Momma Told Me: November 2011

Blog Archive

Manitobah Mukluks: Aboriginal Authentic Footwear US/CAN Giveaway and Review~ 12/4

Momma Told Me:
Don't go messing up your new shoes!

As a child one of our first reactions to a new piece of clothing is to show it off. If the article in question just happens to be a new pair of shoes, chances are we're enamored and will refuse to take them off, even for bed. I had a friend who felt this way about her hot pink rain boots, in the 3rd grade, and recall she wore them for months on end with pride. In our house, we typically went shoe shopping once a year, right before the new school year, or when my feet seemed to magically outgrow the last pair. Because of the rarity of this event, I was always especially proud of my new 'kicks', which had a tendency of being white in hue. I'd, never fail, to find the muddiest patch of our school lawn and kick up enough dirt and mud to bring them home in a different color. Momma, furious as she scrubbed them in the sink, would warn me she wouldn't be 'buying another pair' when these looked like they'd been through a marathon in just a week. I'd scrunch up my nose in disagreement, as my shoulders fell back, and whine, "But MOM, shoes are supposed to be worn!"
Little did I know, just 10 years later, ofter shelling out over $100 of my own hard earned bucks for a pair of shoes I'd only wear a handful of times, that this finicky footwear obsession would be passed down. Isn't it funny how much money and attention we put into fashion for articles which originally were designed for function and wear? I hardly see the North American natives gathered around the fire discussing how their newest moccasins required an extra glass bead for panache. In fact, the Canadian Metis utilized every aspect of their lives to not only be efficiently functional under extreme lifestyles and elements, but to celebrate the people's history and ancestors. And their deep respect for the land, and it's inhabitants, lead to an efficiently irreverent lifestyle rich in comfort and tradition. One such vital aspect of these people was the introduction of an active fur trade.

With origins as far back as the 1630 fur trade establishment, the Metis founded a strong relationship for handmade fur based clothing and shoes, with local settlers and Aborigines. When Manitobah became a part of the Canadian provinces in 1870 Metis artisans learned to spread their handmade goods in an effort to solidify relations and important relationships outside their tribe. Today, in the same spirit, the 1990 based Manitobah Mukluk's brand fosters lasting opportunities for Metis tribe elders, through the commercial integration of authentic materials and designs. While each and every elegant pair of authentic Mukluks are instantly captivating, the story of these shoes continues far past fur and tread, to their very soles. Mukluks are build to be functioning art. Though you may never feel quite comfortable trekking through snowy drifts and backwoods in such masterpieces, Manitobah has designed them to be as flawlessly functional (and comfortable) as the people which inspired them.

Beginning with a highly durable, and technically devised, Vibram sole, each pair of Mukluks is visually engaging and functional. As the leader in high performance, rubber based, soles, Vibram is the perfect translation of authentically rugged wear and city ready elegance. Their durable, low profile, sole is the perfect canvas for the Aboriginal story, which appears in 2 forms across the collections; TIPI and TURTLE. While Momma recently reviewed the Manitobah NAPPA Mukluks, I received a pair of (SZ 11) Women's Tall wrap, in Charcoal, for feature during Christmas Wishes. As it turns out, I had received my pair prior to Momma and quickly 'phoned' ahead to anxiously share my first impressions. When I had initially shopped the brand I was advised that, despite the size range cutting off at 11 (women's), the fit ran on the larger end and was most appropriate for feet like mine.

What had arrived at my doorstep was an elegant Black and White Manitobah box, housing a complete Certificate of Authenticity. This piece of 'paper' not only serves as a proof of purchase for the discerning consumer, but outlines the brand's connection with Aboriginal-owned companies. In addition to the stockholding and partnership program, Manitobah extends their friendship with the Aborigines through authentically inspired design, with in-house artists of native descent. You'll find everything from the soles, to the hand laid bead work, is carefully consulted with ties in tradition and purpose. And, if you don't see something 'authentic' enough for your tastes, their artist, Dorothy Grieves will design a commissioned pair of one-of-a-kind Storyboots, through special order.

If you're unaware of the company's roots it might be natural to overlook the treads' story upon first glance. So artistically woven into the very soles of these shoes, are the traditions, trademarks, and stories of Aboriginal people. The TIPI soles showcase the Sky, with it's life giving water from rain and snow, Western Mountains, Woodland People, and progression of modern hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Fire at the base symbolizes the perseverance of the native people, and the Swirling Four Winds, the cleansing as the Sun circles our Earth. While the Mukluks and Moccasins are designed for consumer intent, those looking to have a more personal and impactful connection to the Aboriginal people can commission Manitobah's Edna Nabess designed Storyboots. Storyboots are truly one of a kind works of art made from authentic materials by hand.

Available in Tall and Short, the Charcoal Wrap Mukluk is a very rustic, and authentic, visual expression of nomadic footwear. Manufactured in Chocolate, Charcoal, Black, and Olive, these Cowhide Suede, and Rabbit Fur boots feature an ultra plush (and insulating) Sheepskin Shearling lining that gives the effect of walking on air. Surprisingly, the Vibram soles are incredibly flexible in walking and movement as well. The company suggests sizing down 1 entire size when ordering, and as a natural 12, I was glad to find these (11s) fit quite well in the foot. However, the Tall Wrap has a tie up assembly, which seems to be less kind on my toned calves. While the wrap itself closes to the seams, they're best worn over jeans or leggings for a more casual look. I should also note here that Manitobah does make every effort to work with sizing (as far as stock, or custom order) for those outside the current selection options.

Some may be mortified to find I chose to take my Charcoal Tall Wrap Manitobah Mukluks to the local beach; but I desired a more natural footwear experience. After all, the Aboriginals wear their second skin footwear through extreme conditions and through long days. In honesty, I can't blame them, they're impressively comfortable! I am typically not a fur person, and often go the Vegan route, but the authenticity of Aboriginal design and practice, coupled with the ethical luxury is a very strong argument for Manitobah elegance. I love the casual tie up wear, and the minute details of beauty (such as the beaded accents and pops of turquoise). Mukluks are truly the perfect surprise for any discerning recipient on your list this holiday season!

What Daughter Says: Mukluks will withstand daily wear with durability and rugged elegance. They're the story of an entire people, and the pride of any footwear collection!

One very lucky Momma Told Me follower will win a pair of Manitobah Mukluks of choice (SRV up to $389)!

Pfaltzgraff’s "Pistoulet" Dinnerware Set - (40 Piece) Giveaway and Review~ 11/22

Did you know that Pfaltzgraff is celebrating its 200th Anniversary this year? For that reason; this review is going to be a little different than my normal (witty) delivery of information. The Pfaltzgraff history is such a great example of shear human determination and a strong sense of purpose; that I feel it needs to be shared. How many of us can say that we are a part of something that has withstood the test of time, adapted to current consumer needs and lasted 200 years? In an effort to promote this strong, human spirit; I am going to try and do justice to the rich history of Pfaltzgraff.

In May of 1833 Johann George Pfaltzgraff and his wife, Helwig Elenora (German Immigrants) boarded a ship heading for America armed with a dream to establish his own pottery business. Four long months later, they landed in Baltimore, MD. Johann and Helwig were not the first of the Pfaltzgraff family to reside in the U.S. They did have a relative, living in York County, PA., whose name was George Pfaltzgraff. It is George who is cited for already having, established his own pottery company back in 1811 (thus the 200th Anniversary).

Moving things forward a bit; in 1835 Johann moved to Conewago Township where he owned a small pottery which produced crocks, jugs and jars for food storage. Then in 1848 Johann moved his family to Foustown, PA in order to expand his small pottery business. It is noted; the 1870 Manufacturer’s Census reported that Pfaltzgraff and Son Pottery” had produced a, whopping, $1000 worth of pottery! That was an astounding figure for the times. Sadly, in 1873, Johann George Pfaltzgraff died. His three eldest sons, John B., George B., and Henry B., are the ones responsible for carrying on the family’s legacy.

In 1906, what was then known as the “Pfaltzgraff Stoneware Company,” was nearly destroyed by a fire. It is thought that a disgruntled employee started the blaze. After rebuilding the factory in its new location (West York, PA), it was re-opened and named “The Pfaltzgraff Pottery Company” which was known for its clay flower pots, and even liquor jugs. Due to Prohibition; their liquor jug business had to be transitioned into providing their jugs for “home use only”.

Fun Fact: Did you know that the “Anti Saloon League”, founded in 1893 (Oberlin, Ohio) then relocated to my (now hometown of Westerville, Ohio) was primarily responsible for the beginning of Prohibition? In 1913, in a 20th anniversary convention held in Columbus, Ohio, the League announced its campaign to achieve national prohibition through a constitutional amendment.

It wasn’t until 1964 that the company dropped the word “Pottery” from its name and became; what it is known as today, simply “The Pfaltzgraff Company”. In 1988 the Pfaltzgraff Company began producing bone china, and as they would say, “the rest is history”. We all know the name. Now; we also know a little bit more about how it came to be.

Today; the Pfaltzgraff Company is owned by Lifetime Brands, a formidable company in its own right. “In order to celebrate the Pfaltzgraff Bicentennial, Lifetime Brands has reissued two popular designs – Heritage and Yorktowne – in 32-piece anniversary sets. Pfaltzgraff has now even set up a Facebook page; so you can check out what’s new, including the place setting featured in this review. The design we are reviewing is the Pistoulet Line which was debuted in 2002. In my opinion; all of their designs are beautiful and functional. I would be proud to have any of the Pfaltzgraff sets in my home. They offer such diversity in styles; there should be a set that fits everyone’s unique style and décor.

For purposes of conducting this product review; I am the proud recipient of Pfaltzgraff’s Pistoulet Dinnerware Set (40 pieces). The MSRP for this set is $568.00. It is now on sale for only $249.99 right on their website. This set of dinnerware, serveware and accessories are offered in two, distinct, color schemes. Each place setting includes: a 10-3/4” dia. Dinner Plate, 9” dia. Salad Plate, 28oz. Soup/Cereal Bowl, 14oz. Mug and an 8oz. Dessert Bowl. The pieces are all dishwasher and microwave safe.

This is an elegant dinnerware set, enveloped in colors inspired by the subtle washed watercolors of Southern France. It features brightly colored vines, flowers and vegetables influenced by Jana Kolpen’s book, “The Secrets of Pistoulet”. I love the way that the light lines, almost seem effortlessly, laced around the Salad Plates. The subtle colors are very complimentary to the theme. The entire set really does give you an overall sense of what it must be like to experience the fields of Southern France. It creates an atmosphere of almost being there, sharing a great meal with family and friends and taking in the beauty of the French countryside.

I really love the overall “feel” of this dinnerware. It has an elegant appearance about it. You can sense the thought that went into the design of each and every piece. It is functional and beautiful, all at the same time. The pattern of these pieces invokes a feeling of family and good times, spent around the dinner table, as a child. Much like its inspiration “The Secrets of Pistoulet” it’s almost a comforting state of being. The best way to describe it is; it’s like a, really good book. Now that I know the story behind it; I have an even greater appreciation for it.

Note: Stylized illustrations provided for review purposes. Wine/Glasses not included.

One Momma Told Me follower will win the same 40 Piece Pistoulet Dinnerware Set, as reviewed above, a $568 value.