Made in America: L.J. Gascho

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President’s Day is the time to honor all U.S. presidents, past and present. It’s also a three-day weekend for many of the nation’s workers, and that has us celebrating the companies that make their products in America.

One of our favorite examples is L.J. Gascho. Renowned for its craftsmanship and quality, the Michigan-based furniture company makes some of the finest solid wood furniture in the world. Founder Lyle J. Gascho is a woodworker and fourth-generation chicken farmer who learned woodworking techniques from Amish and Mennonite craftsmen. With a passion for quality and detail, he started making furniture as a hobby.

Gascho Bedroom 1

Art Van Furniture’s relationship with L.J. Gascho happened by chance in 1989. An executive and buyer were dining at a Mid-Michigan restaurant when they noticed the beauty of table. After getting the craftsman’s name from the restaurant owner, the buyer contacted him and asked if he’d sell his pieces at our stores. That encounter helped turn Lyle’s hobby into a thriving business, and 25 years later 115 employees carry on his vision and mission: “produce high quality furniture that will become heirlooms to be passed on from generation to generation.”

A customer favorite, L.J. Gascho products are individually handcrafted. An assortment of in-stock pieces are available for immediate delivery, or you can place a custom order. Simply come into one of our showrooms, find your favorite piece, and select your wood, color and hardware. Your custom-made furnishing will be delivered in just weeks.

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“We take pride in our work, and operate with honesty and integrity,” says Brandon Yowler, director of marketing for L.J. Gascho. “We’re not just making pieces of furniture, we’re making products that are part of people’s lives.”

Everything is hand-made using solid red oak and maple woods.  Table slides are made with solid maple to add durability, and some are gear driven to make it easy for one person to operate. Pedestal feet include self-adjustable levelers. Round table rims and chair backs are made from solid woods and are steam bent.

The finishing process is also unique. Stains are hand rubbed to bring out the natural characteristics of the wood. The finish is done with Beshta-var, a catalyzed varnish that is resistant to substances including water, alcohol, warm dishes, and even nail polish remover. It is also resistant to marring and scratching.

Gascho Bedroom 2

The company is so remarkable that ABC World News featured Gascho’s Anniversary dining room table in its first-ever ‘Made in America’ special. The piece had been designed for Art Van Furniture stores to celebrate 25 years of working together.

With L.J. Gascho, you not only get a beautiful piece of furniture, you get a chance to make a family memory that can last forever.

“One of our customers had been diagnosed with cancer,” says Brandon. “He realized that life was short so he took his Gascho table, flipped it over and wrote a letter to his family. He shared seven things he had found to be true in life, and then he invited them to add their own wisdom and keep passing it on. Stories like that keep us going, and we’re proud to offer heirloom-quality furniture.”

Brandon says L.J. Gascho is committed to making products that are relevant for today’s consumers. The company continues to launch new collections with pieces that include dining sets, entertainment centers, beds, dressers, chests, nightstands, end tables, cocktail tables, china cabinets, sofa tables and vanities. The new collections feature the company’s solid-wood heirloom quality with looks that bridge traditional with more modern styling.

L.J. Gascho is a Made in America success story. Congratulations on a job well done!

Two Amazingly Easy Valentines Day Desserts

Valentine’s Day and sweets go hand in hand. You could enjoy that heart-shaped box filled with truffles or you can score extra points by making a tasty dessert for your sweetheart. Here are two super easy ideas that are sure to impress:

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Marshmallow Treats

Use a heart shaped cookie cutter to turn marshmallow treats into hearts, then embellish them with frosting, chocolate, peanut butter or candy.

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Chocolate Dipped Strawberries

These are super easy to make, but they look and taste so good. If you’ve never dipped strawberries before, here’s an easy recipe.

How To Write a Love Letter

Valentine’s Day is around the corner. Instead of letting a greeting card company craft your sentiment, why not write a letter from the heart? We promise it will be cherished forever.

If you’re not sure where to begin, here are five tips from the folks at Hallmark:

1. Start off on the right note: Instead of “Dear,” why not try “My Darling…”

2. Offer affirmations. What are your beloved’s best qualities? Has he or she done something lately that you’re grateful for? Mention this!

3. Look into the future. Are you looking forward to something? Seeing him tonight? Going on that romantic vacation? Growing old together? Yep, mention that, too.

4. Finish strong. Scrap “Sincerely,” and go all in with something like “All my love,” or “Forever yours.” XOXOXO is good, too.

5. Finally, make it special delivery. Leave the letter somewhere you know he or she will find it – like on a pillow or car seat. The element of surprise will make it more special.

Post-Holiday Cleaning Tips

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The tree is down and the decorations are put away. Suddenly your home looks a little stark. That means there’s no better time to do some post-holiday cleaning. Here are two quick projects:

Wipe down your baseboards. Whether they’re real or artificial, Christmas trees have a tendency to drop needles that can get lodged around the baseboards of your room. Take this time to vacuum and wipe down baseboards. This little step can make a big difference in making a room feel clean and fresh.

Recycle. Any corrugated cardboard, gift boxes and paper that you can’t use can and should be recycled. Make sure you maximize your green bin at this time of year. If you don’t have curbside recycling, offer reusable materials to friends or family members who might need it for gift or shipping purposes. You can also post materials like Styrofoam peanuts on a site such as Craigslist or Freecycle.

Three Post-Holiday Organizing Tasks That Set You Up for Success Next Year

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Photo credit: HGTV/Pinterest

One of the top three resolutions every year is getting organized. You’ll make the chore easier by decluttering and streamlining what you have. As you take down your holiday décor, here are three things you can do be organized next holiday season:

Reevaluate your decorations. As you take down your holiday trimmings, don’t just store them all away for next year. Get rid of anything that is broken or no longer fits your design scheme. If you have ornaments that have been in your family for a long time but no longer spark holiday joy, for example, ask a sibling or cousin if they might appreciate them. Offer to share what you have or donate to a charity.

Properly store your lights. No matter how gently you store your Christmas lights, they always seem to be tangled up when you pull them out next season. This year, wind your lights around a cord reel, coffee can or oatmeal container, which will make hanging lights next year easy because you’ll just need to unwind. Also, label each strand with a small piece of masking tape, noting the date you started using it. You’ll know how old lights are and when they’re due to be replaced.

Update your address book. Before you put away holiday cards, make sure you have friends and family in your address book. If it’s been a while since you updated your addresses or you find yourself having to call, email or message a friend to get their address, it’s time to put your contacts in one place. Whether that’s a nice address book or an electronic version or spreadsheet, sit down and add anyone whose holiday card you received this year. Move to family, friends, professional contacts, as well as people whose services you use. You can arrange in alphabetical order, or separate by category.