Head (An Asperger’s Mystery 1) by E. J. Copperman and Jeff Cohen
    [ Samuel who turns his Asperger’s personality into a business of answering questions. Also highly recommand The Rosie Project for understanding more about Asperger’s. This book kept me guessing while enjoy the quarks and growth of Samuel. ]

USA Made Nano Cloth for Eco Cleaning – Spiff Cloth: Just Add Water

Cleaning after Konmari Process

Now that I’m Konmari Clean, it was time to put my things in their permanent homes and cleaning their new homes was the first step.

microfiber cleaning clothUsing the older style microfiber cloth was very frustrating. The small dust balls it gathers are very hard to wash off and surfaces often need more wiping. Even after I dusted with Swiffer, I still have trouble with it.

I started looking on Amazon for newer, greener technology. It seems Nano cloth is the talk of the town. It only needs water, not chemical, to use.

Made in USA

spiff cloth non-toxic cleaningThe top seller was not made in USA and I didn’t like that it has long fibers. I can just imagine the towel trapping all kinds of particles. The thicker material would dry slower after hand washing and would smell after a while.

Then I found the paper like Spiff Cloth, made in USA!

Amazing results on smooth surfaces

Just add water–it works! No chemical necessary.

Computer screen

cleaning monitor with Spiff Cloth

monitor1

monitor2

Stovetop

cleaning stove top with Spiff Clothcleaning stove top with Spiff Cloth

Not so good for

Sticky residue from strong tapes or thick old kitchen grimes (thin grimes are easy to wipe away without much elbow grease. See the before and after photo of my old stereo.)

cleaning stereo with Spiff Clothstereo1

What else do I like about it?

  • Easy to wash clean by hand (use soap and warm water)
  • Dries fast
  • Cut your own size (I cut the 16″x16″ sheet in half)
  • Sturdy (we’ve even cleaned outside windows with it, no damage to the cloth at all)

More to know

  • For maximun result, be sure to wring it as dry as you can
  • For thick dust layer, dusting or vaccumming before wiping makes it easier, faster
  • For soaking up spills, I recommend Trader Joe’s Kitchen Cloth at their stores for the best price. (also easy to wash clean by hand; if not found in one, try other Tader Joe’s.)
  • If it looks a bit dirty after washing, it still clean just fine.
  • Buy direct from Lawrence and Berit Hines
  • Or buy from Amazon

P. S. Want more USA made goods? See what else I actually use or shop at my Made in USA Amazon Store.

Oh So Soft! 100% USA Made Organic Cotton T-Shirt

The USA Made T-Shirt Search Requirements

  • made in USA, of course
  • traditional unisex cut, short sleeves
  • not too thin/see-through
  • not too long
  • not form fitting

SOS from Texas Is The Winner

SOS from Texas organic cottonNeeded to kiss a few t-shirt frogs before I found my t-shirt prince, do keep in mind that I am short and a little chubby.

  • American Apparel
    $18 each, can’t tell where their cotton/fabrics are from. Don’t think I’m their target consumer… I decided not to buy from them.
  • All American Clothing Co.
    $11.99 each, I believe the cotton/fabrics are from USA
    I bought both unisex and women’s plus few pairs of jeans (Can’t help it, they have petite length.) Thought the material is nice, the shirts don’t fit me right and too long for me. Kept the jeans, LOVE them! (not vanity sizing, be sure to consult their sizing chart)
  • American Giant
    $24.50 each, I believe the cotton/fabrics are all made in USA here, too.
    They are famous for their hoodies, I bought 1 hoodies and a few unisex and women’s t-shirts. Same fitting issues as before, the material for women’s premium t-shirt is lovely and fashionable but too see-through for me. I kept the hoody, LOVE this, too.
  • SOS from Texas <<< The Winner! >>>
      sos from texas organic unisex t shirt

    • $12.50 each. Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Good price and ORGANIC!
    • “From Dirt to Shirt”–Sold by the actual organic farmers
    • The fit is what I wanted/expected (like the blank t-shirt from the craft shops)
    • I kept all but one (I did expected the fit might not work), donated it to my local 100% volunteer thrift shop
    • Then I ordered long-sleeve t-shirts for the fall and winter

Softest T-Shirt I Have

When I first touched it, I knew I love it. The t-shirt has a cushiony feel, a different kind of soft from the Supima t-shirts on the market but SOS shirts feel so much better against the body.

For the softest, go with “Natural”

sos from texas organic long sleeves t shirtI’ve washed the natural (not bleached) shirts many times now, they still feel great. They told me these would shrink about 1/2 inch after first wash but they still work for me.

White shirt is the next softest. The colored shirts are closer to the white t-shirt out there.

Customer Service

I called SOS from Texas to get help on size and color. The lovely lady actually pulled and measured a t-shirt for me. You might not get them on the first try (I’m guessing it’s a smaller outfit then the others) but don’t give up, it’s worth it!

Return Rules

Their site mentioned “Items may be returned for refund if they have not been washed or worn. If returning for an exchange, please include $6.50 for return shipping.”

P. S. Want more USA made goods? See what else I actually use or shop at my Made in USA Amazon Store.

100% USA Made Supima Cotton Sheets – Authenticity 50

Cheaper Means Cheaper

Been buying sheets on sales at department and other stores. They were cheaper but some smelled, some had pills after one wash (i.e. not going to last long), some only had weak elastic on the corners of the fitted sheets. And of course, none of those were made in the USA.

One side effect of my “Konmari Cleanup” is to simplify my life, including owning fewer quality things that last a long time. That also means, reduce waste and be green!

Authenticity 50, 100% “seed-to-stitch” Made in USA

US made products still means quality and safety.

When I found Authenticity 50, I couldn’t believe it.

  • California Supima cotton:Supima cotton produces stronger and softer fabric.
  • Georgia spun yarn
  • Carolinas woven fabric
  • Family-own factory hand sewn sheets
  • Georgia made elastics
  • Even the duvet cover’s corner ties and buttons are made in USA!
  • (more details)

Trying It Out

 authenticity 50 packageTo test them out, I got the A50 Duvet Set because I never use the flat sheet anyway. (They come with 100-night sleep trial.)

Minimal Yet Sufficient Packaging

The set came in a plastic bag inside a sturdy paper bag (good for recuse/recycle). And from the condition it arrived in, you don’t need more packaging than this. And it translates to reduced cost and less enviornmental impact.

360 Degree Elastic

I love that the elastic for the fitted sheet is 360 degree, not just in the corners. The elastic is wider and thicker than the other ones I’ve had. You can feel the quality by holding it in your fist.

Using it, Loving it

Authenticity 50 fitted 360 degree elasticI’ve slept in them for a while now. The texture reminds me of the line-dried cloth. And there is no smell, too soft, too slippery issues.

I’ve also washed it a few times, still good as new, no pills. The 250 thread-count seems to mean more than the 300+ ones I had before.

I believe we are going to have a healthy long-term relationship.

Tips with Fitted Sheets

The fitted sheets made for 14″ pocket. But do remember to include the extra paddings you have on your mattress.

White Only!? Consider The Costs

Some reviewer wished for colored sheets but think of the extra cost and the problem of not being able to sell less popular colors. The founders want to provide quality sheets at reasonable prices, I totally support having only white sheets.

Besides, I found color sheets tend to take over the room. If you want color, decorate with colorful pillows or a small throw. It’s cheaper and easier to switch up your themes this way, too.

$15 Coupon with My Referral Link

Authenticity 50 couponTo help spread the words about Authenticity 50, use this $15 coupon link (and I get $15, too.)

Enjoy your new bedtime companion!

P. S. Want more USA made goods? See what else I actually use or shop at my Made in USA Amazon Store.

The First Time by Bernadette Pajer

Time travel + Jane Austin + mystery + history, seems an impossible combination but Pajer did it in The First Time.

My #1 Pick for 2016!

I couldn’t put down. I haven’t done that since the Harry Potter days. My urge to know what the main characters will do and if there will be a happily-ever-after overrode my biological needs. If I were a faster reader, I’d finish it in one shot.

Unlike many time travel tales, all the time-related rules/issues where intertwined with the story itself, not explained by breaking the flow of the story. (The other no-questions-left unanswered time-travel novels are Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis.)

I also like that there wasn’t any graphic scenes some romance novels have, it’s healthy to leave room for the imagination. Also, the ways Ivy and Harrison act and think (i.e. not jumping into bed the first chance they got) reinforces their backgrounds, eras, and personalities well.

Besides the romance, I learned some history of South Africa and what it would’ve been like in the early 1900s.

The story resolution was surprising and satisfying, no blazing time-travel story black holes.

If you like The First Time because of the science aspect, I also recommand her earlier works, Professor Bradshaw Mystery series. Bradshow is a professer of electrial engineering at the University of Washington in the early 1900s (when common folks didn’t know much about electricity). He investages many electricity related cases.

To Be KonMari Clean (Decoration: Vision Realized 3)

Quiet on the outside

From this picture, you see mostly solid colors and no small clusters of stuff. This create the visual tidiness like folding with Konmari method.

  1. This Aqua metal 5-drawer cabinet was the seed of my vision. I’ve always wanted one, now I have a good reason. When I saw the actual color in The Container Store, sparks of joy flew. I’m still happy every time I see it!

    But I needed two to hold up the stereo and other things (unknown at this point), so I ordered one in yellow, a color I also like.

    I also joined their POP membership to save on possible future purchases.

  2. konmari-ed: shelves vision realizedAt the bottom I need something strong to support everything on top. After measuring, searching, and comparing, I ended up with BESTA shelving frame from IKEA.

    To be honest, I wasn’t so sure about the white but the other two colors just shout blah. Once I put it in, it actually brightened things up just the right amount.

    By the way, a few weeks after I bought it, it went on sale. Being an IKEA Family member gave me a 90-day price protection. And I got $8 back from my IKEA store.

  3. While waiting form my metal cabinets, I kept visiting The Container Store just for fun. By accident, I wondered to the clearance rack, saw a bit of yellow that matched the cabinet peaking out of an discountinued item for $13.

    When I opened it, it was a metal storage cube I had considered but thought it was too expensive. Right then, another part of the vision puzzle fell into place.

    I bought it then ordered a white one to help support the shelving plank above it. FYI, the doors and inside shelves come separately!

  4. Free shelf covers! These are actually packaging lids for the 5-drawer metal cabinets. They are effective in hiding the “noisy” contents thought they don’t cover the whole opening. However, that’s what makes them easy to remove. I thought making something wider myself but none would look as nice.

I’ve this arrangment for 3 months now and haven’t changed a thing.

Party on the inside

konmari-ed organizing office suppliesFrom the pictures, you can see that I wanted color inside the drawers. This way I get the burst of color joy only when I open the drawers, as I prefer visual tranquility most of the time.

Looking inside drawer 2, you see the turquoise and white trays are lined. I used the color paper I have on hand to add vibrance and protection to the trays.

I also carry the idea to other drawers. Each drawer, according to its contents get a different treatment. Keep in mind that I also made my own insert when I did not like anything fitting on the market.

Function + form = spark of joy

konmari-ed organizing office suppliesWhat makes me smile other then all the colors in my drawers? Everything is where they should be.

Drawer 2 holds the most used items. I might have use drawer 1 but it doesn’t like to be opened all the way, even after I fixed the inside structure. And after months of using it, I realized drawer 2 is at the perfect height.

So, as you put your items in order, remember your sprak will go away if it’s a pain to use.

Do I have enough pens and pencils?

Once you are Konmari Clean, you can save money and avoid new clutter. As you see in my drawers that it’s obvious that I don’t ever need to buy more pen and pencil. And that’s the whole point of working by categories.

(Re)Locate with logic

Consider these with storage containers, cabinets, and individual items alike:

  • Keep these near where they were before? Is there another location that would be more efficient?
  • How often will you use it? Think ease of access.
  • Are these items where you might be looking if you don’t really remember exactly?

Officially Konmari Clean

One last thing, I do have a deal-with-it-later shelf but it’s obvious enough I won’t forget it and not prominent enough to bother me.

Oh, one more last thing, less stuff = easier to clean = clean more often.

I believe, as Marie promised, I don’t think I will ever clog up my space again.

To Be KonMari Clean (Decoration: Vision Realized 2)

Visual tidiness = tranquility

What’s the point of all the KonMari work? Why fold and store clothing Konmari way? I first tried folding things my way then her way, the difference–much lower visual noise.

I was amazed how well visual tidiness brings tranquility to my life. I am more relaxed when I am in my room and in general. Then I applied the same principle to other categories.

Window shopping = energy to go on

Again, this started with my vision of a tidy built-in bookshelf. I didn’t know the exact items to buy but I know how they must work:

  • Must be able to hold heaver weight. The tiny stubs can’t hold much more than the shelf planks, not useful.
  • Must hold all I kept after Konmari sorting–mostly items from this bookshelf and the meditation corner (formally the clutter blackhole).
  • Must have colors that brings me joy.

konmari-ed shelving, storage visionIt was 5 months into the process, since I needed a break, I measured my shelf, armed with a tape measure, then visited various stores and web site for inspiration. Boy, that was fun and productive. Building this vision also pumped me up to finish the office supplies and smalls categories.

Then it was finally time to make my vision come true. (See the continuing post)

To Be KonMari Clean (Decoration: Vision Realized 1)

Vision that sparked action

If you read Marie’s first book, you know before you even sort a thing, you must envision the end result.

Mine was simple–have a meditation corner in my room, perhaps with a comfy chair. And if I have the desire and energy, I will put up my own oversized Zentangle art in turquoise blue, black, and white.

That vision powered me through to the end of the Konmari process. And trust me, this end vision is crucial to the process, even if the vision might change on the way, and the end result might be different.

Vision is not carved in stone

After 7 months of tidying up, I got my clean corner.

sprout toy boxesSorry, no before picture, all I cared at the time was getting rid of the corner clutter–dusty black metal shelves, an IKEA double hamper, and a bunch of this-might-com-in-handy-someday stuff. Trust me, no one needs to see that.

I also swapped out the comfy chair idea with two Made In USA toy chests because:

  • A decent comfy chair is expensive
  • The chair is bulky and permanent
  • I wanted something modern with clean lines

Instead, I bought some yoga gears on sale to fulfill the vision of the meditation corner.

sprout toy chestOne of the toy chests you see here holds those gears, the other holds my backpack and cloth I’ve already worn but not ready to wash. Once I put the lids down, no loose items, no visual noise.

This works so much better for me than my original vision.

Tips on vision and decorating

  • Figure out the essence of your original vision. In my case, I just wanted my own quiet, uncluttered space.
  • Be flexible and creative. Would following your original idea really spark joy? If not, look around, get ideas, change it. To suit my needs, I often find myself using/buying things that have different original purposes.
  • Be okay to wait and buy what you need. Only after I knew what I need to make a new home for the items in each category, I start looking for their “home”, starting with what you already have. If that doesn’t spark any joy, then start searching to buy.
  • To save money, use the boxes and trays you are not using/recycling for organizing things that will be inside drawers or closets. The point is to have a clean visual environment.
  • Listen to your inner voice–“Yes, this definitely sparks my joy”

More on the Sprout toy chests

  • If you put it next to a wall, you can prop up the lid as if there were hinges.
  • I used a plastic container (and I managed to sneak turquoise blue in there) to separate my backpack from my clothing since it’s more dirty.
  • sprout toy box greenFor assembly, it’s easier to have 2 people and a rubber mallet (I folded corrugated cardboard into a thick stack and used that with a regular hammer). And if you are a perfectionist, a level would be great, too.
  • Once assemble correctly, they are very sturdy.
  • The toy box come in many colors.
  • Sprout uses safe and recycled material. 100% Made In USA, from design to manufacturing. They offer good variety of kid’s furniture.

Eco Drain, Septic Cleaner That Works: PlumbClear

mesh drain coverBeen bothered by the slow draining issue for our bathtub for a while.

We’ve always used an extra mesh catch (very cheap with varies sizes at Daiso stores, place it upside down for bathtubs.) to stop hair and junk from getting into the pipes but tiny things that got down there do accumulate.

Chemical, homemade, or eco ready-made?

During my research, I learned that some plumbers don’t like the chemical solutions because they create particles that are harmful to your septic tank.

plumbclearThen I read some homemade solutions but didn’t trust them because how varied and inconsistant they are. I wanted something that just works and not having to spend time testing all the formulas and run the risk of clogging up the pipes.

When I found this eco drain, septic cleaner, Plumb Clear, on Amazon.com, I didn’t believe it will work well like many eco-friendly products. Since the reviews were so positive and it’s made in USA, I bought it anyway.

Since I wasn’t expecting much, I didn’t video my experiment. And I trust you’d understand that I won’t wait for my pipe to clog up again to record that it works.

First try with AMAZING result

After reading the instructions, I used the [Septic Tank ratio]–2 scoops with 2 cups of warm water, waited 2-4 hours as asked. Then I accidentally spilled it into the tub, only some got into the drain. I didn’t want to leave any solution in the tub so I rinsed the tub right away.

At this point, I thought, it’s not going to work, I washed it away. That night when I took a shower, I was amazed how well it drained.

Second try with a toilet

For this slow draining toilet, I used the [Septic/Drains ratio]–2 scoops with 5 cups of water. I wanted to make sure the enzyme and friendly bacteria had a chance to eat the built-up in the outlet path of the toilet so I dump 1 cup of the solution into the toilet bowl without flushing for an hour.

When I finally flashed it, it drained so quickly. I was very happy!

Tricks and Tips

  • sportsBottleWhen you first open the container, you need to fish out the scoop and the plastic snake.
  • To help you mix the solution and apply with more precision:
    1. Find an old sports bottle similar to this (the point is to not spend any money while using something that’s just taking up space)
    2. Measure and draw the lines at 1 cup increments, this allows you adjust the mix to only the volume needed.
    3. IMPORTANT!!! Remember to also mark the bottle “NOT FOR DRINKING”.
  • Don’t wait too long to clean the pipes. According to the seller, Alson Enterprises, it works not as well for fully clogged pipe. The solution needs to come in contact with the organic built-up to digest the gunk in the pipes.
  • For the opening of the sink/tub drain, pull the stopper, pour in the solution (I used the more diluted ratio) until it overflows a little, let it sit for a while (I waited 15 minutes), then unstop it.