Sunday, February 27, 2011

The month's almost over!

Whew! I'm glad this month is almost over because I think it was harder to think of 28 people/companies to write to than it was to buy American. Ok, maybe not, but it was tough. I haven't posted recently because I've been super busy, but here's who received letters from me recently starting where I left off on my last post:
Feb 11- Lynn Allen, the most wonderful babysitter God ever created. She truly became a second mother to us and made Laurie and I members of her family. We love her!
Feb 12: The ReStore in Appleton. They sell new and used home supplies and proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity
Feb 13: American Pickers. Frankie and Mike entertain me every Monday night as they travel the country, picking treasures from people's barns and garages.
Feb 14: Josh Gracin, a great country singer who sings two of my favorite songs: Brass Bed and Endless, Helpless, Hoping. (Update: unfortunately, this letter was returned to me as "Not Deliverable to Address". I don't think the USPS tried hard enough to deliver it.)
Feb 15: Jim Caviezel, the actor who starred as Jesus in The Passion of the Christ. He is also in The Count of Monte Cristo and Frequency. Great actor and a morally upright example.
Feb 16: Lynn Austin, author of quite a few Christian historical novels I have been enjoying lately
Feb 17: Dyson Vacuums- I've never used a vacuum that works as well as my Dyson Animal. It was worth all the money I spent on it.
Feb 18: Pure Michigan, the tv and radio commercials with Tim Allen as the narrator talking about what a beautiful place Michigan is. Those commercials are the most beautiful poetry I've ever heard and they bring tears to my eyes!
Feb 19: Trek Bicycles- some are even made right here in Wisconsin! I bought my first Trek a couple years ago and have been extremely impressed with the quality of the bike
Feb 20: Hallmark Channel- I love love love their Hallmark movies and I love the Hallmark commercials they play during the movies. They both make me verklempt!
Feb 21: Hallman/Lindsay paint company- paint made in Sun Prairie, WI. I purchased it for the first time last summer and it's the best quality paint I've ever used!
Feb 22: Steve Martin- I love his cd The Crow that came out in 2009 with his banjo songs, and he's got another cd coming out it 2 weeks. I can't wait, and I wish I was as good as him at the banjo
Feb 23: Tempe Convention and Visitors Bureau: They recommended the beautiful hike that I took while on vacation and also recommended taking the Apache Trail, a 1 lane dirt road highway hanging precariously off the side of a cliff. It was awesome!
Feb 24: Whitecap Mountains: I went skiing there last month and the lift operators were so friendly that they really made the experience even more enjoyable!
Feb 25: Jacobs Meat Market, aka The Wiener-House-Store in Appleton. My family's been shopping there for years, and they are one of the last neighborhood grocery stores in town.
Feb 26: Steve Carell- I love him on The Office. He never fails to make me laugh!
Feb 27: General Mills- they make Fiber One cereal and granola bars, which keeps my colon happy.

Now, I'm sure you noticed the photo at the top of this post. I sent Bob Barker a letter back on Feb 7 telling him how I grew up watching The Price is Right and how the show wasn't over until he said "Have your pets spayed or neutered. Goodbye everybody!". I also told him how much I admired him for his contributions to the fight to save whales from Japanese whalers. I didn't ask him for anything in return, I simply told him I admired him. And he sent me a signed picture of himself! In case you can't read it, it says "To Andrea, Thank you for your lovely letter Bob Barker". I also thought it was neat because I didn't put my address in the letter, so he had to go through the trouble of saving the envelope and getting my address off it. So, even though my intention was never to receive anything from this month's challenge, it still made me feel good to get that nice picture!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Welcome back!

I haven't posted anything in a few days and I've just been terribly overwhelmed with people asking me, "Andrea, when can we expect your next witty blog post regarding your not-so-challenging-challenge of writing one letter per day?" And I say to those people, "Today. Today is the day."

On February 7th I wrote to Mr Bob Barker, telling him how much I admire his dedication to "Have your pets spayed or neutered". Maybe if my renters had watched the Price is Right they would have gotten their cats fixed and not let them pee all over my house. But I digress... I also told him how much I admire him for making a $5 million donation to the Sea Shepherds, which allowed them to buy a new ship last year to fight the Japanese whaling ships.

On February 8th, I wrote to my future husband, Mr Adam Richman from Man v. Food. I have to say that I always thought his name was Adam Richmond, so it's a good thing I looked it up before I wrote the letter. I told him that I really admire his appetite, his hilarious commentary, and his ability to ingest enormous amounts of food. I also shared with him the one food challenge I undertook in my life: I ate a Gilbert burger way back when Gilbert Brown was a Green Bay Packer. When I say I ate a Gilbert burger, I mean I ate the whole thing, while my "plus-size" uncle was unable to finish his! It was the finest food victory I've ever experienced.

On February 9th I wrote to Nicholas Sparks, the author of the majority of my favorite books. I told him I am able to tear through his books in just one day, as long as I have an entire box of Kleenex next to me. And it gives me some hope that romance exists, when I consider the tender words that he writes in each book.

Today, I wrote to New Balance shoe company. I had known for some time that they make shoes in America because Jason Schampers once told us, while we were sitting around a campfire up north, about how those are the only shoes he buys because they are made here. I had looked at the New Balance shoes in stores before but was never able to actually find any. I went to their website to look, and not only did I find the shoes but I found a very nice video showing some of the people who work in the American factories and talking about the company's dedication to their American workers. While browsing through the shoe selection, there is an actual tab right on the website where you can choose "Made in America" shoes or "Assembled in America" shoes. I found some that I really liked and bought them- and didn't even have to pay for shipping (through Feb 14)! So, in my letter today I told them how much I appreciate their dedication to American workers and I also told them that I was going to share with you, my faithful reader, how much I enjoy their shoes. I really do, too. Their shoes are well made and last forever, and come in great colors and styles. So, the next time you need walking, hiking, athletic or any type of athletic shoes, you should try New Balance shoes...and make sure you get the Made in America shoes! Here's the link, just to eliminate the work for you!

Tell them Andrea sent you. Just kidding. It'll take a few days for my letter to arrive, and they won't know who Andrea is until then;)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Don't I look hot in these goggles?

Today I wrote to Smith Optics, the company that made the ski goggles that Laura bought for me before my ski trip. I actually took some ribbing from my friends when they saw me whip out goggles at the ski hill. They couldn't fathom why I would need them (I guess they thought I'd be skiing really slow. Boy, were they wrong.) Anyway, in a funny twist of fate, 2 of my 3 friends ended up buying their own goggles at the pro shop by the time the ski weekend was over! I absolutely love the goggles I got. They're slightly orange tinted, so they really cut the glare from the sun. They protected my eyes during each and every one of the 41 spills that I took on the hills and kept my eyes nice and warm. I know that sounds dumb, but usually my eyes water so bad when it's windy out and I didn't experience any of that. And I honestly think that cut down on how much my nose was running too, although I still could have used the Snot Bucket my sister always said she was going to invent. Best of all, these goggles are made in America, so I had to send them a letter to let them know how important that is.

Yesterday I sent a letter to Janet Evanovich, a prolific writer whose most recognizable books are the Stephanie Plum series (One for the Money, Two for the Dough, Three to get Deadly, etc). I devoured all 14 of her novels after my neighbor Amber introduced me to them. They are about a woman who becomes a bounty hunter just to pay the bills and the incredible adventures and exploits she endures just to bring skips to justice. (Don't I sound professional? I've picked up a few things reading these books!) I was actually able to find a physical address to send a letter to, so that made me excited.

Just for the heck of it today I decided to type "Fan Mail Bob Barker" into Yahoo and see what came up, and sure enough, I found a website that gives addresses for many stars. I wasted so much time digging around the Discovery website looking for an address for Mike Rowe, and on the Travel Channel website looking for Adam Richman's address, and now I have them! Woo hoo! I am going to send an engagement ring to Adam Richman along with the letter and see what happens. I've always wanted to marry someone who can out-eat me, and believe me, there's not many out there who can!

Friday, February 4, 2011

You're a dirty man, Mike Rowe.

Yesterday I wrote to Schroeder's Department Store and shared with them the story of the the cute old lady who helped me find an American made birthday gift for my mother. Today I decided to write to Mike Rowe, the host of Dirty Jobs. I shared with him that I myself have a dirty job, but unfortunately he'd never be able to come work with me as I don't think we could find a patient who would agree to be filmed while puking or having their butt wiped. Oh well. I learned a little something that will come in handy during this letter writing campaign: movie stars/singers/authors/etc no longer have addresses listed on their websites for where you can send mail. They exclusively expect you to contact them over the internet, which is discouraging for those of us who are trying to reconnect with the ancient art of letter writing. The only address I was able to find for Mike Rowe after 45 minutes of searching was the address to which Eagle Scouts can send a self addressed stamped envelope and receive a signed letter from Mike in return, congratulating them on their honor. So, I addressed it to there. Hopefully someone will read it. I guess for the rest of my letters I'm better off sticking with businesses or places where I've already found the address in advance.

On a positive note, I discovered Mike's website, which is called It's entirely dedicated to Mike's conviction that we have to remove the stigma from pursuing a career in the type of occupations that make life livable- those jobs he portrays on the show, like septic tank cleaners, farmers, old mattress picker-uppers, etc. He goes on to say how America has become so focused on the idea of getting a nice, easy job in an office that we now look down on people who perform manual labor, when we actually NEED these workers to survive. It's really a very clever website, and completely crafted by Mike himself, so if you enjoy listening to his hilarious antics on tv, you will certainly like his website. And I'm sorry to say, Coren, but in all of my digging I found out that while Mike is still single, he states he is "off the market". I guess you'll just have to get your fill of him on Dirty Jobs, Lee commercials, Ford commercials, and After the Catch. Or stare at this nice picture I got of him from the Discovery website!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Uber Tanning Company, today's your day!

Today I wrote a complimentary letter to the Uber Tanning Company in Owatonna, MN. I purchased a pair of leather mittens at Scheel's made by them before my ski trip and they totally rocked! My hands were so warm and dry the whole weekend, which is rare for me because my hands and feet are always cold. Even when they were soaked and frozen from the significant amount of time I spent laying face-first on the snow hill, my fingers were toasty roasty! At $35, they cost more than I would typically spend for a pair of mittens, but in this case I feel that purchasing a quality product that was made in America was totally worth it! It's also nice to know that I'm supporting a business that has been operating since 1904 and is being run by a sixth generation leather tanner!

If you're looking for the finest quality leather gloves, mittens, vests, jackets or motorcycle gear, check out

I sound like a commercial. Too bad I don't get any kickbacks for the free advertising I'm doing here :) And for the record, the picture is of my frozen Uber mittens. Can you sense how tightly I was clinging to my ski poles and the ski lift?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Challenge #2 begins today!

I survived an entire month of buying products only made in our fine nation, and it was a challenge. I'm glad I did it though, because it definitely opened my eyes to how much stuff we import. Also, on items where I actually had a choice whether to purchase American or Chinese made, the products made in America are always of a better quality. And it feels really good to know I'm supporting my fellow citizens instead of someone halfway around the world. I would consider the month a success! I was even able to find my mom a cute shirt at Schroeder's in Two Rivers that was made in America, so she got her birthday gift after all. It was kinda funny because I told the woman working at Schroeder's that I was looking for something made in America, so she helped me search every rack in the entire store until we found a few things. Then, when I was still browsing another old woman came in looking for ankle socks and the woman working at Schroeder's said, "We have a nice selection of Wigwam socks back here, and they're made in America! That young lady at the front of the store is buying products only made in America, and I think that's something we should all do more of!" It was neat to know that I got the two old ladies thinking!

Today I began February's challenge: Write a complementary letter each day. To get started on the right foot, I purchased some nice stationary and pens (MADE IN AMERICA!) and sat down to write a letter this morning. The first person I wrote to is my friend Emily, who gave me a miniature trophy a year ago for being the "Most Adventurous" person at her house in Florida, because I was going crazy on the dirt course in their backyard on her ATV. I never considered myself to be adventurous, but receiving that little trophy planted a seed in my mind, and since then I've lived like I AM the most adventurous person. Including skiing with no helmet (this past weekend), and going to Charleston alone for a week last summer! I'm not expecting to see any feedback or get any mail back from this challenge, but if I did it would be fun. I just feel like there's too many people out there in the world who are tearing each other down, so I would do my small part to try to build people up without expecting anything in return. We'll see how it goes!