1965 was a memorable year.  Kellogg’s introduced Apple Jacks, the Gateway Arch in St. Louis was completed, the first Porsche 912 was produced and George Barris was commissioned to build the Batmobile for ABC's upcoming Batman TV series. And in Palo Alto, CA, a psychedelic revolution was beginning.

It was the year that Jerry Garcia purchased a banjo at a local music store and met Bill Kreutzman. The two connected – and soon Jerry was working at the store selling instruments and teaching guitar lessons. One of Jerry’s student’s was 16-year old Bob Weir.  Jerry and Bob became good friends and soon Bill, Jerry and Bob formed a band. Needing a vocalist, they added 15-year old Ron McKernan, aka ‘Pig Pen to the group. Playing mostly folk and bluegrass music, the four of them called themselves the Warlocks. Soon after, Phil Lesh was added to the band.

When the guys realized that there was already a band called the Warlocks, they went in search of another name – and settled on the Grateful Dead. Living in a communal house, they were considered the leaders on the hippie movement and built a large following of ‘deadheads’ by giving free concerts.

The group's mission as voiced by Jerry Garcia, "We're trying to make music in such a way that it doesn't have a message for anybody. We don't have anything to tell anybody. We don't want to change anybody. We want people to have the chance to feel a little better. That's the absolute most we want to do with our music. The music that we make is an act of love and act of joy…we're not telling [anybody] to go get stoned, or drop out…. We are trying to make things groovier for everybody so more people can feel better more often, to advance the trip, to get higher – however you want to say it – but we're musicians and there's just no way to put the idea 'save the world' into music."

The band never had a number one hit, but Casey Jones, Truckin and Touch of Grey rank in their top 10.

           

In 2015, in recognition of the band’s 50th anniversary, four original Grateful Dead members – Mickey Hart (joined as the band’s drummer in 1967), Bill Kreutzmann, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir – will reunite one final time at Chicago’s Soldier Field on July 3, 4, and 5th.  The date is nearly 20 years to the day of their last concert which took place at the same venue. This will mark the original member’s last-ever performance together.

Any way you look at it, you just have to feel grateful.

Keeping Watch.  Pat

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America is known as the land of opportunity. In the 1800’s, many Europeans traveled to America by sea, risking everything they had in hope for a brighter future. These hard-working immigrants were determined to build their legacy in the new country. 

One of the early German settlers planted roots in Pottsville, Pennsylvania. His name was David G. Yuengling. In 1829 David established a brewery that has continued to be passed down through the generations. David partnered with his son, Frederick, who eventually passed the company onto his son Frank. When Frank passed, his son’s Richard L and F. Dohrman took over and in 1985, 5th generation ‘Dick’ Yuengling, Jr. bought the company from his father. The brewery continues to be family-owned and operated – it’s just that today the ‘family’ has expanded in facilities, locations and brands. 

          

Yuengling currently has three locations: 2 in Pottsville and 1 in Tampa, FL. And their products are distributed in 18 statesYuengling is listed on the national and state registers as America’s oldest brewery – and in 2012 the Company became America’s largest US-owned brewery. Brands include premiums, dark, craft, lights and lager beer. And Dick Jr’s, four daughters, Wendy, Jennifer, Debbie and Sheryl are full-time members of the Yuengling staff.  All because one man was brave enough to take a trip across the ocean.

Recently, the Brewers Association listed the top 50 US craft brewing companies of 2014. You guessed it – Yuengling was named number 1! For the first time ever, craft brewers reached double-digit volume share of the marketplace in 2014 with anticipated 20% market share by 2020. 

                     

Beer is the world’s most widely consumed alcoholic beverage – following water and tea, it is the third most popular drink overall. There’s an art to making, pouring and enjoying beer. And we’re grateful to be part of another American-made story.

Keeping Watch.  Pat

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At some point in life, it seems like almost everyone wants to make a fresh start. The Marquette Food Co-op located in Upper Michigan makes freshness easy; they offer shoppers one-stop access to fresh organic and wholesome foods.

According to LocalHarvest, much of the produce grown in the US is picked 4-7 days prior to being placed on the store shelf. During its journey, the harvest travels an average of 1,500 miles and that’s without the consideration of imported produce.  It’s why shop local has become so popular across the country.

The Marquette Food Co-op helps owners, customers and local communities have access to garden-fresh products with higher nutritional values. The co-op can’t exist without members. Members are ‘owners’ and everyone is eligible to join.

Owners receive store discounts, get potluck invites, vote on co-op issues and attend educational workshops hosted by the Co-op – and everyone has access to fresh produce grown without synthetic chemicals, herbicides or pesticides. They can also purchase dry goods in bulk and other time-tested favorites including cheese, soups, breads, coffee beans, beer and wine. Shoppers are encouraged to bring their own reusable containers and shopping bags.

In 2009, the Co-op partnered with Northern Michigan University and other sponsors to help farmers and the greater community, learn more about sustainable practices and using ‘hoop houses’ to extend the growing season in a northern climate.

                  

The Marquette Food Co-op shoppers also have access to a general merchandise area that features locally and globally crafted items – including organic seeds to start your spring garden and Sunset Hill Stoneware mugs to enjoy while watching your seedlings grow.  It’s never too late to start fresh.

Keeping watch. Pat

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America is filled with hidden treasures. One of those gems can be found at the end of an adventurous drive along Luce County Road CR-412, which has been described as nothing more than a groomed sand trail. As you progress along, the trail becomes progressively narrower and increasingly twisty. In fact, one almost wants to turn around but there is no room to leave the path. And at the end of this desolate drive, you arrive at a sandy beach that beckons you to walk toward the light.

The light is Crisp Point Light Station. In 1876 Crisp Point was originally the site of the Life Saving Station Number Ten, one of four that were put into operation that year located along the south shore of Lake Superior, in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. It was named after one of the station’s keepers, Christopher Crisp. In 1903 the white 58’ conical lighthouse was constructed and in 1904 it became operational.

                             

Through the years, the lighthouse and life-saving station has undergone massive damage due the erosion of Lake Superior’s shoreline. In 1965 the US Coast Guard destroyed all remaining Life Saving and Lighthouse Station buildings leaving only the lighthouse and its attached Service building. During a fierce November 1996 storm, the attached service building was lost due to this erosion. Also, along this area, known as “the Shipwreck Coast’, the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank during a violent November 10, 1975 storm about 17 miles northeast of Crisp Point.

In an effort to preserve this amazing light, the Crisp Point Light Historical Society was formed in 1992 to save, restore and operate the lighthouse. Under the Societies direction, they have implemented extensive erosion control, rebuilt the lighthouse’s service building and rebuilt a new visitor’s center. With these and many other restoration projects, the lighthouse is returning to pristine condition.

        

The Crisp Point Lighthouse will continue to shine for generations to come with continued support from society members and the general public. Each year, Historical Society volunteers sign up to be ‘keepers’ at the lighthouse from mid-May through the middle of October. These keepers open the lighthouse and visitor’s center daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. although some keepers will keep the tower and visitor’s center open longer for late arrivals.

                  

The solitude, tranquility felt at the light is irreplaceable as you stand memorized by the waves rolling into the shoreline. We thank the passionate stewards who keep watch and preserve the best of America – and we are grateful to be part of their rebuilding process.

Keeping Watch. Pat

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Winter in Wisconsin can be cold, long and drawn out, but it’s not the season I want to discuss; I’m referring to a man – Blaise Winter. Blaise was drafted into the NFL in 1984. He played 11 seasons, playing for the Indianapolis Colts, the Green Bay Packers, and the San Diego Chargers. He’s a champion, but probably not for the reasons you imagine.

Blaise grew up in New York. He was born with a cleft palate, had a hearing loss in one ear and a speech impediment due to his facial deformity. He underwent multiple surgeries as a child, was bullied, beat up, spit on and harassed in middle school and eventually found solace in sports. He was never the best athlete, but he gained confidence through martial arts and sports where performance, not words, mattered.

Today Blaise is a family man and is nationally recognized as an inspirational speaker and expert in the field of hand combat for football. He has an unwavering work ethic and passion that motivates and empowers future players with his hand combat techniques that make players more efficient and the game safer.

                               

In 2013, Blaise Winter was recognized as a HearStrong Champion by the HearStrong Foundation and the Green Bay Packers organizations. More recently Blaise spent time in Neenah at a Beaming, Inc. event. Beaming was founded in 2004 and enhances the quality of life for people with special needs by developing relationships between people and horses. It was at Beaming’s fundraiser, that Blaise received a set of champion Vince Lombardi SHS mugs. Handmade for a lifetime champion.

Keeping watch. Pat

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If you want to celebrate Fat Tuesday there’s no place like the French Quarter of New Orleans. Every year, partygoers flock to the City to take in floats, festivities and food during Mardi Gras, while leaving their mark on The Big Easy.

When there, you need to step away from the historic Canal Street in the French Quarter to find a place called Deuce McAllister’s Ole Saint Kitchen & Tap. It’s there where the kitchen specializes in southern coastal cuisine and the tap room offers more than 50 local and national draught beers. And while the décor embraces the spirit of the City, it’s also where you’ll find memorabilia of Deuce McAllister’s career with the New Orleans Saints.

Deuce McAllister is a legendary football player; he played for Ole Miss and the New Orleans Saints. He was drafted by the Saints in the first round of the 2001 NFL Draft. He became the starting running back and rushed for more than 1,000 yards in three straight seasons; you can say he was a fan favorite. What’s interesting is Deuce’s offensive coach at the time was Mike McCarthy.  

        

During the 6 seasons that McCarthy was with the Saints, Mike was credited for the successfully developing the talent of Deuce. In 2005, McCarthy became the coach of the Green Bay Packers. Ironically, it was McAllister who set the all-time rushing touchdown record for the New Orleans Saints with a score against the Green Bay Packers on November 24, 2008.  Being a Packer fan, I won’t post the score, but I can say that Deuce is still scoring big in New Orleans – and we’re glad to be a part of it. Let the good times roll!

Keeping watch.  Pat

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It’s easy to immerse yourself in the incredible story of Walt Disney – especially when you’re visiting the Walt Disney Family Museum. The museum is owned, operated and funded by the Walt Disney Family Foundation. It’s a non-profit organization established by Walt’s heirs including his daughter, Diane Disney Miller.

Located in The Presidio of San Francisco, the museum’s historic buildings once served as the U.S. Army’s premier West Coast base. Today the two buildings have been beautifully remodeled allowing for 21st century innovation inside while preserving the exterior appearance of the original buildings. The original 1890’s army barracks houses the lobby, café, porch and theater, while the military post’s 1904 gymnasium houses the Diane Disney Miller Exhibition Hall.

Inside the hall, the Museum’s galleries walk you through Walt’s life – from growing up on a failing Missouri farm, to delivering papers to creating cartoons for his high school yearbook. By the time Walt was 23 years old, Mickey Mouse was born – and the rest of his story is a historical record and gift of animation, innovation and inspiration.

          

A local friend and self-proclaimed selfie extraordinaire, we thank Tim Bergstrom, for sharing photos from his recent visit. At the museum, you’ll find stunning Hollywood Walk of Fame stoneware mugs, along with Mickey Mouse and Walt’s Train.  (and yes, Mickey always seems to be sold out – can't keep enough of those in stock!)

           

Years ago, the magic began in front of the TV on Sunday nights watching The Walt Disney Wonderful World of Color. Today we thank the Disney family for keeping Walt's legacy alive.

Keeping watch.  Pat

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Titan Gilroy is a fighter – and passionate about America.  His upbringing wasn’t so great.  It was filled with violence, alcoholism and getting expelled from school. He even did a stint in prison. Titan learned something important from his experiences: that it’s never too late to change your life.

And change his life he did.  He took his experiences and started to rebuild his life with a new business called Titan America.  Located north of Sacramento, CA, in the small town of Grass Valley, the company specializes in CNC machining – using computers to control machine tools. He employs machine experts to build parts for American companies – and this year he’s broadcasting his expertise on new MAVTV reality show called ‘TITAN American Built.’

                         

The hour-long show showcases U.S. manufacturing – every week featuring a different company.  The 13-week lineup includes night vision scopes for the military, boat parts, fitness and another week focused on rocket parts. Titan created the concept for the show and personally writes the scripts. He’s devoted his life to inspiring others and changing America by delivering an affordable, quality product, on time – every time.

                         

American made – like Sunset Hill Stoneware mugs and coasters.  On sale – today only!

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Georgetown is a historic neighborhood and entertainment district located in northwest Washington, D.C.  Located along the Potomac River, it is home to the main campus of Georgetown University and numerous other landmarks – including Martin’s Tavern.

Martin’s Tavern is a well-known Washington D.C. landmark established in 1933 during the midst of the Great Depression. Throughout time, the warm atmosphere of Martin’s has served locals, along with high-ranking governmental officials. 

In fact, the history of Martin’s Tavern is rich in hospitality and entertainment. Every U.S. president from Harry S. Truman to George W. Bush has stopped at the legendary landmark.

                              

Rumor has it that John F. Kennedy had a regular booth there – and that he proposed to Jacqueline Bouvier in booth #3, while Richard Nixon ate his favorite dish of meatloaf in booth #2.  George W. Bush and family resided at Table 12. And it was the gathering place for local jocks like Mickey Mantle and Ty Cobb who chugged late-night beers and celebrated Yankee wins in the backroom fondly called the Dugout.

Four generations of Martins have owned and operated the iconic pub – William S, William G, William A – and now Billy Martin, Jr.  Billy’s grandfather – William G. Martin played baseball for the Miracle Braves of 1914 and World Series Champions, lived life to the fullest and was the life of every party. Billy’s father was a Golden Glove boxing champion at Georgetown University and played golf on the Pro-Am circuit during the 1950’s. 

                             

Today Billy Martin, Jr. continues the 80-year old tradition of running Washington’s oldest family-owned restaurant with top notch food where sports, politics and Martini’s still flow freely. Only difference is now you can enjoy draft and local craft beers in Sunset Hill Stoneware.

Keeping Watch.  Pat

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After a nice comeback rally yesterday from America’s favorite NFL team, coach Mike McCarthy from the Green Bay Packers stated "It's a game of adversity. It's a game of momentum swings. It's a game of big plays. We were in a spot, but our players stayed the course."

That quote is a little bit more subtle than Vince Lombardi’s shout out of “What the hell’s going on out here?.” 

Vince Lombardi’s football knowledge and coaching skills are legendary – and the wisdom he conveyed to his players is priceless advice that is used today across the country to inspire and motivate teams on football fields, during sales meetings and in boardrooms. 

We are honored to work with the Vince Lombardi family to recognize this NFL icon. You’ll find timeless Lombardi quotes and portraits set in stone(ware).  Purchase pieces that are in stock and ready to purchase - or design your own.

                       

These pieces are attractive, functional and timeless – just like the great Vince Lombardi.

Until next time.  Tom

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